Okay so this is a touchy subject I need to be careful writing about because I don't want a future client to read this thinking "why would I hire someone who might ditch me?" I won't ditch you. In fact I'm guilty for ignoring my own advice I'm about to give and continue to work with the wrong clients. So without further ado, here is a list of reasons why you should consider terminating a contract with a client.
Some clients have this idea in their head that because they have employed you to do some work, that gives them the right to treat you like dirt or talk down to you. This is not okay. At the end of the day you are helping them or their business grow with your work. They are counting on you. So although they may be paying the bills, they have no right to talk down to you or fight you on any front. You're a human being, you deserve just as much respect as they do. Respect each other and you will be fine, if theres a lack of respect be sure to stand up for yourself.
2. Payment issues.
"This will be great exposure for you" "It will lead to future work" "This is a great opportunity for you to put in a portfolio"
All sentences that we hear time and time again. What they are really saying is "I don't value your work, do it for nothing" At the end of the day you CANNOT feed yourself, pay bills, or live your life on "exposure" and "Opportunity" If a client wont pay, don't do the work. IT'S JUST THAT SIMPLE.
Now, there are a few exceptions to this. If you are just starting out in your trade you may have to do some free work to build your experience and portfolio which you can then use to get paid work. You may also find that doing trade for trade could work for you. Eg - I done work for a client and in return had my future meals paid for. It built my portfolio and now I enjoy tasty grub for free.
Some clients simply do not have the money for your service. If this is the case make sure it is made clear in the initial pre-production meeting. Perhaps you can suggest some kind of payment plan? I usually ask for X amount before and the rest upon completion. Having a reservation fee is also a solid idea because it insures you get paid partially should your client decide to ditch you. Ill talk more about this in a future post.
Point is. If they wont pay. Don't do the work. As uncomfortable as it may be, be sure to talk about money in initial meetings. Some clients may think you are offering a free service otherwise.. trust me.. it's happened to me before.
3. Asking for more than they pay for.
Some clients don't understand the amount of work or length of time it can take to do a piece of work. And you may find them a touch unhappy upon delivery. Stand your ground on this one and break it down showing them what they paid for. Many a time I have had clients consider the amount of work not worth the cost, and ask for re-edits or more shoot days. This is not okay unless they are willing to pay for it. I have had clients request the completed video the day after I shot it. I've had other clients ask me for re-edits and touchups over 10 times without paying. Do not stand for this. Make sure in your pre-production meeting you make it perfectly clear how much you intend to charge for extra work.
4. They don't match your vibe.
This one may sound silly at first but hear me out. A client should match your vibe. If you do work for someone who doesn't like you, or you don't like them then it can lead down a bitter road of arguments and ultimately cause you more bother than its worth. I tend to meet clients before a pre-production meeting for a casual chat over coffee. This way they get to know me and I them. You get a feel for each others personality and can make the decision to work together before any real planning is made. Working with clients you get along with is vital when it comes to communication and future work. If you have a strong relationship with a client you will be the first person they go to or recommend for any future work. Equally you will find yourself happy to go the extra mile for them because you know they are reliable and good to work for. Everybody wins.
5. Future work and benefits.
Be careful with this one. So you meet a client, they seem fine and offer you decent work at a fair rate which you take, you do the work and they come back to you for more. Only, this time they pay slightly less because "were regulars" they ask that little extra of you and think because they know you they can be more demanding and intrusive. This is not okay. If a client offers you more work by all means take it. And sure knock maybe 5-10% off the rate you gave them before, but never be taken advantage of. If they start demanding more of you, or insisting that they should have special treatment. Tell them how it is, or walk away from that partnership
So we have covered WHY you should ditch a client. Now lets talk about HOW to ditch a client.
1. Be cool
Nobody likes fighting, so when you have decided it is time to end your partnership simply give the client a logical/believable reason not to continue. If your own happiness or time is suffering simply explain to the client that other commitments are making it difficult to keep up with the level of work they are asking of you. NOTE: This is more related to having completed work with a client and do not wish to take on more. In this case any excuse will do. You are under no legal obligation to work for them so be friendly and apologise for not being able to do more. perhaps even recommend someone else who can.
If you are half way through a project and have reached the end of your tether simply talk to the client and inform them of the issues you are having. Being honest with them in this case. While remaining friendly and positive as though you are happy to continue working for them, will make them make more of an effort to resolve the issues and not fight with you. No matter what happens just remain calm and cool. The last thing you want is them trying to tarnish your business via social media by saying things like "They shouted at us and freaked out in a completely unprofessional manner"
2. Be reasonable/fair.
If you are half way through a piece of work and the client is becoming unbearable to work with. Consider the options before just calling it quits. Is this work worth doing for the end result? Could you benefit more if you seen it through rather than calling it quits? Is the client actually okay but the project is the problem? Think about all these and more before deciding to stop working for someone. I have had clients in the past that were perfectly fine to work with but the project was a nightmare. I chose to see it through because the future work that came from it was worth doing and more enjoyable.
If the client has paid in full but you are fed up with the work. See it through. Or negotiate a return on some of the payment for however much of the work you have done. If you are friends with the client and on good terms they will be happy to negotiate with you. At the end of the day they gave you work and are expecting a service. Don't be that guy who gets lazy and gives up. See projects through if the client is good and give them what they are paying for. Then decide if future work with them is a possibility.
3. Cut all ties.
So you have finished work for this dreadful client, kept your cool and politely negotiated your way out of any future aspects of the project or other work. Whats to stop them coming back to you in the future asking for more?
I have a sorta scale/system for this one
Awful human of a client - Cut ALL ties. remove social media and block numbers. Make it 100% clear you have no interest in working with them again (I find a good breakup email See Aprils post can help with this)
Decent client, awful work - Don't cut ALL ties, but make it clear you don't want further work by re-directing them to others to take their projects should they ask you for something. This way you give someone else a chance at some work while keeping the client happy.
Awesome work, not so good client - If they come back to you for more. consider weighing up all your options before accepting. Do you want to cut all ties? would ignoring the work cause them to cut ties? take all this into consideration before making a decision.
sorry for the lack of images in this post. I have only ever had to ditch a few clients for various reasons and would find it a touch unprofessional to include images of them or their work haha!
Thats it for today, I hope you found this post a little more informative. If you have any experiences or horror stories of bad clients id love to hear them in the comments below!
Equally if you are struggling with a current client feel free to leave details below and I'll help you sort it out!
Thanks for reading, Stay Loose!