In an ideal world, every client values your service, praises your skills, shows up on time and pays promptly. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and there always will be clients who either test your patience or diplomatic skills. You know those clients. They are the ones you dread because they complain too much, are always late and even worse don’t pay at the end of the session. How many times have you heard, “I must have left my checkbook or credit card at home?” With these clients, the chemistry is just off.

With the economy still fragile, it’s hard to say goodbye to any business. But maybe money isn’t the only reason holding you back. Maybe you don’t know how to say goodbye tactfully and so week after week endure. If that’s the case, there are ways to tactfully say goodbye to a client or disengage from a relationship without burning a bridge.

How and When to say Goodbye

The chronic “cancel last minute” client: Be upfront. It’s completely reasonable to remind the client that you are a small business and the habit of constantly cancelling is creating problems. You can’t fill an appointment at the last minute which means a loss of income. The alternative is to ask the client to prepay for appointments.

The “more for less” client: Do you have a client who is constantly asking you to do more during the session but expects to pay less? Once or twice is reasonable, but when it becomes the ‘modus operandi,’ time to say goodbye. This type of client is not profitable for your business. Explain to your client that your rates are firm for the service provided and there will be no more extras without additional fees. If the client doesn’t agree or continues to try to press for more service, don’t accept a future booking and explain why.

The never satisfied client: Complainers aren’t only bad for your morale; they can be bad for your reputation. Nicely explain to the client that you offer many years of experience and expertise. If the client doesn’t understand or continues to find fault, best to cut ties. You might even suggest another provider who you believe can better satisfy what the client wants.

The “doesn’t pay on time” client: You’ve probably heard the expression, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” That pretty much sums up the situation with clients who can’t pay at the end of the session for whatever reason. With this type of client, you need to say goodbye for the very clear reason that as a small business person you can’t afford to wait for payment.

Saying goodbye isn’t going to be easy but it is going to make your life better and your business run more smoothly. Just be honest, upfront and firm. I would like to hear how you have also managed these types of clients. Feel free to share!