Your client doesn’t do what she says she will. She disappears and doesn’t communicate with you for days on end. She talks down to you and berates you.
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 for you 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.
- Did you really need the money and ignored your gut when it said “NO, don’t work with this person!”?
- Are you unsure who your ideal client IS?
- Did your client make some big changes in her business and you’re not quite clicking with the new role?
- Do you hate the work you’re doing or the client you’re working for?
- Did you ignore the warning signs during the pre-client process?
- Do you invoice your client AFTER you do the work and she never pays in a timely manner?
Don’t see your scenario above? Give it some thought and try to pinpoint it before moving on to the next steps.
Journaling about the situation and your feelings can be really helpful during this step or any of the steps below.
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 could not only fix the issue, but 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 she doesn’t pay without you nagging her, start sending your invoice prior to starting her work (and don’t start her work until she pays in full). I actually recommend all VAs to bill up front before doing the work.
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 convo 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 with another positive (the 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 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.
Virtual Assistant Tip: How to Break Up with a Client Click To Tweet
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 her then lead into why you need to go. Again, try to keep it positive and don’t point fingers or blame anyone. When the convo is finished, end it by thanking them for the opportunity.
7) Send an email too. 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 work or hours that are left. Don’t leave your client hanging. Make sure you wrap up what needs completed and do as good of a job as you would with a new client. Ask if there’s anything else they need before you officially say good-bye. They may need access to programs or reminders of where certain documents are stored, etc.
9) Give yourself a pat on the back and go do something fun. You did a really difficult task and you did it with class! Go you! Time for a nice walk or bubble bath!
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 a badass VA!
Want more amazing client tips? Check out my VA’s Guide to Getting Clients!