How To Know When To Fire a Client (Ouch!) (ep. 30)

How To Know When To Fire a Client (Ouch!) (ep. 30)

We want all the clients we can get, right? Not necessarily! Sometimes “firing” a client is one of the best things you can do for your business. In this episode, Pamela shares how to know when to take action and how to do it gracefully.

In this episode, you will:

  • Learn the 3 important questions to ask when considering whether to fire a client.
  • The must-do actions to keep your brand and sanity intact.
  • The surprising outcome you often see with this. (Hint: It’s a good thing!)

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Timecode Guide:

  • 02:32: Discover the 3 important questions to ask yourself when you’re considering whether or not to fire a client.
  • 08:11: What are the must-do actions to keep your brand and sanity intact?
  • 13:09: Let’s talk about the surprising outcome you get when you do this.

Resources Mentioned

Want to know more about how to attract your ideal clients online? We’d love to chat! Grab a Breakthrough Session with one of my coaches to learn how to create real impact and income online.

Podcast Transcription

Episode 30: How To Know When To Fire a Client (Ouch!)


Intro (00:00):
You’re listening to ‘A Profitable Impact.’

Pamela (00:02):
We always think we want all the clients we can get, right? Not necessarily sometimes firing a client is one of the best things you can do for your business. The trick is how do you know when to do that? And how do you do it gracefully?

Gene (00:15):
Welcome to ‘A Profitable Impact,’ where every single week we help experts like coaches, healers, course creators, and other online professionals to expand their reach, increase their impact in the world, and be well-paid for their extraordinary skills and talents. My name is Gene Monterastelli, and I am the lead coach in Pamela Bruner’s Impact Accelerator coaching program. And now please welcome my friend, my colleague, and the CEO of Attract Clients Online, Pamela Bruner. How are you doing today, Pamela?

Pamela (00:42):
I’m doing great. And we are talking about a conversation. That’s a little higher level conversation and someone that I just, I love to have, even though it’s a little bit of an ouch, which is how to know when to fire a client.

Gene (00:56):
And it’s one of those things that it’s really good, that we have a sense of how to approach a topic like this, so that if the situation comes up, we’re already prepared and we know how to deal with it versus trying to manage this when we’re dealing with something that’s really emotional and hard. So even if you’re not in a circumstance where you’re thinking about having really difficult clients right now, this is something that’s going to be really useful so that when, and if it happens, you’re going to be prepared.

Pamela (01:21):
Yeah. And usually I call this a Rite of passage. Somebody says, “oh, this client is such a problem,” and often in our group other people will say, “might be time to fire that person.” And it’s hard because we believe we want all the clients we can get, but sometimes firing a client is one of the best things that you can do for your business. So how do you know when to take action and how do you do it gracefully? So in this episode, we’re going to talk about the three important questions to ask when considering whether to fire a client, the must-do actions to keep your brand and your sanity intact and a surprising outcome. You often see when you go through this process and just as a spoiler, it’s a good thing.

Gene (02:05):
So as we have our conversation today, if you’re in a circumstance where you’re recognizing that you’re starting to bump into challenges that a growing business is facing, and you’d like some help navigating those with a little more grace and ease, we’d love for you to have a conversation with one of our coaches. All you need to do is go to BookMyBreakthroughCall.com, that’s BookMyBreakthroughCall.com. And you can have a free conversation with one of our coaches to help you as your business is being created and growing. So

What to Ask Yourself When You’re Thinking About Firing a Client?

Pamela (02:32):
What are the important questions to ask when you’re considering whether to fire a client? How do you even begin that conversation with yourself? Well, one of the things that I think is really important to consider is, is this client demanding things that are outside of what I offer now, it’s always okay to ask. And, you know, in a previous podcast, Gene, you’d talked about one of our clients years ago, who in a private with, you said, you know what? I want to work on my love life. And we don’t do that. We do business. So that was asking for something outside of what we offer and, and you very rightly turned that person down. So it’s okay to ask, but it’s also okay for you to say no politely gracefully, and they need to accept that. Also, if they’re consistently asking for things outside of what you offer, if they’re not taking no for an answer gracefully, it may very well be a mismatch

Gene (03:31):
Things I like to do. Pamela, when I am beginning to work with someone, is I like to pre-frame people asking for help in the beginning. And oftentimes what I tell them is this is the scope of the program. And as we navigate our way through this, please feel free to ask for what you need, but also recognize the fact that as you ask for what you need, we’re going to have conversations about whether or not I am the right person to help you with that. And if it is inside the scope of the program and so ask for what you need and know that we’re going to then have a conversation to see what is the best way to get help for you. And it might not be with what we’re doing right now. And so by doing that ahead of time, I am giving them permission to ask. So I’m not in a circumstance at the end of the program. We’re like, boy, I wish we would have. And I’m also letting them know if they do ask for something, just because they ask for it. I’m not going to say yes, but I’m already explaining the reasons why wouldn’t say yes at a time where they’re not in distress or need. So it makes having these conversations easier. And what we’re talking about today is when they stop being easy and they get much harder.

