Sometimes, you end up working with a bad client. That’s the way it is even if you did your research. Maybe you needed the money or you wanted the recognition of working with this person. Whatever your reasons, you know things have soured and you want out. Here’s how to do it while still sounding like a professional and taking the high road:
1. Do it face to face.
You wouldn’t break up with a significant other over email or social media, so don’t break up with a client this way. If possible, break up face to face, through an app like Skype or by a telephone call. This shows your client that you respect them and that you’re serious about this decision.
However, if you never typically speak to your client on the phone or via Skype then use the mode of communication you are both used to. Even if that’s email. It sounds bad, but it would be even more strange to schedule a Skype session with a client that you’ve never Skyped with before. In that case, an email will work.
2. Have a script prepared ahead of time.
Having a script of what you want to say ahead of time can be helpful, that way you don’t end up speaking from emotion and saying something you might regret. Once you’ve finished your script, ask someone else to take a look at it. Getting the advice of a neutral party can help you make sure you’ve covered all of your bases.
3. Give a clear end date.
Don’t let your projects drag on and on after this meeting. Come prepared with a clear end date and communicate this to your client. When choosing the date, ask yourself if your client will need time to find and train someone else. If so, you may want to offer a transition period of two to three months so your client isn’t left in the lurch.
4. Anticipate questions.
In most cases, your client will have a few questions. They make ask if more money would help, who you would recommend for future work, or if there’s anything they can do to make you stay. Be prepared for these questions and have an answer ready in advance.
6. Stand firm.
Sometimes, a bad client may try to bully you into staying. Still others may opt for passive aggression or threats of “ruining” you on social media. If this happens, politely let your client know that your decision is final.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to justify your reason for ending your working relationship. Otherwise, your client will try to counter your reasons in the hope that you’ll stay.
Make a recommendation.
A ‘bad’ client might simply be a client that you had a personality conflict with or that needed a different service than you offer. Don’t be afraid to recommend another virtual assistant to your client. This makes you look like a professional in your client’s eyes and it earns you some good karma from the virtual assistant that you recommended.
Breaking up with a bad client doesn’t have to be dramatic or messy. It can be as simple as creating a script and scheduling the meeting. If you’re having trouble taking the first step, think of how relieved you’ll feel when you no longer have to work with this client. Remember this is your business, you are allowed to decide who you want to work with. 🙂
Do you have a good breakup story? I’d love for you to share in the comments.