You have screened your client, agreed to create a relationship and have created value for your client. Recently, you notice that the energy of the relationship has changed. Any of the following could be occurring:
- General disrespect from either party
- Client does not honor ground rules originally set at the beginning of the business relationship
- You no longer enjoy servicing this customer
- Your clients needs have outgrown your capabilities
- It is getting harder and harder to please them
- They are no longer honoring your original agreements
- The amount of time spent to fulfill the agreement is more than the value of the agreement
- Verbal abuse – It happens!
- Client has stated that they (or someone they know) can perform the job better than you can
- Constant drama
- Insufficient lead time given to accomplish agreed upon work
- Client is not clear on the intended goals
- Client is not completing their required tasks and blames you
- Client is not giving clear direction even when coached
- Client is not devoting time needed to the project
- Client wants you to be their personal psychologist
- Client is expecting free services because you have become “friends”
- Something has changed for you which does not allow you to honor the original agreement
Obviously, this is just a sampling of reasons to part ways with a client. You may have found one of the reasons above applies to one of your clients or you may have a completely different situation with which you are dealing. One thing is clear though, you are at a crossroads with your business relationship!
You will want to attempt to resolve the situation; however, if you still cannot resolve the situation it is time to work out how to amicably part ways.
Some of the things to consider are:
- Settling the financial end of the agreement – my take on this is if it costs more to collect the monies owed than the actual amount owed, just let the client know that they will have 10 days to settle the account or you’ll be sending them a 1099 at the end of the year for the remainder outstanding. If the amount is more, you’ll need to look at how you allowed that to happen and adjust your processes to not allow that in the future along with contracting a lawyer to handle the settlement of the account.
- Turning over control of the digital assets – give the client the information they need to gain control of the account once all monies are paid in full.
- Meeting with your replacement – meet with them to turn over control and be courteous. You never know if they might be your next joint venture partner! If you find that they do not have the skills to replace you, advice your client of your concerns and give them 1 or 2 references of more qualified replacements.
Occasionally, there are times when emotions run high. Do everything you can to take the high road and not get baited into an emotionally heated argument. This is a transaction, nothing more, nothing less. If they wish to raise emotions, simply suggest that the meeting be postponed until they can gather their composure. Here’s a trick that I learned from my son this past weekend: He said that if he’s talking on the phone, he always listens with his left ear because the left or logical side of his brain hears the conversation first and he’s less likely to get into an emotional discussion that way. When emotions are raised, intelligence is lowered – remain intelligent!
The way you end a business relationship is just as important as how you begin the relationship. You want to part ways as quickly as possible with the least amount of hassle on both sides and allow yourself the bandwidth to move on to your next ideal client. It is possible that after a period of time, this client may realize how good they had it with you and may decide to employ your services again or they may refer someone to you based on how well this transaction is completed.