Pamela (04:35):
Exactly. So I believe the second important question to ask yourself, besides are they demanding things that are outside of what I offer is, do I feel an energy drain with this client, the clients that if you pull up your calendar and you see that you’re talking to this person, you go, okay. If you have that reaction to one of your clients, it’s probably not a good fit. And you may not be showing up no matter how heart-centered you are, no matter how committed and dedicated you are. If it’s a real energy drain to work with someone, you may not actually be serving them at the level that’s appropriate.

Gene (05:14):
Sometimes when we have that experience, Pamela, it can be a couple for a couple of reasons. One of them is we had a client who we thought was a really good fit for us. And all of a sudden we’ve learned they’ve haven’t the other time what can happen is when we feel that is, it gives us a really good opportunity to reevaluate who we are making offers to make sure that we’re enrolling the right people as we’re going forward. So not only is this an opportunity for us to look at the client that we’re struggling with, but it also gives us a big picture. And maybe it’s after the fact, and we’re done navigating this particular situation to ask the question, okay, this happened, what are the things that I can do in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen? Because I’ve learned this particular type of person is the wrong fit for me. And

Pamela (05:58):
It’s often the case that you don’t know till you get in. But I always think that you’re right, that it’s good to evaluate. It’s like evaluating any change. Of course, I don’t want to call it a mistake. I call it a change. Of course, I think it’s valuable to say, is there a way that I could have prevented needing to make this change? Of course. And if there’s not, if you just didn’t know ahead of time, great. If there’s something you can discover. That’s great. So the third question to ask yourself when you’re considering whether to fire a client is what else is this client costing me? And you’ve got a great list of possibilities for what a client might be costing. Gene, can you run through that?

Gene (06:39):
Some of the things that clients can be costing us outside of the time is what is going on is time away from other clients. If we have a client who is super demanding, and even if we’re saying no to their requests, but it’s taking us time and energy to do that, that is less time I’m getting to commit with my other clients that I have. A second thing to consider is like, are they costing me time away from work? So when I am not at working, is this client coming into my head? And I’m like, oh my gosh, I have to deal with this tomorrow. Or I can’t believe this client if they’re consuming a great deal of time outside of work. The third is if I’m in a circumstance where, because I’m spending so much time and energy thinking about this particular client, it’s impacting my ability to do the other tasks in my business, like creating content or marketing or anything else.

Gene (07:28):
And I think the last way that a client can cost us stuff is if them constantly questioning us is starting to undermine our own confidence and our ability to do our work. Because as a human, when someone is giving us negative feedback about something, we hear it because on a primitive level, we want to be safe. And when someone is complaining, that’s part of being unsafe. And if I have a client that is constantly going on and on and on and taking a huge amount of my time, because they’re the wrong fit. If that is impacting my confidence, as I’m showing up to my other clients or my other sales conversations, then that becomes something that is not only toxic in the time that I’m spending with the wrong fit client, but it’s also corrosive and other parts of my business.

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Must-Do Actions

Pamela (08:11):
Yeah. That’s a great, great way to look at it. And it helps you uncover all of the ways in which clients that are the wrong fit can be a drain to you, your life, your business. So what are the must-do actions that you need to do to keep your brand and sanity intact? Well, I’m going to start off with a statement that is a bit of a controversial statement, which is the money is not the most important thing. You didn’t go into this business just to make money. I’m sure you went into it to make money. I hope you did. And I hope that these podcasts help you make money. And the money’s not the most important thing. Having a business that really serves the world that serves you and your, that makes a difference for people, including you, your family, your clients, the money will happen.

Pamela (09:02):
I believe it won’t happen without the right business training without you taking the actions. But the money’s not the most important thing. And particularly the money from any one client is not the most important thing. The, so hang on to that thought as we go through the actions, the first action that I’m going to suggest that you keep in the front of your mind is regardless of the client’s treatment of you be professional and respectful to that client. Always, always, it doesn’t matter if the client is provoking. You know, I’ve, I’ve done a, how many live events now, Gene, I don’t know, 13, 14, something like that with hundreds of people in the room. And well I’ve never had anyone get up and be nasty to me and a microphone. I’ve certainly had people get up and ask pointed questions like, you know, Pamela, is this all about money for you? Or, or, but aren’t you just marketing an art or this is two sales a year, you know, make some kind of criticism in front of 200 people. And it doesn’t matter how someone addresses you. If you stay professional and respectful, you’ve always got the upper hand and you can always take pride in what you’re doing.

Gene (10:12):
Well, the easy ways to do that particular thing is I find validating someone’s emotional experience without validating any of the accusations or facts, quote, unquote, facts that they are claiming in that particular circumstance makes it so much easier to do that because what I’m not doing is I’m not saying you are wrong. I am saying, okay, I appreciate the fact that you feel this way. So I’m saying your emotional experience is what you are having and invalidating that, which then makes it easier for me to engage in a professional, respectful conversation about what we are talking about in that particular setting.

