Letting A Client Go
Ending a relationship is always the hardest even when it’s a professional relationship. You remember your first impression of one another and all the things you’ve accomplished together. That is why firing a client is one of the toughest things you’ll have to do as a Virtual Assistant (VA).
Knowing how to get and keep clients is an important skill to have. After all, they are the ones who need your service, and you also benefit from the relationship. However, knowing when to let go of a client is just as important.
Think of it like a sweet relationship gone sour. At first, you expect and get the nicest things out of each other, then after a while, the romance fades away and they start showing their true colors. They start being toxic and you just can’t wait to get away from them.
Oftentimes, fear stops VA’s from ending things with a client. They fear losing income, they fear failure, and they fear experiencing the anger of another person. We understand that fear is not easy to get over with, however, you must first recognize these things that are holding you back and start to look at the positive things you might gain by overcoming these fears.
Remember that there will always be more and better clients waiting for you. You deserve the best! You do not have to put up with a boss who’s always incessantly nagging you and calling you at 3:00 AM. You also wouldn’t have to worry about confrontation if you end things well and on a good note.
Hence, we are here to guide you through the things you need to know on how to let go of a client properly.
#1 When to let a client go?
First things first, how do we know it's time to let a client go? Well, it’s usually based on how you feel about working with them. Do they make you feel anxious or stressed about deadlines all the time? Do you dread picking up their phone calls? Are they annoying on a daily basis? If so, then, by all means, let them go.
In addition, you also have to assess how the client treats you as their VA. Do they not respect your boundaries or working time? Are they verbally and/or emotionally abusive? Does not raise your rates and never pays on time? Do they have unrealistic expectations? Then, it’s time for you to let them go. Trust us, it won’t be your loss once you do so.
If you see any of these patterns or even worse from your client, then do not hesitate and let them go immediately! These clients will only be a burden to your physical and emotional well-being.
#2 Read your contract!
As VA’s are technically not an employee, we don’t get to expect to enjoy all the same benefits that regular employees do whether it’s while working or when quitting. However, we are independent contractors who sign a contract with a client at the beginning.
One of the main benefits we get out of this is that it is not only the client who gets the right to end a contract for any reason. We do too. Hence, make sure you read through your contracts and make your working conditions clear right from the start!
Speaking of contracts, make sure that you still uphold your end of the bargain. Usually, there is a certain amount of work or projects that must be done and paid for by the time of the termination. Make sure to finish all the duties that you have been paid for to avoid any troubles in the future. Additionally, don’t forget to delete all client information like passwords given to you or credentials that might be sensitive.
Finally, when everything’s set in place, read through your contract again to double-check the termination provision written on your contract, and you’re good to go!
#3 Be straightforward
Most of the time when you know that you just can’t meet all of your client’s expectations or when you really do not feel comfortable working with them anymore, they know it too. Whether they will be the first one to bring it up, or whether you’ll confirm or deny it is up to you. However, if you really want to end things, then you should be straightforward and tell them about your concerns.
You can meet up with them, talk through a video call. or send an email and communicate on how things are currently in your working partnership and how things could be better for the two of you. Although we would recommend meeting in person as the best choice as you wouldn’t want misunderstandings to arise even further.
When you speak with them, make it clear that you are thinking about the client’s best interests and tell them how you may not be the best fit for the project or position anymore. You may also give them suggestions on what they now need moving forward. Do not make it about yourself and just complain about your problems.
#4 Document everything
Remember that you are an independent contractor. After meeting with them in person, make sure to get everything in writing. Get your proofs of all the work completed, the termination agreement, and other future references you can use in case things go bad down the line.
If, however, you can’t meet them in person yet, then record your conversation or send an email for a confirmation from them. Keep all your documentations secured and easily accessible. This way, you are able to protect yourself in the future!
#5 Don’t burn bridges
No matter how much you hated working for a certain client, ending things on a good note is still the best for you. No matter how good your marketing is, bad reviews and trolling are such a pain to handle.
This is also why we suggest being as polite, yet straightforward with your client as you can. In this way, you can avoid misunderstandings that can escalate to things you don’t want to handle.
Ending things on a good note also allows you to get testimonials out of them which you can even use to bring in more potential clients! Not to mention an additional great review of your services which will solidify your credibility.
#6 Preparing for the future and moving on
Before making all these big decisions in your life, we recommend you have a plan set up beforehand. Remember that once you let a client go, everything between the two of you is officially over. Though that might bring a sigh of relief in some cases, it is better to think ahead before you go forward with it.
Ask yourself how much you are currently earning from the client and assess how you will do financially without them. If possible, it’s better to have another client ready to sign a contract with to avoid the loss of income. We also recommend that you save at least three months’ worth of income for expenses once you end things with your client.
Once everything is done, don’t waste a single minute dwelling on the past and torturing yourself with countless thoughts of what if. Face the future right in front of you and seize this opportunity to find better clients and earn better rates.
It hurts to sever ties with a client that you have been working with for a long time, so it doesn’t have to be that way! You can still more or less keep your line of communication with them and be friends.