There is a lot of talk (including on here) about how to get a new client. But, there is not much chatter about how to fire a client. And, it’s not because no client ever needs to be fired. In fact, I think plenty of clients out there probably do. But, if you’re struggling to grow your business or you don’t have solidly policies in place or worse, you have policies in place but you don’t uphold them firing a client is harder than finding a new one. However, I firmly believe that while you are in the “service” industry (meaning you provide a service) you are not “of service” to others. And, you should be treated with the same amount of respect as you show your clients. So, how do you fire a client?
Lets talk about why you would fire a client:
- They do not follow policies even after repeated discussions about following policies.
- They are verbally or physically abusive to you or other clients.
- They do not pay on time or pay for their late cancels (see #1).
- They want times you cannot/do not offer (firing may seem like a strong word for this instance).
- They’re expectations, pressure on you or Pilates is unrealistic.
If you have multiple clients who are breaking your policies or treating you badly it’s important that you reflect on how you may have created this opportunity.
Do you have policies in place?
Were they given verbally and in written form?
Did the client sign and agree to them?
When they broke them the first time did you address it?
No one deserves to be treated badly and if you don’t have strong policies or an agreement people should still be awesome humans and treat you with decency. But, truth is we train people how to treat us. So, before you fire your entire line up of clients put together a list of rules and procedures. Put it in writing, have your clients agree to these and then when they break them address how they broke them. Uphold the policy.
If the client values you they will likely apologize and continue you on understanding the repercussions. If they don’t and they moan, whine, complain, or worse then you know there is no changing them.
Firing a client no matter how much they deserve it is not easy though. You are in fact confronting someone and also saying no to money. Something most people do not find easy. But, if you want to have a thriving career (part-time or full time) you want to make sure that the priority of you staying protected, valued and inspired is there.
Most clients when you uphold your policies who do not want to follow your rules will fire themselves. Keep this in mind. If you are holding firm on your boundaries, cancellation policies, rate increases and more then they’ll likely make up and excuse and simply stop.
But, there is the rare occasion of the completely oblivious, non-observant, blissfully unaware person who not only treats you badly or doesn’t follow rules that will need to have an actual firing.
I have had to do this one time for myself and a few times for teachers who worked for me in the past for various reasons. Some client rule-breaking is so off-putting there is no need for a warning conversation. Abuse is one of those things and you’ll have to decide for yourself what level of abuse you will have a warning conversation about and which ones you will fire immediately. But, do make sure you have a client agreement of what types of behavior will and won’t be tolerated.
When I fired a client who could be slightly verbally abusive the teacher felt like the client didn’t know they were being that way. So, I had a conversation with the client telling examples of things said that would no longer be tolerated. They apologized and then two sessions later repeated the transgression. The teacher on the spot addressed it. (Which was very brave and can be hard to do). The client didn’t agree they had broken this rule. I had to thank the client for coming but helped refer her to another studio where a teacher might be more to their liking. Her sessions were refunded.
The client I had to fire was someone who was mostly nice. But, every other session she would try to move her time around the same day. And, that was annoying, not a reason to fire but took extra time out of my days.
Then this same client would text me at random hours of the day and night asking non-Pilates questions. When I addressed her not texting me outside of rescheduling her session before 24 hours prior to her session and not for any other reason she said: “she never bothered me.”
She would early cancel every 3rd session by minutes. And then when I told her I could no longer uphold her standing appointment because she had missed it for 2 months. She said that it was because I missed.
It was clear that no matter what evidence I showed her and no matter how much I upheld my policies she was never going to. So, I refunded her what was left of her package and gave her the referral info of teachers who might be better suited for her.
It wasn’t easy. She was combative in email. She lied. She did everything she could to stay on as a client. And, firing her was one of the best things I did. It wasn’t just the two-three sessions a week of time I got back. It was the time around the sessions too.
And, I was able to make room in my schedule for two other clients who are doubly better as humans to be around. Inspiring to teach. Who never ask me to discount them or break a rule.
I know it’s hard to get rid of a client. Saying “no” to money is really hard. Especially if you don’t have a client to replace them with right away. But, once you do you’ll have created space that the universe will fill with an even better client.
So, go ahead and fire them! But first, make sure you’ve done your due diligence to make it easy for them to fire themselves. AKA you must create and uphold policies in your business and train your clients on how to treat you. Sound ok? And if they don’t remember what Ice Cube said, “Bye Felecia.” #blockthemandblessthem
Ps if you need help creating rules around your rates, cancellations, studio use etc. Contact me here. Your business’s strength is only as strong as the foundation it is built on.