When is it ok to “sack” a client?

We’re fortunate enough to have lots of lovely clients at face2faceHR and it certainly makes for a much more pleasurable job. But many self-employed professionals find themselves struggling with clients they don’t really enjoy working for.

So when is it ok to ditch a client?

Non payers

Most of our clients pay on time, and when they don’t, it’s usually due to an oversight or administrative error or delay. That’s part and parcel of being self-employed, but what happens when a client persistently doesn’t pay, or refuses to pay despite the contractual requirements? It’s ok to sack them, and we have done so. Spending hours chasing payments and writing letters before claim is not a good use of your time, and can very quickly destroy relationships with clients anyway. So walk away.

Don’t take your advice?

This isn’t one we’ve really come across but if a client persistently ignores your advice, it’s ok to ditch them. Firstly you want to maintain your good record and reputation, and if a client ends up in trouble, and people know you were advising them, that won’t help your credibility as you won’t be able to publicise that they were acting against your advice. Secondly, acting against advice is likely to create more work for you than would otherwise be the case, which is especially problematic in a retained advice relationship, where the key is to avoid problems through ongoing support.

Doing something illegal, immoral or unethical?

You may come across a client who treats employees in a manner you disagree with, or who is doing something in terms of their business practices that is unethical, immoral or illegal. It’s fine to stop working with them, and depending on the circumstances, may be sensible from a business reputational point of view as well…

Poor treatment

If a client treats you badly, shouts at you, insults you or loses their temper, it’s time to say goodbye. You deserve better.

Unreasonable expectations

If a client expects you to be available instantly all the time, or to turn round requests for advice or drafting work immediately, it may be time to say goodbye. Your clients are not paying you a full time wage and need to understand that while you provide them with a good, timely service, and respond as quickly as possible especially in the case of urgent requests, you have other commitments. If they want an HR professional available full time, they need to pay for one!
If you’ve decided to end your relationship with a bad client, make sure you’ve met your contractual obligations. If you work with us, the agreements and contracts you have to use with clients are drafted to ensure you can terminate easily where appropriate, but check the terms of business you are working under to protect yourself. Terminate in writing, in a professional manner.

Don’t get into slanging matches or criticise the client either directly to them or to others. You have a reputation to maintain.

The financial implications of ditching a client are often outweighed by the stress involved in serving that client, (and if they are a bad payer, you’re not getting the financial benefits anyway!) so ditching bad clients can be the best decision you’ll make.

If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR, do get in touch.