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How to Walk Away from a Client: A Short Guide

man in cape walking towards door

So you’ve decided to walk away from your client.

Perhaps it was for one of the 15 reasons listed in this blog post or for another reason.

But whatever the reason: These are the 8 ultimate steps to walk away from your client the right way!

word-on-new-clients

A Word on New Clients

This blog post focuses on the 8 ultimate steps to walk away from ‘existing’ clients.

With ‘new’ clients, there is obviously more latitude, and this makes it easier to walk away with:

  • Professionally delivered messages (that soften the blow of rejection), and
  • Still leave the door ajar for future work (if you want it).

And you cannot go past the tried and tested: “I/We are not the best fit for this project” – for walking away from a new client professionally.

Read on or use the the table of contents to ‘jump’ to a specific section in the post.

Table of Contents

stick-tried-tested-reasons

1. Stick to Tried and Tested Reasons

Never burn a bridge with a client and tell them the exact truth. And this is even if you dislike the client.

You must always keep your language polite and professional. Stick to ‘tried’ and ‘tested’ reasons for ending your business relationship with them.

Like:

  • Substantial increase in workload
  • Mismatch in working styles
  • That you are not the best fit for this project (as mentioned earlier).

Takeaway: Get your ‘tried’ and ‘tested’ reason engrained in your brain, and stick to it, no matter what your client says to you on the phone! (step 4).

give-plenty-of-notice

2. Give Plenty of Notice

No matter how much you dislike your client always give them plenty of notice.

Because remember this is a ‘inconvenience’, and they need time to make other arrangements.

Giving your client ‘zero notice’ is unprofessional and likely to get you a negative reaction that will reflect poorly on your business and you.

Note: The only exception to giving advance notice is if someone has been abusive (in any form) – because if there is any form of ‘abuse’, you need to end the relationship immediately.

suggest-another-vendor

3. Suggest Another Vendor

You can soften the blow of rejection by referring your client to another vendor.

But just ensure that vendor can deliver what your client is looking for.

And out of courtesy ensure you give the vendor a quick call to explain your situation ‘professionally.’

You should really have a list of vendors, no matter how long you’ve been in business, for this exact scenario.

But if you don’t: At least do some ‘groundwork’ and come up with a ‘list’ of vendors that may be suitable for your client.

That way you are still showing ‘professionalism’ by giving them another option.

Note: If someone has been abusive (in any form) – don’t bother with this step!

ringing phone

4. Call Client on Phone

So you’ve got:

  • Your ‘tried’ and ‘tested’ reason (for walking away)
  • Your notice period (for walking away)
  • Your new vendor suggestion (for walking away).

And now it’s time to take a:

  • Deep breath
  • Pick up the phone
  • Discuss this with the client.

No email. No voicemail. No text. A phone call only.

Communication is critical (as discussed here) and everything else can easily be ‘misinterpreted.’

Be brave and make the call.

Each client will react differently, but if you are always ‘polite’ and ‘professional’: You will be rewarded with the outcome you want! 

bag of money with notes of cash surrounding

5. Return Money & Project Materials

This step is simple.

You return any:

  • Money owed
  • Material
  • Intellectual property to the client.

And remember: Money lost now will be recovered in the future with better clients!

save-all-communications

6. Save All Communications

Never delete all communications just because you’ve dumped a client!

  • Things happen (on a business level)
  • Things can happen (legally).

Cover yourself.

And remember it’s your obligation as a business owner to keep accurate records for all:

  • Current
  • Past clients.
don't-do-this-all-time

7. Don’t Do This All the Time

Never make a habit of walking away from clients.

And only do it if it’s necessary (like one of the 15 reasons discussed here).

Takeaway: Your business is built on ‘trust’ and your reputation depends on it. And if you get a reputation for ‘letting clients go’ then that may prevent your business from getting new clients.

The Summary:

reward-yourself

8. Reward Yourself

Letting a client go can be hard on you ‘mentally.’

Even causing you:

  • Stress
  • Headaches
  • Sleepless nights.

So go on (if you have let go a client) reward yourself with:

  • A nice drink
  • A nice dinner
  • Whatever!

Because as Tony Robbins states hereEffort should result in a positive reward to constantly move towards that state in the future.

Thrive text on grey background

Conclusion

Be selective when walking away from a client, limiting it to one of these 15 reasonsAnd always do it ‘professionally’, keeping your valuable ‘business reputation’ in-tact.

Because as British-born American Journalist / Broadcaster Alistair Cooke once said: “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”

And if you follow that motto, you will have a thriving business, with clients you love and love you back in return!

Over to You…

Do you agree with How to Walk Away from a Client: A Short Guide? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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