Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is it ok to fire a client?

As small business owners, it can be hard to know when to walk away from a client.  But, it can also take a huge weight off your shoulders and open another door.  If you’re struggling with a decision about when to fire a client, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1.       Does the client pay on time? Most of us have had a client who constantly pays late or uses the standard, “Oh, I thought I put that in the mail” line.  As a small business owner this can be very frustrating and at some point it’s just not worth the headaches anymore.  If they have been late more than twice, this is usually a good indication that they will continue to behind. 

2.       Do you have regular meetings or phone calls? Communication is key and if your client is too busy to meet or strategize with you, that’s usually a sign that they aren’t committed to the business either.  Without forward thinking and strategic planning, no one is going to be successful. 

3.       Do they want to utilize interns or friends for work? Interns and friends can definitely play an important role in building your business and may provide valuable input.  But, if you see clients opts to get things done for “free” instead of utilizing your expertise, it may signal they don’t value your professional input. 

4.       Is it their way or the highway? Have you ever worked with a client who thinks they are an expert in every aspect of the business. It can leave you scratching your head, wondering why they hired a marketing or PR professional?  If you are just there to be an order taker, you may want to reevaluate if this is an ideal client for you or not.  We’d prefer to be in a role where we can make suggestions that will help improve the bottom line, generate awareness and attract new customers. 

5.       Flaking.  We once set up an interview for a client and they cancelled within hours of it, leaving us to scramble.  This reflects poorly on them and you as a PR professional.  Clients who don’t value your time or relationships are going to end up hurting your contacts with the media. 

More times than not, you need to trust your instincts.  Keeping a client on and putting up with bad behavior can result in cash flow problems, lower employee morale and a more stress.  Once you make the decision and let them go, you’ll be amazed as to what doors open and lead you to more fulfilling work.