Reasons to Fire a Client

Business Coach Consultant | Business Consulting, Healthcare Consulting, Alternative Medicine Consulting, Salsbury & Co.

According to Forbes there are six reasons to fire a client:

  1. They Make Unreasonable Demands

  2. They Want Everything for Nothing

  3. They’re Always Slow to Pay

  4. They Don’t Listen to You

  5. They Don’t Respond to You

  6. They Show a Basic Lack of Respect

Most of us can agree that all six of these reasons should be on this list, and we’ve all heard horror stories about the “client from hell”, but does Forbes have all of the facts?

We recently hit the streets and spoke to fifteen local women who work directly with clients. These women have varying professional backgrounds and positions. We asked them all the same question, and the question was simple; “What is the biggest reason for firing a client?”

These fifteen businesswomen had two main reasons to fire a client:

  1. Not the right fit

  2. Safety

Even those two reasons came back to a common theme, and that was their initial gut feeling; their intuition. For whatever reason, most of these business professionals went against their intuition and took on the client.

Why? The answer is not always that easy. For two of the women, the clients were assigned to them. Another woman was building her client list, and was taking any job that came her way to create income. One businesswoman’s story ended with her client in jail after he showed up at her house.

So, how do you fire a client? That’s tricky because there isn’t one good way that works in every situation. There are no cookie-cutter techniques when letting a client go; however, if you do a web search for “how to fire a client” you will get pages of results on tips, tricks, and even word-for-word scripts.

According to entrepreneurial writer Nick Reese, you want to remember four things when ending the relationship:

  1. Politely explain the situation

  2. Focus on their interests

  3. Be professional, you never know where people will be 5, 10, or 15 years in the future.

  4. Set expectations of what to expect next

I believe that your first goal, and continued expectation through the relationship with your client, is to always trust your intuition. That’s a big one to help eliminate future problematic clients.

Your “homework” this week is to evaluate your client list. I would like you to use “Pareto’s Principle” (also known as “Pareto’s Law”). This is the 80/20 rule (some business structures use the 90/10 rule). This rule can be applied to almost anything.

For example:

  1. Teachers spend 90% of their energy on the bottom 10% of their students.

  2. Managers will spend 80% of their time and energy on the bottom 20% of their employees.

  3. 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients.

  4. 10% of your clients create 90% of your problems.

However you decide to split the rule (90/10 or 80/20), apply it to the six reasons that Forbes listed and the two reasons that we found on why you should fire a client, and then apply it to the evaluation of your client list.

In all honesty, you already know who your problem clients are. They’re the ones that are causing you stress and sleepless nights. Firing a client is never easy, but the mental, physical, and financial rewards can be beneficial.


April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.

Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.

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