How to know it's time to fire a client


I had someone ask me recently how they should approach a client who they didn’t want to work with anymore. My answer: fire em’. What would Beyonce do? Put that on a bracelet and wear it.

I have a way to calculate whether a client is worth having on my books or not, and it’s a simple question of is the money worth the headache? Are they costing me more than they’re giving me? Most importantly, are they high maintenance and low profit? If you need more information on how to discern whether or not they need to be fired, you can check out my post on high maintenance clients here.

There can be a lot of different factors at play here that can make this more complicated than a simple business relationship. Sometimes they are friends, acquaintances, or family of our friends. Sometimes they’re your best friends ex boyfriends sister and you just feel bad. Listen: you’re always going to feel bad. It means you have a heart. But the fact that you’ve realized they’re more of a pain to your business than an asset, means you also care about your business enough to want to save your time for the people who you can serve well. You want to be the best for your clients, and this one person isn’t allowing you to do that.

Once you’ve decided that you do need to fire them, the burning question of “how” comes in.

  • First:

I always suggest leading with whatever form of communication you typically have with this client, but if text or email is easier for your stomach to handle - go ahead with that.

  • Second:

    I suggest that you turn the attention away from how you feel, and focus more on the benefit of the client. Saying things like “I don’t feel like i’ve been able to deliver on your expectations for your hair, and for that reason I think it is best we find you a stylist who can better suit your needs.” or “Because I want you to love your hair, I can recommend a couple of stylists in the area that specialize in _____ and might be better suited for your needs.” See what I did there? I made it about their benefit, not mine.

  • Third:

    Be direct, and don’t apologize profusely. You want to make sure that regardless of whether they reply, they got the point. So make sure you say something along the lines of “For this reason I have canceled your next appointment, please let me know if you would like some recommendations of stylists in the area.” (P.s. don’t recommend them to someone who can’t handle them or who you know will have the same issues when doing they’re hair. If you don’t know anyone - don’t recommend anyone. And you don’t want to profusely apologize because It makes you sound uncertain and gives them ammo to be upset. Keeping it short and to the point helps the delivery, and makes it easier for both of you to move on. (starting to sound like a break-up, right? I guess it kind of is one.)

  • Fourth:

    Don’t dwell on it. You might not get a reply. You might get an angry reply. You might have upset a whole line of people, but don’t go in to the blame game or the drama. Just let it be, trust it was the best decision for your business and put your focus back in to your work. In a couple days you’re going to feel a lot better about not having the anxiety of their next appointment and subsequent “redo” on your books. That weight you lifted will feel so good - I promise.

    Have you ever had to fire a client? Tell us about your experience and any tips you might have below in the comment section!

Esther ChapmanComment