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An old adage says “the customer is always right.” Although it’s true that your business should work hard to meet the needs of its clients, sometimes those “needs” are really just demands that are excessive, outlandish and even impossible.
Many people talk about the best and worst ways to deal with difficult clients, but actually firing a client can be a difficult task to execute, especially for a new business. Still, it is important to let go of clients who are bringing you and your business down, and it can even benefit your business in tangible ways.
Look out for these red flags that indicate when firing that bad client will benefit your business.
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When they’re inappropriate or just downright mean
Dissatisfied clients have a tendency to complain, but this behavior can manifest in a wide range of ways. For instance, a frustrated client might be short or even rude to you or your employees. This could be cause for concern, but it isn’t necessarily a fire-able offense. However, if a client is consistently mean, hostile or inappropriate, it will inevitably foster a toxic work environment for everybody involved.
It’s important to be cognizant of any language or behavior that feels outside the realm of customary business norms. Discrimination against employees of a certain gender, race, sexual orientation and others can be more subtle — and is more common — than you might think. This is also true of sexually harassing comments and insulting or hostile behavior.
When they request or assume that you will act unethically
A fire-able client might bully you or your employees. Bullying behavior ranges from cruel words to pressuring somebody to act in a certain way or even to making excessive or impossible demands.
If you encounter a client who asks you or an employee to act in a way that is unethical, that should immediately trigger a hard separation and cancellation of future work. If fulfilling a client’s request will in any way compromise the morals or mission of your company, you must fire this client. Holding on to their business will cost you your reputation. It isn’t worth that cost, regardless of earning potential.
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When they undervalue your service
There are lots of valid reasons for clients to bring up questions about money. They might question why a product or service costs as much as it does or even joke about how much revenue your company generates.
These comments seem harmless as long as you’re still being paid, but they are implicit indicators that your client does not see the real value in what you do for them. This can lead to resentment, complaints, attempted renegotiation of prices and in extreme cases a total refusal to pay.
Before putting in your time and resources to work for any client, make sure that they value what you’re doing for them and will compensate you appropriately.
Firing bad clients actually helps you become more successful in the long run
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of firing a difficult client promptly is that you mitigate the risk of retaliation.
Especially in this day and age, disgruntled customers are often inclined to write negative social media reviews. No matter how much credibility these reviews may have, they still constitute negative press for your company. Consequently, working with extremely dissatisfied clients could also make you lose out on other, better clients. Avoid this whenever possible.
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In extreme cases of retaliation, clients might threaten lawsuits if you don’t comply with difficult or impossible demands. Avoiding a legal battle will save you time, money and peace of mind.
In addition, you will have more energy to devote to better clients. Trying to accommodate excessively demanding clients takes up large amounts of time during your daily operations. Cutting them loose will allow more time for increased productivity and idea generation. Devoting more time and resources to quality clients helps you to establish high standards for your client base, both in terms of what you do and which clients you choose to work with.
Overall, the benefits of firing a difficult client will likely outweigh the costs, so it is important to stay vigilant. When you notice that a client is doing you more harm than good, take decisive action.
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