Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – How To End A Client Relationship
Unlike a standard nine to five career, working for yourself means you can offer your services to clients you genuinely want to build a relationship with and work with. However, you’ll find that those relationships can run their course and sometimes it’s necessary to cut all ties, which can mean having to have a difficult conversation. Ending a working relationship with a client can be challenging, particularly for freelancers who are new to the industry. But no matter what the reason is, this process should still be done in a diplomatic and professional way.
“I have new opportunities which are bigger and better that I’d like to focus on”
This often happens when contractors find that their business model is evolving and they are landing more and more exciting projects. This development means it may no longer make sense to work with clients from an earlier stage – perhaps because the projects are too small and time-consuming, or it is no longer the type of work you want to focus on. A good way to end a relationship for this reason would be to make sure you assure clients that you’ll finish any projects you’re currently working on, and to also offer to put them in touch with others who might fill the role.
“My relationship with the client has turned toxic and I don’t want to work with them anymore”
Occasionally, you might decide further down the line that you don’t want to work with a client anymore as the relationship has turned sour. In this interesting article, A Consultant’s Guide to Firing a Client, Dorie Clark says “Unless your relationship has become toxic, it’s best to hang tough until your contract is up for renewal, and then gently explain to the client – who might be thinking the same thing – that this is the perfect point to wind down your engagement.” Think about what ‘toxic’ really means – consider how the client is affecting your quality of life and whether you would be prepared to wait it out until the natural end of the relationship or the end of your contract with them.
“The low fees that I set when I was starting out are unsustainable, as I can now take on projects that offer a higher rate of pay”
It might be the case that you think the client is great and you love working with them, but that you’ve started gaining experience which means you can charge higher prices – therefore outgrowing your existing fee structure. Setting low rates is a common issue with freelancers, as many will initially sell themselves short. The problem is that clients might get used to that rate of pay and therefore might be unwilling to pay increased fees for the same work. When your services are developing at this level, you may need to seek out different clients who would be willing to pay the higher fees that you have decided to set.
Having to ‘break up’ with a client is one of the most challenging (but necessary) conversations you’ll have as a freelancer. Handling it in a professional way is much more likely to leave the door open to referrals, recommendations and future work. If you need help or advice about other freelancer issues, such as accountancy or IR35 Guidance, then get in touch online or at 0800 195 3750 to talk with the team.