Do you drop that client? Sucks for everyone, but maybe it doesn’t have to.
This is always a tough question, because it’s sensitive, there’s a big reputation factor on the line with both yourself and client, and it should be something that’s a last resort.
You and your clients are running businesses, you are adults, having difficult conversations such as this will happen.
First and foremost, you have to deliver what you say you would, as best you could.
I think that goes without saying.
But we’ve all faced situations in our service business where this question can pop into our heads:
- Where a client doesn’t pay on time
- The client is non-responsive
- Client didn’t communicate fully
- There were unrealistic expectations
- Scope continues to change
- You want to move away from that type of service
- Too many bumps in the road and the trust on both sides has eroded away
Areas of responsibility
When this question pops into your head, it’s important to really take a look at the road to this point.
Who was responsible for what and how did each party know that?
What were the terms?
Why did it get to this point?
Having an objective look at the situation may highlight things that can be solved and prevented in the future.
Own your mistakes, even if your client doesn’t own theirs. This is where the high road will always win out.
Set aside time to talk
As much as the conversation is going to suck, you have to reach out and set aside some time to have a conversation with the client.
Ending the relationship should be the last resort, because depending on all the aspects of it, it could get messy very fast.
Instead, see if there can be some level of compromise met. You may have to give a little to get a little here. This is especially in the case of getting paid and timelines. If there has been set terms, or no terms at all, signed in a contract that you are looking to alter, compromise is key.
However if there is total fault on yourself or your client, then there needs some accountability there.
If it’s late payment, the way to handle that is to stop doing work until the payment has been caught current.
Some explanation here may be needed and proof, so don’t go into the conversation without that.
Don’t point fingers
It’s imperative to not place blame and point fingers.
Explain that there’s an issue in the engagement, and offer up some possible solutions with some hard guidelines.
When you start placing blame, it lowers the professionalism of the relationship further and no one likes to feel like a kid on the playground being blamed for losing the ball.
Here are some further resources that you'll want to check out that directly relate to the show.
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