Do you need to say goodbye to a client but don’t know how to begin? There are ways to end a business relationship with a client nicely without burning the bridges.
Ending a business relationship, especially with a long-term client, may not be as easy as it sounds.
It’s also not as simple as ending other forms of relationships.
This is because things could get complicated if you fail to handle this process the right way.
Fortunately, there are sure-fire ways to gracefully end business relationships without ;
- leaving you feeling guilty/petty
- hurting your future earning/income opportunities
- attracting litigations/legal penalties.
Stay with us to find out how.
But, first, let’s examine some of the causes of terminating a business relationship with a client.
11 Deal-Breakers In Business Relationships; When To Fire A Client
Breaking up with a client isn’t something you would want to do under normal circumstances.
This is because clients are the live wire of any business.
Technically, the more clients you have, the more money you make.
Hence letting go of clients may not sound like the most logical thing to do as a business owner/service provider looking to make more money.
However, in business, it is expected that you’ll face certain unforeseen circumstances or challenges.
One of these is making a difficult decision to let go of a client.
Before you go through with this decision, you need to be sure you’re taking the right step.
Several red flags can help you know it’s time to end a business relationship with a client, even if you’ve been working with them for a long time.
When The Client Is Being Constantly Disrespectful
For several years the slogan “Customer is always right” has ruled many businesses.
It has helped them create customer-centric businesses that value and treat customers specially.
Lately, businesses are beginning to realize the tendencies of customers to abuse this privilege.
As such, they’ve progressed towards creating a much more mutually beneficial work culture that ensures respect between customers and employees.
Nonetheless, some customers still find ways to disregard these rules and act disrespectful to employees.
Often, we see customers being abusive and arrogant to employees.
In worst-case scenarios, some employees suffer racial discrimination and bullying from customers.
So, whether you’re a business owner with employees or a one-person business(a service provider) dealing with this kind of client, you need to let them go.
When The Client Undervalues You (Doesn’t Pay You Your Worth)
This is another tangible reason to end a business relationship with a client.
If you constantly put in your best to deliver excellent work, but your clients fail to recognize your efforts and pay you your worth, then you’re better off without them.
This is true, especially if the client can conveniently afford your fees.
This is a clear sign that the client doesn’t feel you deserve better for your hard work; as such, you need to let them go.
When The Client Can No Longer Afford Your Fees
Sometimes businesses face financial difficulties.
When this happens, they struggle to keep up with business operations.
If this is the situation with your client, you may need to let them go.
You may feel petty for taking this decision.
However, this is the best decision for both of you for the following reasons;
Firstly, you won’t have to keep working and accepting late payments for completed projects.
Also, the client won’t accumulate debts for late payments.
When The Client Behaves Unethically/Engages In Illegal Activities
There are certain ethical lines that one must not cross in business and life generally.
So, if you find that you’re dealing with clients whose business processes negate all or some ethical business standards, you need to terminate such a relationship.
Otherwise, it could negatively affect you in so many ways.
- First, it could attract legal issues for your business.
- It could tarnish your business reputation and credibility.
- Also, it could lead to the loss of existing and potential customers.
- Worse of all, it could lead to the foreclosure of your business.
Overall, it’s better to deal with the pain of losing a client than losing your business because you were afraid to terminate a wrong business relationship.
Also, seek legal advice to end a relationship based on these grounds to protect yourself from unnecessary lawsuits.
When The Client Is Constantly Unsatisfied With Your Work
You can also tell a client isn’t right for you when nothing you do seems to be satisfactory to the client.
These types of clients are perfectionists and very hard to please.
So, you’ll need to let them go to save your or your team’s morale.
When The Client Keeps Making Unrealistic Demands/Giving Unrealistic Deadlines For Projects
Sometimes, you’ll have certain clients who expect you to work some magic with their projects.
Specifically, they have certain unrealistic projections of the results they expect from you.
Likewise, they expect you to complete projects within unrealistic time frames.
Worse still, they demand you go the extra mile to handle their project without compensating for your extra efforts.
All of these can make working for them feel uncomfortable and exhausting.
It’s okay to make a few sacrifices to deliver excellent work and satisfy your client.
However, the pressure to do so shouldn’t come from the client.
So, end relationships with clients who put you under pressure to fulfill their unrealistic demands/deadlines.
When The Client Breaches The Work Contract
You’re also right to end a business relationship with a client if they fail to honor the terms of the contract.
In most cases, when one party breaches the contract terms, the other party is under no obligation to fulfill their end of the contract.
In this case, the client has already terminated the work contract.
So, all that’s left for you is to make it official by telling the client you no longer wish to work with him/her.
When The Cost Of Executing The Client’s Project Becomes More Than You Earn For The Project
Sometimes, you may spend more money working for a client than you earn from the project.
This means that you’re doing business at a loss.
If you continue doing business this way, you’ll ruin your business.
So, you’ll be right to end such a business relationship, especially if the client is not ready to increase your fees to match the financial demands of their project.
When The Client Isn’t Co-operative (Lack of Effective communication)
Granted, your client depends on you to solve their problems.
However, you can only do an excellent job if you have all the relevant information and resources to work with.
So, if your client isn’t cooperating with you as much as they should, that will be impossible.
For instance, if;
- They fail to communicate their goals or expectations clearly.
- Also, they’re inaccessible when you need to confirm some instructions.
- They fail to give clear instructions you can work with.
These can hinder your workflow and make it impossible to deliver excellent results as expected.
More so, it will result in wasted efforts and may also tarnish your business reputation.
So, it’ll be best to end the business relationship rather than let this happen.
