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How to Fire a Client (the Right Way)

how to fire a client

If you’re a new business owner who loves working with every single one of your clients, props to you. You’re living the dream. Not to be a buzzkill, but every biz owner encounters a problem client sooner or later. And in some cases, you’ll have to let them go.

Wondering how to fire a client the right way? Read on to learn how to fire a client so that you don’t burn any bridges or suffer unpleasant consequences for your biz.

First, take a step back and breathe

Before you type up an angry email and hit “Send,” stop. Take a deep breath. Give yourself time to think about what’s going on. There are plenty of  toxic clients out there, sure, but just because one client seems terrible at the momentdoesn’tmean that you need to fire them right now.

Maybe there was serious one-time miscommunication between the two of you. Maybe you have different work styles that clash. Or maybe you’re both just having a bad week. For reasons like these, you may want to focus on the issue at hand and  work with the client to get past it.

However, if this client:

  • Rarely communicates their needs or expectations with you
  • Has unrealistic demands
  • Takes forever to make a decision on your work
  • Gives you zero support when it comes to their end of the project
  • Questions expenses and fees
  • Has terrible boundaries when calling, emailing, or meeting you
  • Doesn’t treat you with respect
  • Makes you dread your job

…then it’s time to say goodbye. 

Get your timing right (and check your contract)

Once you’ve decided that it’s best to part ways with your client, you need to check your contract. (You do  have a contract, right?! Please say yes.)

More specifically, look at  the terms of your contract that have to do with client cancellation. 

  • Your cancellation clause. Your contract should have a specific section in it that explains what happens if you have to cancel services with your client.
  • How you get paid before you stop working together. Are you owed money for any work that’s already been completed?
  • How much notice you need to give your client. You may need to wait a certain amount of time so they can find your replacement.
  • What happens to your work together. Are there any final deliverables they’re entitled to even if you cancel?

Whenever you can, don’t leave your client in the lurch. Finish the project, send them the deliverables, or end your relationship officially when your contract ends. That’s just the professional thing to do. Plus, if you break your contract early, you may lose out on pay or have to return a deposit back to them.

Always be professional during your meeting

It’s time to have the big, scary conversation with your client. How should you break up? You can set up a face-to-face meeting or a Zoom meeting, but whichever you choose, you shouldalsoprepare an email so that you have your cancellation in writing.

What should you say? It depends. There are a few general reasons you can give for firing them:

  • “We’re not a good fit.” This is a good approach to take if your client is a pain in the butt, but you can’t tell them that, of course. 
  • “My biz is moving in a different direction.” If you really are growing or scaling your business and you no longer have the bandwidth to handle this client, use this option.
  • “I’m raising my rates.” You can try doubling your rates (or increasing them even more) to price out your client. Just know what next step to take if they accept your new rate.

Be very clear about your reasoning, thank them for their business, and always close the conversation with next steps. Include the date your relationship will end, details about pay and deliverables, and any actions they need to take next.

No matter which route you take, make it professional, not personal. Don’t blame them for everything (even if they deserve it). People talk, and if you’re rude to this client, you can bet that they’ll spread the word about their bad experience  to other potential clients of yours.

Firing clients is never easy

It’s emotional and scary, and never gets any easier no matter how long you’ve been running your biz. But sometimes, it’s just necessary. Parting ways with a client can let your biz grow and make room for new clients. Letting go of toxic client relationships works wonders for your mental health and stress levels, too!

We hope this blog helped you map out a tough conversation. And remember, having a solid contract to protect you and your biz can help you feel more confident when firing a client. We have  contract templates for coaches, wedding photographers, independent contractors, and everything in between — so grab the one that’s perfect for your biz today.  


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