Why Do We Hang Onto Troublesome Clients

Angry guy holding cell sitting on a sofa

Listen, life is short.  As a business owner, your most valuable commodity is time.  So why do we get bogged down with a minority of troublesome clients who dominate our workdays and mind space?  It’s a day of awakening when you come to the realization that you simply can’t please everyone. And anyone who’s been in business for any length of time can name, without hesitating, clients, they either shouldn’t have worked with or held on to for far too long.  

Now understand there’s a big difference between demanding clients and debilitating clients. What I mean by this is that when you’re in a professional services business and have a client who is engaged, intense, and driven, and although can be demanding at times, that’s not the same thing as a client who is abusive and never satisfied. You know those clients I’m referring to. 

So as a quick guide, here are some categories that may force you to make very tough decisions. 

1 – They Can be Unreasonable  

Sometimes, your client’s needs can exceed what they’re actually paying you for.  They may be consistently unhappy, don’t understand the actual business climate you’re dealing with, or expect miracles on a daily basis.   

2 –  You Feel Nickle and Dimed 

Anytime you end the day with a client and say to yourself, “I no longer care about how much they’re paying me; I just don’t think it’s worth it anymore,” it might be time to have a challenging conversation. There are times these clients will expect you to be on call 24/7 and at the same time, they debate your invoices or feel they’re not getting value from what they’re paying you.  

3 – Too Much Disrespect

If you’re working with a client who is consistently questioning your advice or work and verbally abusing you and your team, it’s time to move on.   

4 – They Don’t Pay on Time, or They Just Stop Paying Altogether

I have found that clients who owe you money never stop asking you to do work for them, no matter how far behind they are. If the check either isn’t clearing or hasn’t arrived, you will have to make the call and cut your losses. 

The bottom line is if you’re expecting a ticker-tape parade from your client for doing your job, it’s not going to happen.  Sometimes you’re lucky even to get a thank you. Your satisfaction needs to come from knowing that you’re a professional and you are doing all you can.  But – if you’ve done everything you can and nothing is changing – it’s probably time to say goodbye.  So how do you tactfully tell a troublesome client that you’re done and still keep your integrity and ethics intact? Just say simply – “I’m sorry, but we’re just not a good fit for each other and I wish you success in the future.”  It’s also helpful if you get money owed by the client before you let them go.