When The Clients’ Business Doesn’t Align With Your Current Business/Personal Goals
It’s possible the client has decided to pursue other business interests.
These interests may not necessarily align with your business goals.
You may not have any personal interest in handling such projects.
When this is the case, you may need to let go of the client.
This is so you can go after clients who need your services and whose interests align with your business goals.
You’re Taking A Step Back From The Business To Pursue Other Interests
Sometimes, the problem may not be from your client but you.
For a relationship to work, both parties’ interests need to be aligned.
It could be that you need to take some time off to pursue other interests that’ll be beneficial to your future.
It could also be that you need some time off to concentrate and focus on other goals; as such, you may not have the time to fully commit to clients’ projects.
For this, you may need to end a business relationship with your clients so you can focus on other pressing business or personal needs.
Now, you have a guide to help you know when to let go of a client.
However, how do you handle the whole process without necessarily complicating things in your business?
Find out below.
10 Recommended Ways To End A Business Relationship With A Client
Here are the best ways to end a client-business owner relationship without attracting negative consequences that may tarnish your business reputation or ruin your future income potential.
1. Figure Out What The Problem Is
Many business owners struggle with finding clients.
Likewise, letting go of clients isn’t something every business wishes to do.
However, when you discover you have to let go of a client, you should at least be sure where the problem is coming from.
So, analyze your relationship with the client so far to figure out the potential causes of the problem.
For instance, you need to ask yourself what actions may have instigated your client’s negative behavior.
Also, you may need to be honest to ask if you’re delivering as much value as you promised your client.
Overall, asking leading questions and honestly answering them can help you fish out the issues straining your business relationship with your client.
2. Relate Your Concerns To The Client
So, you’ve identified that the issues are coming from your client.
You need to communicate this clearly and respectfully to the client.
It’s possible that the client isn’t aware of his/her shortcomings.
So, make your specific concerns known to the client so they can know where to make amends/adjustments.
3. Give The Client A Chance To Ammend Mistakes
This will help you know if the client is willing to make the business relationship work.
Precisely, the clients will make amends based on your feedback if they value the business relationship.
However, if there are no positive changes and you still experience the same concerns, you’ll be sure that you need to call it quits with this client.
These are the next steps to take if your attempt to rectify the business relationship fails.
4. Check The Terms Of The Contract
Before making any major move, you need to check the terms of the contract to avoid any breach on your part.
Depending on the nature of the contract, there should be stipulated days for notice of contract termination and other guidelines.
So, check the contract for termination guidelines and adhere to them.
5. Complete Pending/Current Projects- How To End A Business Relationship With A Client
This is a more courteous and respectful way to approach this situation.
So, while you plan to end a business relationship with a client, try to complete pending/current projects instead of abandoning them and ending things abruptly.
This will help you preserve your reputation and keep the doors open for future opportunities.
6. Inform Your Client About The Decision To End The Business Relationship
Now, it’s time to inform your client about your decision to end things.
This may be the hardest part of the entire process.
However, you need to get it done so you can move on from the situation.
So, you’ll need to think of the best ways to tell the client.
You could decide to do this virtually via any communication channels (emails, text, or phone calls) or a face-to-face talk.
The best way to go will be virtually to prevent physical confrontation after the conversation.
You could send an email to the client.
Ideally, it’s best to use the mode of communication you both have been communicating with from the onset of the business relationship.
Overall, be diplomatic when stating your reasons for ending the business relationship so that you don’t stir up any resentment or negative feelings.
7. Don’t Let Your Emotions Rule You (Be Professional)
Peradventure, the client has been rude and disrespectful, so you just don’t want anything to do with the client anymore.
You need to control your emotions, especially if you’re ending the business relationship via a physical meeting.
Handle the situation professionally and politely, regardless of how hostile the client may get.
Always remember you have your business reputation to protect.
8. Make The Client’s Transition To A New Business Much Easier
This is essential to allow you to end things on a positive note.
As you prepare to leave your client, you should also help make their lives after you go much easier.
There are several things you should do to ensure this.
- Don’t withhold completed projects.
- Return sensitive documents they may have shared with you while actively working with them.
- Recommend alternative services or resources that can be helpful to them in your absence
- You may not necessarily do this; help them find a replacement, especially if the client has been good to you.
- Likewise, you can keep the communication channels open to give them helpful tips and guidelines in the first few weeks of ending the contract.
Overall, these are necessary to help you end the business relationship without burning the bridges.
9. Be Respectful
Regardless of how hurt you are by the client’s actions, you need to be respectful while handling this situation.
Air your grievances politely.
Also, respectfully let the client know that you don’t wish to continue the business relationship.
10. End On A Positive Note
This cannot be overemphasized enough.
It will be more beneficial to end positively for both parties.
This is because future opportunities may come up where you may need to work together again.
For instance, you may need your client to give some reviews to help you promote your business.
Likewise, your client may need recommendations to solve some problems you helped them with while working for them.
All of these may not be possible if the business relationship ends badly.
So, focus on ending things positively where you and your client feel at peace with each other despite ending the business relationship.
Final Thoughts On How To End A Business Relationship With A Client
So, as a business owner, you’ve invested resources to ensure you provide excellent customer service and improve customer retention.
Sadly, as much as you’ll like to keep every customer, the bitter truth is that not all customers are meant for your business.
Hence, you’ll have to let go of the wrong customers.
This may not be an easy decision to make.
Fortunately, you have all the right tips to help you achieve this without jeopardizing your business’ reputation.
Implement these tips to end a business relationship gracefully.