Sometimes you just need to say “You’re fired!”

A service business is driven by clients. Losing a client is a blow to your ego and your pocket book. But sometimes, it is necessary to part ways with a client, especially if you are bending over backwards to satisfy them yet they still don’t seem to value you.

All clients – regardless of what they are paying you – are equally important in terms of the type of services you provide; you, of course, want to be the true-you and do your best for every client. But, like any situation – be it business or personal – there are going to be some people that are a better fit to work together than others.

While dollars don’t determine how well you service a client, in the end, your business depends on profitability. Sometimes you can have a client (or clients) who take an extraordinary amount of your time versus other clients, therefore they become unprofitable.

When you’re doing the best you can possibly do and the client still doesn’t seem satisfied, you can almost guarantee that they’re going to become unprofitable. Assess the situation: go back to the prices you gave and look at the time you devote to the client so you can figure out your level of profitability. If you’re in a service field I can almost guarantee that you’ll find you’re not even breaking even. That’s when you come to the decision to fire a client.

Firing a client isn’t easy. Once you’ve had a “come to Jesus” moment and realize the business relationship isn’t a fit, you owe it to yourself to fire them. We as women often have a hard time because we worry about how this will reflect on us negatively.

You can part ways with a client in a way that’s not harmful (i.e. “this is costing me too much to work with you”). You can explain that this is a business relationship that’s not working for your business. Then lay out what has happened. Here’s the other thing: a lot of time that if you own the part of it that you may have miscommunicated or misjudged – like if you didn’t charge them enough or didn’t tell them they couldn’t have 17 revisions – it can be a situation that’s not negative, but more understandable on the client’s part. Own up to your own mistakes – expectations, pricing, etc. – then it’s easier for them to understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes it can even turn around, but most of the time you can shake hands and part kindly.

I was talking to a fellow female entrepreneur yesterday who noted that it seems like the more sophisticated and higher-level the client is, the more profitable they are. This is almost definitely the case. The more appreciation a client has for what you do, the more they understand and value your services, the easier they are to work with and the more profitable they come to be. My wish for you is that you find these high-end, sophisticated clients who value you.

And if you have some that don’t value you, give me a call and I’ll help you move on from the relationship so your business can continue to move forward.

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