How to Fire a Client?

When to Fire a Client?

Why many virtual assistants are successful? Simple, know the health of their client relationships. You need clients who appreciate what you do, for a virtual assistant business to be successful. For running your freelance business, an overly demanding client, will only result in little time. Do not confuse a challenging project with a challenging client. The later will make you dreaded while the former will make your workplace better. Say, “you’re fired” if the later happens.

So, I have written some guides and tips on the who, how and when to fire a client as stated below:

10 Types of Clients You Must Fire

Finding clients is a challenging task for any VAs. A quality leads on a budget from top markets and CEOs is a must. However, the most important success factor is maintaining the right ‘client mix’ and not the ones that drains your resources with too many demands.

You could chase new and exciting work, if you stop salvaging deteriorating relationships. Avoiding the following 10 types of clients will help you to avoid this situation:

Client #1:

Ms. Unrealistic

The client sees the VA-client relationship as a card game. She won’t tell the budget for it but will demand top-shelf work in a ridiculous time frame. She will state red flag phrases like, “I thought you would…” or “why is that going to cost so much” or “can that be done today” or “I’m underwhelmed”. Deliver your best work at your worst-ever price is what she really wants. Despite her big budget, it will make her not worth the trouble because of uncertainty plus unrealistic demands with lack of satisfaction.

What to do? Do clarify your terms and conditions in your scope of work with the client. Ensure it is on the written agreement. Clear commitments between VA and client is a must. To stop client’s unreasonable demands, a well-defined implementation process is essential. To meet client’s expectations, under promising and over delivering is needed.

Client #2:

Mr. Invisible

A client that vanishes too fast, after the first meeting. So, your best bet is spam him with multiple messages on email, phone or even his social media accounts. Despite all those efforts, client will not respond. This will result in delays. My recommendation, you must avoid this client.

What to do? For company or business, find out who is/are the other contact person that you need to report to about the job. But, if it’s a sole owner of that business, then you need to find ease of ways to have two-way communication with this client. Clarify how the importance of this communication process.

Client #3:

Mr. NO

The answer is simply NO. Mr. No will likely say “I like that but …” or

“Content marketing didn’t work for us, we tried it”

“In our business, email marketing won’t work”

“Social media won’t work for us that way”

“Our company won’t approve it”

What to do? Use the client’s ideas. State your suggestions and site examples that worked or didn’t worked. State possible outcomes from his or your ideas.

Client #4:

Ms. Indecisive

Avoid this client. This client “does not know what she wants.” She cannot decide what she “really” wants. Often, this type of client will say something like “I’m not sure …”, “I can’t confirm/assure …”, etc.

What to do? Educate her on some resources, site case studies, or detailed outline on your agreement regarding decision-making delays.

Client #5:

Mr. Perfect

A guru, perfectionist, jack of all trades who believes he knows everything.

What to do? Maybe he has trust issues from previous VAs in the past, so try your best to earn his trust by sharing your work while it is being developed, in the process of doing it. Be prepared for revisions on this type of client. To avoid this, a clear clarification on the agreement regarding “revisions.”

Client #6:

Ms. Entitled

A demanding type of client. She feels like she is always entitled to your time and you feel obliged to give her extra attention.

What to do? A clear open communication is the key. For new projects with Ms. Entitled, renegotiate contract and scope of work. Remind the client about your terms in the agreement.

Client #7:

Ms. Unreasonable

Drop this client. She will never be satisfied in everything you do. This type of client will only be unhappy about your work, scrutinize your invoices and won’t release due payments.

What to do? Stick to your terms in the agreement, clear understanding of the scope of work, abandon cost-plus pricing.

Client #8:

Mr. Bossy

This is the worst boss you’ve ever had. He dictates orders and do things his way without question or doubt. Protect your morale, fire Mr. Bossy at once.

What to do? Don’t be “super” responsive to his emails. You must have a clear expectation of the client as well as what you’re going to do about the process. A detailed scope of work is important as well.

Client #9:

Master Manipulator

He will get your morale down. He develops a culture of mistrust and dread. He believes that fear is the greatest motivator. He plays teams and agencies against each other.

