With the current business environment as competitive as it is, few people and fewer companies are willing to fire a troublesome client. When it comes down to revenue, it’s accepted far and wide that whatever kind of business you are involved in; whether it’s a full development shop or you’re a one-person web-developer company, your survival depends on your ability to nurture your client relationships. Even when the going gets tough maintaining those relationships are of utmost importance. All is not lost however and there are ways to salvage a working relationship before simply firing your client.
Is the Problem the Project or is it the Client?
Logically you cannot just go around willy-nilly firing clients. Just because a client is difficult that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be fired. There might be another way, so before you tell your client to hit the road, exhaust your other options and try a few of these tactics…
Get on the Same Page
ensure that any and all misunderstandings are cleared up. Preconceived ideas or expectations from either side are very dangerous and only lead to disappointment. Sometimes it’s a matter of really teasing out the finer details which despite being pretty dull, will save you a lot of trouble later.
Deal With Mistakes
We can’t all be right all the time, if you’ve made a mistake you have to look it in the eye and deal with it. Ignoring it will only lead to it festering and blowing up later. Your client may well be wrong but what’s to say you aren’t wrong too?
Be Fair But Stand Your Ground
If you take a more objective look at the situation, you admit to your mistakes and you do your best to make things right and the client is being unreasonable, be firm (don’t be a jerk though). This situation may not abate but at least you haven’t gone overboard and compromised your own integrity and set an unfair president for the relationship going forward.
Keep it Above Board at all Times
Remember that some clients are hard to please and other clients are impossible to please. If they begin to lower the conversation, become demeaning and get personal don’t give in and lower yourself too. Only one thing will come from this sort of conflict and it isn’t good for anyone. Take time to cool off and revisit the conversation when you are less angry or emotional.
The only way to move forward is if you find a way for both parties to win. By listening to their concerns carefully and vice versa it often becomes apparent where compromises can be made and where some reflection is required.
If you’ve tried all of these things but experienced no success, it’s definitely time to consider firing your client. If their approach is unreasonable and you’ve tried everything you can, the cons will always outweigh the pros. Those cons can also be more detrimental to your business than losing a client.