How To Professionally Cut Ties With A Client

September 16, 2018

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I'm Court —online systems educator for coaches. I'm here to help you love your business again.

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Clients are wonderful. They allow us to expand our portfolio, work on interesting projects, and keep the lights on. Despite the overwhelming awesomeness of most clients, others are…lacking. It’s inevitable. At some point, you will have to part ways with a client. Here’s how to recognize it’s time and the conversation to have to let go of a client tactfully.


Challenging Project vs. Challenging Client

If you start to get the feeling that a particular client is eating up all your time, take a step back and evaluate the situation. As an Online Business Manager, you’ll be launched into a number of unique and challenge projects – controlling the chaos in a poorly managed environment, helping clients scale their business, and overseeing the marketing strategy. You must decipher if the time crunch and demand you feel is from the actual client, or simply the effort required to help them better their business. Use these questions to determine if you’re working with a challenging client or project:

  • Does the client explain why they’re unhappy with a project, giving examples for improvement or reiterating the desired end result?
  • Does the client expect you to drop everything and work on their command?
  • Does the client constantly have a “special” request?
  • Does the client speak respectfully, even when they disagree?


If the client is open to having conversations about the work, making recommendations and fully explains why they’re unhappy, you’re likely dealing with a tough project, not a nightmare client.


Should You Let Go of The Client?

If you’re reading this, we’ll assume you’re a responsible, hard-working adult who has been in the work force for more than 10 minutes. You’ve dealt with the picky, the particular, and the downright demanding, but you’re beginning to question your ability to deal with a particular client. Think it’s time to go your separate ways? Take these steps first:

  • Confirm you’re dealing with a challenging client, not a challenging project.
  • Explore all avenues of resolution. Not every challenge can be addressed via email or text message. If you need to have an in-person conversation with the client (and it’s geographically feasible), take the option.
  • Leave your ego at the door. A client doesn’t become a problem because they don’t love your first efforts on a project. Be sure you’re accepting of feedback and put it into action before walking away.
  • Check the budget. If you’re losing money (in the form of time, sleep, or teammates) over a client, have one direct conversation about time management and expectations. If nothing changes, move on.


The Conversation

Once you’ve evaluated that a client doesn’t fit into your approach and the decision to cut ties is made, here are tips to guide you through the conversation:

  • Don’t lie (while avoiding an unnecessary bashing of the client’s attitude)
  • Don’t be rude. How you terminate a partnership speaks to your professionalism and character. Be direct but don’t be a jerk.
  • Do more than email. It’s fine to (politely) put your separation in writing, but it should be supplemented by a phone call or in-person conversation.
  • Fulfill paid time. Deliver on the work you guaranteed. If the client has paid for a certain amount of time, work through the balance.
  • Don’t argue. You can be right or you can be happy. Do not get into a back and forth with the client. It’s a lose – lose situation.


Once you’ve parted ways with the client, be sure you don’t let that bad experience spill over into your other working relationships. The vast majority of clients are amazing to work with and offer experiences that expand your talent as well as your portfolio, so don’t let one unsettling partnership unhinge what you’ve worked so hard to create.

Have you ever had to part ways with a client? Comment below with the talking  tips you would add to our list.


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