Let’s say your client doesn’t do what they say they will, or disappears and doesn’t communicate with you for days on end, or disrespects your boundaries and calls you on the weekend when you specifically told them not to on several occasions…
No matter the reason, you’ll know when it’s time to cut the cord with a client.
Is it scary and uncomfortable to break up with a client? Yes.
Are you the only virtual assistant on the planet who has ever had to let a client go? Absolutely not.
At some point in your VA journey, you will probably need to do this. But it’s ok, I have some tips to make it as painless as possible!
DO THIS BEFORE YOU BREAK UP WITH YOUR CLIENT
1) Before breaking up with your client, take note of how you got into this predicament in the first place. That way you’ll be less inclined to do it again.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Did you ignore your gut during the pre-client process when it said, “Don’t work with this person!”?
- Are you unsure who your ideal client IS?
- Do you hate the work you’re doing or the client you’re working for?
- Do you invoice your client AFTER you do the work and they never pay in a timely manner?
Give it some thought and try to pinpoint the issue or issues before moving on to the next steps. Journaling is an excellent tool for figuring out your feelings and the issues you’re having.
2) Try fixing the problem. Now every situation is different, but if you feel that a good heart-to-heart may help, do that initially. Your client may be unaware of what’s going on. Being open and honest with your client might just fix the issue and as an added bonus, also strengthen your relationship.
You may find that instead of talking to the client, you need to update your business policies. For instance, if you invoice your client AFTER doing the work and they never pay without you nagging them, start sending your invoice prior to starting their work (and don’t start their work until they pay in full).
I actually recommend all VAs bill their clients upfront before doing any work unless they know the client is a good payer or they are doing an expensive project like designing a new website. In that case, you can send an invoice for half prior to starting the project and then the remaining balance when the project is complete.
STILL NEED TO BREAK UP? FOLLOW THESE 10 STEPS
1) Write down what you want to say. Writing a script beforehand will help you stay focused. Be sure to have a list of reasons why you’re unhappy, but don’t go into too much detail. You want the conversation to be short and sweet.
2) Remember the sandwich technique when giving bad news: start out with something positive (the bread), then deliver the news (the sandwich filling), and top it off with another positive (the other slice of bread).
3) Realize you’re not alone and that you’re actually doing your client a favor. Your client deserves to work with someone who enjoys doing their work and is a better fit.
4) Check your contract. Make sure you follow your termination provision. For example, are you supposed to give notice within a certain time frame like a week or 30 days?
5) Schedule a time to talk. Telling them over the phone is probably the best way to give them the news (I know, I know! It’s sucks!). If you feel it’s better to email them instead, go ahead and do that. You know what’s best.
6) Keep it positive. Nobody likes to be broken up with, so make it positive and leave on good terms. Never burn a bridge! Start out by explaining how much you’ve enjoyed working with them then lead into why you need to go. Again, try to keep it positive and don’t point fingers or blame anyone. When the conversation is finished, end it by thanking them for the opportunity of working with them.
7) Send a follow-up email. It’s a good idea to also have your termination in writing to protect yourself. Send the email after the call and reiterate when you’ll be leaving and any other details you need to communicate (like unfinished projects).
8) Complete any remaining work or hours. Don’t leave your client hanging. Make sure you wrap up what needs to be completed and do as good of a job as you would for a new client. Ask if there’s anything else they need before you officially say goodbye. They may need access to programs or reminders of where certain documents are stored, and so on.
9) Give yourself a pat on the back and go do something fun. Reward yourself. You did a really difficult task and you did it with class! Go you! Time for a nice walk, bubble bath, or to Doordash some chocolate cake!
10) Learn from the experience. Don’t beat yourself up! Just do things differently next time. Listen to your gut, know who you want to work with and who you don’t, create stronger business policies, and don’t take on work you know you won’t enjoy or won’t be good at.
It sucks when you realize your client isn’t the best fit for you, but it happens.
If you’re feeling more miserable than happy, it’s time to let the client go. Being honest with yourself and your client is tough, but doing so allows you both to find someone who’s a better fit.
Know when it’s time to go, do it the right way, and give yourself credit for being an awesome VA!
Need help creating your boundaries and contract? I have a Client Contract Kit inside the Introvert VA Club that includes everything you need including a business policies workbook, contract templates, and tutorials on how to send your contract!