Pamela (10:52):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. The second must do action is to create a policy for how you end a relationship with a client during a time that you don’t have a challenge with a client. It’s much easier to think rationally about criteria, where you would suggest that you end a relationship with a client, how you might end that relationship, particular ways of creating closure and off-boarding and things like that. Because if you don’t have a policy, when you are in the emotional maelstrom of dealing with a challenging client, then it’s much harder for you to, to think rationally. You’ll probably think around that particular client rather than around a policy.

Gene (11:34):
And for me, you know, another business that I run we, we make her our primary income from being presenters, speakers, and performers, and for 25 years and 70% of the letter of agreement that we now have has come from miscommunications with clients along the way where we solve the problem in the moment, because it wasn’t dealt with properly in the letter of agreement that we had. But after the fact we did exactly what you said, Pamela, in a thoughtful, deliberate, rational way when we’re outside of that particular struggle when awesome, what is the communication that we can have ahead of time? What is the policies that need to be in place ahead of time? So the next time this does not become a problem. So every single time we bump into something like this, it’s a great opportunity for us to reevaluate the communication and the contract that we have with the people that we’re working with and just continue to update it as it grows with us.

The Surprising Outcome

Pamela (12:25):
Absolutely. I used to do the same thing as a professional musician and the clauses and the, the music contract came out of crazy requests. When I got on site and feeling like I just needed to provide the music at the time. So I think that happens in all businesses. The third action to keep, I think your brand and your sanity intact is if you have contracts with your clients. And I strongly suggest that you do for any kind of high ticket offer, create a contract release document. And this is something that you will want to talk to your attorney about, because if you have a contract that’s a legally binding document. And if you’re going to release someone from a contract and they’re going to, they’re going to release you from providing services and you’re going to release them possibly from making payments or something like that.

Pamela (13:09):
You do want an attorney to review or vet that document. But you can create a contract release document at least emotionally at first, so that you are severing the relationship and then make sure to vet it legally. Now let’s talk about what happens when you do this, because this is what I think of as a surprising outcome and Gene, you and I have seen this over and over in the decades, plus that we’ve run our businesses both separately. And the, the one that in my business that you support me on, when you tell the universe what you want and what you don’t want, you actually get better clients. It’s not uncommon to fire a client and then get three more new ones who are ideal. And this is a spiritual principle. I don’t know why it works. I don’t know if it’s that you release a client, you free up mental space and mental energy and emotional energy to take on new people. But it’s extraordinary that when you fire a client, often your business bumps or grows, or in some way expands.

Gene (14:14):
And as you say that Pamela I’ve actually in the last 13 years, I’ve had this exact thing happened four times in my practice. The most recent one, just this past February, where part of the reason why there was this bumping up against and having a bad fit of a client that I needed to release was it was not that because I got rid of the client, I then stepped into a new space. It was, I had already stepped into a new space and how I was doing work and who I needed to serve and consciously and intellectually, I had not fully embraced that particular thing. And so I was still marketing to and stepping into clients who I used to be a good fit for. And so by letting go of someone in this particular way where we’re removing a client that is no longer a good fit for us, part of that was claiming, oh yeah, that’s because this is the thing I would really like to be doing. And in the process of letting go of the old, I was internally and explicitly giving myself permission to step into the thing I’d slowly been evolving into in my business. And it was now time to fully embrace.

Pamela (15:22):
And this is related to, you know, as you begin to offer and make new offerings, like we work with people, therapists who then add coaching programs, people who do single sessions or monthly coaching, who then transform their business into a high ticket signature system or offer. And sometimes it’s letting a client go or firing a client who is, as you said, working with you under an old model, and they’re just not prepared to step into the new model. And that is a conversation we’ll have at another time, because that’s more about business growth and how you shift models and things like that. But it is a good thing when, when you know, when and how to fire a client effectively gracefully, and with minimal emotional challenge on both sides, it’s just so much cleaner as you continue.


Gene (16:12):
To grow in your business and you bump into new challenges that feel like they’re outside of your experience and expertise, we would love to help you to be able to grow into those and to be able to manage those. You can have a free conversation with one of our coaches. All you need to do is go to BookMyBreakthroughCall.com, that’s BookMyBreakthroughCall.com, get on the calendar of one of our coaches. And they can help you as you’re navigating new landscapes, as your business grows and transforms. If you enjoyed the conversation we had and you know, someone else in your life who would really appreciate one of these conversations, you might know another small business owner who has been complaining to you, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I have this type of client,” this might be exactly what they need today to help them to grow in their business.

Gene (16:56):
Please pass it along. If you have a question, a comment, or a topic that you’d like us to cover on a future episode, please reach out. All you need to do is go to AttractClientsOnline.com, click on the contact link, shoot us an email and let us know. It’s a question for the podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to the show. You can Subscribe on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, everywhere you get audio. All you need to do is search for ‘A Profitable Impact,’ and even though sometimes they use the word, subscribe. Podcasts are always free. For ‘A Profitable Impact,’ I am Gene Monterastelli. Until next time, I hope you have an impactful week.


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