Not long ago I gave you nine reasons you might want to fire a client. In this post, we'll explore how to do that - how to pink-slip a bad client.
Choose your channel carefully. The best method is via the mail - real mail, snail mail, the kind that takes a stamp. We tend to take more care with snail mail than with almost any form of communication. The act of putting our thoughts on real paper slows us down and helps us create a clear, non-inflammatory message.
Avoid email. The potential for creating flame wars is too great. And avoid the phone. You won't be able to craft your thoughts as well on the phone, and may feel forced to respond more quickly than would be prudent.Start your letter cordially (Dear Mr. Blumberg), and avoid emotion throughout.
In your message, spell out your reasons for the decision. Try to put the reasons in terms of your capabilities (we are not equipped to meet your needs), rather than blaming the client for the decision. You might say, "This is not working as well for me as I had hoped," and then explain briefly why that is so. Don't give more than three reasons for your decision.
If you are under contract with the client, be sure to have a lawyer review your options, your decision, and your letter, in order to keep you out of trouble. On the other hand, if you believe the client has breached your contract, be sure that is clearly spelled out in your letter.
An alternative to a direct approach is to raise your fees much higher than you expect the client to accept. Be sure you raise your fees high enough so that, if the client still wants to work with you, you will be okay continuing the relationship. In this case, still inform the customer of your decision in writing.
Run through this checklist to be sure you've covered all your bases:
- Check your contract to be sure you follow its requirements.
- Keep all documents relating to the termination, including emails and other notes.
- Write a cordial but firm letter.
- Mail the final invoice.
- Don't tell others about your decision. Just leave it between you and your former client.