I’ve lost clients over the years. Sometimes it’s an amicable parting of ways, other times not. Sometimes it was my fault, and sometimes it was theirs.
Relationships evolve with time, and even those which start out well can take a downward spiral. Yet, sometimes losing a client is okay.
If nothing else, losing a client is a learning lesson. Let’s take a look and consider the following.
Not all clients will be a perfect match for your firm. I learned this early in my career and became more intentional in who I chose to work with.
You can’t win them all, and you certainly cannot please everyone. So, identify who your ideal client is and try to work with only those who match the majority of your criteria.
On the other hand, as your firm grows you may decide to specialize in a niche market, thus alienating some of your existing clients.
Over the years, I’ve periodically changed or increased my client fees. Some clients were okay with it, while others were not.
The bottom line is, I know the value of my service, and if a client isn’t willing to compensate it as such, they don’t fit in with my business.
I recommend evaluating your client list at least once a year and consider those who may not be an ideal match.
There are some different reasons why a client can be difficult (Check out: How to Deal with Difficult Clients (Or Know When to Cut Them Loose)), and it’s not your responsibility to tolerant manipulative or abusive behavior.
Some warning signs of problematic clients include:
If you find yourself spending too much time on a client or the majority of it putting out fires, you’re probably wasting valuable hours which could be better spent on more pleasant clients, who appreciate and value your services.
Regardless of the reason for parting ways, make the transition of losing a client as smooth as possible. Honor any prior agreements you made and respect your contract until the time is up. This is a general courtesy all clients deserve after paying your fees for however long.
Remember, this is business. If you let your emotions get too in the way, you may say or act in a way which can negatively impact future business.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and the last thing you want is an unhappy ex-client bad-mouthing your firm. Be professional and respectful, at all times.
If you can’t handle the leaving client directly, ask a trusted colleague to handle the transition. This is a much better solution than running the risk of losing your cool and risking your firm’s reputation.
You may not be to blame for the severing of ties, but losing a client is still an optimal time to reflect.
If you know the reason why your client is leaving, use this information to assess if changes need to be made.
Losing a client doesn’t necessarily mean you need a total overhaul of your business, but considering a few tweaks, isn’t a bad idea.
Get your team in on the conversation, as well, to get a more holistic view of the situation.
Losing a client can be a profound experience for the growth of your firm, as well as yourself. The world doesn’t end, just because one client leaves.