What to do? She is not evil. She just wants to save some money for her company in terms of her complaints on costs and comparisons. Sell your work in terms of quality and ROI. Establish good communication protocols. Set up feedback surveys from the client.

Client #10:

Mr. Blemished

Technically, you have fired this client with one or many reasons above. But, he comes back with a promise not to do the same again in return a new job offer. Avoid Mr. Blemished at all costs.

What to do? Identify the issues and a clear scope of work is needed.

What to Do Before Firing A Client

It’s time to move on, you’ve thought long and hard enough. Finally, you’ve decided that the relationship with client isn’t working out. Awesome! But, a few things to consider before doing so:

Pre-Firing Checklist #1: Ego check

Ask yourself, before you give your client marching orders:

Are you doing it because the client has hurt your ego? In business, ego is a disastrous thing to have. They still have the rights to make final decisions and they pay the bill despite they’re aren’t your boss. Criticism or disagreement that leads to a bruised ego isn’t enough reason to end relationships.

Pre-Firing Checklist #2: At This Time, is it “ethical” to fire the client?

Referring to a small business or startup that’s been under pressure from investors, it might not be ethical despite you might have the legal right to end the relationship. Give the client alternative and delivering on your commitments.

Pre-Firing Checklist #3: Breach of Your Contract

This one is obvious enough - make sure that you’re:

Be fully aware of any penalties for doing so. Ensure that you’re not breaching the contract by firing the client. Be aware of ownership and copyright of “all” produced.

Pre-Firing Checklist #4: Verify That You Don’t Owe Them Any Work

Before the firing, make sure you finish your work. Not doing so, will give the client room and reason to talk about you to others.

Pre-Firing Checklist #5: To Establish a New Baseline, try a relationship reset.

Try doing a complete reset, before you take the drastic step of ending the relationship.

Re-establish processes, timelines and reset goals. To infuse the client the vitality and commitment needed for success, adopt a fresh outlook.

Pre-Firing Checklist #6: Only If It Is Beyond Redemption, end the relationship

Firing the client should always be your last resort. If the relationship is absolutely beyond redemption, pursue. Your aim should always be to end the relationship as and amicably as possible. End on gracious note, when that’s not an option.

How to Fire Your Client

Get them to make the decision. There aren’t many well-documented resources for doing it. It is not an exact science. Thankfully, it’s not something agencies do often. Turn it into good karma that might lead to future referrals by managing it the right way in a level of respect.

It is more personal. It is hard to fire a client whom you know more than you did when you first met. When it comes to ending relationships, there is no one-size-fits all – it’s like terminating an employee!

For every client, you’ll want a different strategy.

For long-term clients, a face to face meeting over a video conference on Skype or Facebook Messenger or call is much appropriate whilst a new client can be let go over a quick email.

• Prepare: For the subject of the meeting, prepare the client. Let them know you want to discuss the future with them.

• Personal: It’s as bad as ‘breaking up’ by text or email! Sending an email is a terrible way to end a relationship, do everything you can to meet the client face to face.

• Private: Keep it private - goes without saying. End the relationship confidentiality and privately. Do not announce it on social media for everyone to see.

• Polite: When you end a relationship, things get tense and tempers flare. Under any circumstances, don't be a jerk. Always be polite and courteous, no matter how bad things get. Don’t get into a she said or he said. Don’t point fingers.

Often, it seems like the only solution by ending the relationship; however, there are many ways to ‘reset’ or ‘rebuild’ an ‘on the rocks’ VA and client relationship. It only goes bad if there were unclear goals, unmet expectations and poor communication. These problems are solvable. Before you attempt more radical solutions (such as ending the relationship), try to do these solutions. Better to fire them than dealing that could be spent on something rewarding, if it something you really have to do.

Meet the client, discuss in realization that the relationship is not working, and THEY suggest it might be best to part ways, when you’re ready to fire the client.


Hi, I'm Paul. If you enjoyed reading this article you might like to read also:

How to Get Your First Client

Pass Client Interview

How to Work with a Client

How to Keep Your Client

All About the Client

Or check Notes from a VA - The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Virtual Assistant Career for more helpful tips.

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