9 Signs it’s Time to Let a Client Go
I recently let go of a long-term client I had worked with for years. This former client is an absolutely lovely person. I resonate with her mission and I love what she’s trying to do. Add the fact that I know her business inside and out and not once have I had difficulty with her payments, on the outside looking in, she looks absolutely perfect. So why in the world would I ever want to let her go? One reason: growth.
Sometimes things shift, in our business or our clients’ business, and it’s no longer in one or both party’s best interest to continue working together. Sometimes the dynamics change, the client has learned all they can from you, or you just don’t enjoy working with them anymore. A number of things can happen, and that’s okay. It’s a part of doing business. The key is to always maintain integrity and always have respect, but sometimes it’s time to realize the relationship has run its course and it’s time to move on.
Here are 9 signs it’s time to let a client go.
Your rates are going up significantly and your client can’t afford them.
This is a great problem to have, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to tell your client that your rates are doubling, tripling or more. In this situation, I’ve found that it’s best to get clear on the relationship with your client. What I mean by this is evaluate if your client legitimately cannot afford working with you at your higher rate or they simply do not value you enough to pay you an increased rate.
If you love working with your client and don’t want to let them go just yet, but they legitimately cannot afford working with you at your higher rates, you can increase your prices in steps. For example, any new client you sign will be charged at your new rate. However, your current client (or clients) will pay an increased rate, but not as much as what new clients will pay.
If, however, your client does not value you enough to pay your increased rate, let them go. Here’s the thing: if you don’t own your worth and ask to be paid accordingly for it, others won’t either. If your client does not value your time, knowledge and expertise enough to pay you your increased price, honor your worth and let them go.
They are not your ideal client and your values don’t align.
Perhaps you started working with this particular client when you first started your business journey. Maybe back then, you were scrambling for clients and didn’t know who your ideal client was. Or maybe you would work with anyone and everyone who came your way.
Perhaps your values (or your clients values) have changed over time and they no longer resonate with your brand. Whatever the reason, this particular client no longer fits your ideal client profile.
If this is the case, it may be time to rethink your relationship. Remember when you work only with your ideal clients, the likelihood of working with problem clients or clients who don’t share your same values is drastically reduced.
You no longer enjoy working with the client.
This seems to be the most commonly overlooked reason to discontinue a relationship with a client. Perhaps this is because if everything else lines up, it seems crazy to let a good client go for the simple fact that you don’t like working with them. But you probably didn’t start your own business just to be unhappy or doing something you don’t enjoy, so I cannot stress the importance of this point.
Don’t continue working with a client for the sole reason of a steady paycheck. It doesn’t matter how much money you make if you’re miserable. Furthermore, if you are that unhappy, it can lead to lower work quality, higher levels of stress and even resentment of your client and their company. If you no longer enjoy working with the client, for whatever reason, let them go.
Your client does not respect you.
Respect, or lack thereof, can come in many different forms. Perhaps your client does not respect your time, constantly pushes against your boundaries or always questions your work. Perhaps they don’t respect your team or their input or they treat them as subordinates. Or perhaps they don’t respect you as a business or a person.
If your client does not show respect, walk away. It’s important to have a mutually respectful relationship and no amount of money is worth a toxic one. A client is not worth loss of morale, confidence or self-respect. If a client is abusive, undermining or passive-aggressive, let them go.
The client won’t listen to your professional advice.
Your clients know their business inside out. However, there is nothing more frustrating than working with a client who won’t listen to you, especially when it’s for something they hired you to do. You’re the expert. You were likely hired because you know the strategies and the most effective way to accomplish their goals; it is your area of expertise, after all. If your client keeps asking for your advice only to ignore it, it can be exhausting and can show a lack of trust.
Clients won’t always take every piece of advice that you offer. Sometimes they have others influencing them or are attached to their own ideas, which is okay. However, when your client micromanages your work or constantly ignores your recommendations, it may be time to rethink the relationship. Additionally, if your client blames you for their poor results (especially after not listening to you), it may be time to let them go.
They don’t pay on time.
Glitches and issues sometimes pop up for us and can also happen for our clients. Payment gateways randomly present problems, banks occasionally block transactions for no apparent reason, and sometimes things just happen. If something pops up once in a while and your client lets you know, even though it’s frustrating, you can account for that and make plans accordingly. But if problems with payment happen often, it may be time to have a serious chat with your client.
When you deliver work, you deserve timely compensation. Trust me from experience, it’s not worth it to work with a client who is constantly delaying sending your payment through or questioning every invoice you send.
At the end of the day, you’re running a business. Clients who don’t pay on time or who constantly make excuses for payment affect not only your nerves but also your livelihood. If your client is consistently late or you always have to chase them for payment, it may be time to let them go.
They are highly demanding.
When a client has unreasonable demands, it may be time to evaluate continuing to work with them. A highly demanding client may expect an immediate response, no matter the time, or wants changes done after you’ve met every specification. They may also constantly push for things outside the scope.
Keep in mind that a demanding client is not necessarily a bad thing. They may push you to do your best work. However, when you’re constantly accommodating unreasonable demands, you set the precedent for the client to continue with their bad habits. When they are demanding things because they planned poorly or weren’t clear on what they wanted, that could negatively affect your team and your business.
They are high maintenance.
You may have started your business because you love to help people and you offer a unique skillset. However, as mentioned above, at the end of the day, you’re running a business. If you have a high maintenance client who constantly needs hand-holding or guidance, it gets overwhelming and time-consuming.
It is completely fair for a client to expect updates on how things are going or the progress of a project. But when a client demands more time or energy than they are compensating you for, they are literally costing you money. High maintenance clients are typically more of a hassle than they are worth, and you’re usually better off letting them go than continuing the relationship.
Your client is affecting your mindset.
This one can be so difficult, but it is equally as important as the other points, if not even more so. It doesn’t matter if your client is the nicest person on the planet, pays you on time and loves the work that you do. If your client is negative, small-minded or has a scarcity mindset, it can rub off on you and ultimately affect your mindset, too.
Additionally, this could be a combination of any of the other points mentioned here. If your client is not listening to you, is constantly trying to haggle, or is frustrated that your business is growing while theirs remains stagnant, it can impact you and your business. No matter what the reason, if your client or their actions are negatively affecting your mindset, let them go.
Letting go of a client can be tough. No matter the reason they’re no longer a good fit (or never were a good fit to start with), it’s still sometimes be challenging to walk away. But when you’re parting ways, embrace it. When you let go of a client who is no longer a fit, you give yourself space to work with someone who is. That means you give yourself the opportunity to level up your business and to continue to grow, which is so worth it.