When you’re working in any kind of industry that deals with clients, you are bound to run into a difficult one. From creative differences, to communication problems, there is no limit to the ways clients can make your life tough.
So, maybe you’ve asked yourself: when do you break up with a client because they are just being a jerk?
That can be a tricky thing to determine when you’re not in the middle of it. But coming from a strong client services background with my agency VaynerMedia, I have a few thoughts to share on the subject.
Me personally? I hold on for dear life. I deal with the negativity head on, and if a client fires me, I deserved it.
On the other hand, there are times when firing a client could help your business. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this one, but I can at least tell you how to determine what to do. It’s all about self-awareness.
You can handle the tough patches; don’t let them slow you down or hinder your growth. In fact, rise to the challenge and let it empower you even further. But a lot of people can’t handle conflict in a constructive way. It brings them down. If someone is down on themselves because they are constantly dealing with a difficult client, I will switch up my teams. I move someone who is better equipped to dealing with that sort of personality to that team. This says nothing about the person who was finding it difficult; it’s just learning to use different strengths. Additionally, maybe that person was thinking of leaving your company due to the experience. Ask if you value the client more than the team. What is the cost here?
This is what it comes down to: establish for yourself what your threshold is. If a client is holding you back, or holding someone on your team back, affecting moods drastically, evaluate and encourage your teams to do the same. Look for these things in employees so you are able to take action and switch account teams before it comes to a breaking point. Self awareness goes a long way here.
Lastly, here are three points you might find helpful in deciding whether to keep a client or not:
1. There is value in retention. Maybe you’re starting out and finding it difficult to deal, but until you build the momentum of getting more and more clients, you can’t afford to be too picky. And future clients will be impressed and happy to see that you can maintain and keep stable relationships.
2. Moods happen. Sometimes there are tough weeks, even months. Do you just get divorced after your first official fight in a marriage? No. You work it out. The same applies to a client relationship. There will be rough patches, moments of disagreement, but you talk it out. You discuss and come to a conclusion. Ebb and flow.
3. Business is business. One of the reasons people might recommend getting rid of clients is because they don’t have the stomach for adversity. Remember that this is the industry, this is the work. Don’t let it get too far; remember everything we talked about above. But in the end, the work you do is about making sure the client gets what they want. If that pisses you off, maybe this isn’t the world for you.