How to fire a client

Client relationships are complicated. They’re often part of a larger relationship, providing a “bridge” to other potential clients and to your industry. Sometimes they’re valuable for more than just money – connections, brand name recognition and portfolio-worthy work are all important, especially for small businesses.

If you’re considering how to fire a client, you’ve probably reached the end of your rope and see no other way out. You’re not necessarily wrong, but you do need to pause and consider your options.

As Tony explains it, “If you’re willing to do business with just anybody, you’re going to have a terrible business.” Firing a client can sometimes be part of recognizing the value of your business. You don’t need people who want to tear you down in your space.

Don’t run your business like a salesperson. You need to run your business like you’re the owner of something truly valuable – because you are.

When is firing a client the right thing to do?

Firing a customer/client is always a last resort. But if you’ve had honest conversations about your roadblocks and see no improvement, it could be time to consider how to fire the client – especially in these four situations.

1. They don’t listen to you

Your client hired you because you are the expert – or so you would think. But every businessperson has run into the “know-it-all” client. They don’t listen to your recommendations. They micromanage your projects. They directly contradict you on things you’re absolutely sure about. Sometimes it seems they purposely block you at every turn. It’s unprofessional at best and disrespectful at worst. And it’s always inefficient, costing you more money than you might realize. Firing a client or customer is almost always the right decision in this case.

2. There’s no communication

Does your client skip out on weekly meetings, take days to respond to emails and refuse to answer your calls? Do they disappear for days or weeks at a time, only to show up and demand something they never actually approved? Worse yet, maybe your customer doesn’t keep you updated on their own internal news, so you’re unexpectedly hit with changes in direction or company hierarchy. Poor communication is a sign that it’s time to start thinking about how to fire a customer.

3. They take up too much time

On the other hand, many clients communicate too much. They make demands that aren’t in their contract, expect immediate responses and don’t respect your deadlines. Time is money, and business is about making money.

Wondering how to fire a client? In this case, immediately! You may be tempted by a big, influential brand name that looks great on your website or by a personal connection that could come in handy down the line – but you must weigh these things against the time (and therefore money) you are losing by dealing with this client or customer every day.

4. You dread working with them

At the end of the day, you’re in charge of your own business. Your reason for firing a customer can be that you just don’t like working with them. Maybe they don’t respect your account managers or salespeople, are unpredictable on calls or in meetings or their personality just rubs you the wrong way. You avoid meetings whenever you can. If you or your employees are unhappy just thinking about your next client call, trust your gut.

Learn from Tony’s example on the empowering principle of when to fire or let go of the people holding you back and how to replace them with those who truly desire to be involved.

How to fire a client or customer

You may be set on firing a customer, but you don’t have to burn the bridge. These tips will help you do so professionally and courteously, leaving your relationship intact.

Fulfill your contract

It may not be the right time to fire a client if you’re in the middle of a big project or would be in breach of your contract. Breaking a contract early may require you to take less pay or to return a deposit from the client, among other consequences. It’s always best to fulfill your contract and finish your work before deciding how to fire a client.

Frame it professionally

It can be tempting to envision scenes where you tell off your customer once and for all. But the most vital piece of advice for how to fire a customer is not to let emotions get in the way. Always be professional – even if your client is not. Allow them the courtesy of meeting in person or video chat. Don’t play the blame game or get angry. And don’t make it personal. Like the breakup of a personal relationship, frame your reasoning as “It’s not you, it’s me”: Don’t lie, but don’t spill all the nasty details.

Provide a plan

No matter how big or small your industry is, people talk – and in any situation where you’re firing a client, you want to make sure you look polite and competent. Always suggest a replacement company that your ex-client can work with. It’s a professional courtesy that not only makes you look good, but could help out another business that’s a better fit. That’s good karma all around.

By protecting the value of your business or service, the perception and worth of your brand will skyrocket and you will end up delivering more to those who matter most.

Or, to quote Vince Lombardi, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”

a purple paper boat is leading a row of white paper boats .

Elevate Your Impact: 10 Leadership Qualities Of Remarkable Leaders

Extraordinary leaders all have a mission to serve. Whether it’s serving others or serving a greater good, they know how to influence themselves and others to get behind a big idea that changes the world. While it’s true that influence is the core of leadership, truly remarkable leaders are ones who possess specific leadership qualities that they have […]


Scale your business: 11 ways to build lasting growth

Entrepreneurs excel at creating solutions to big problems, but they all seem to struggle with scaling a business. These big thinkers often use the concepts of scaling a business and growing a business interchangeably, but in reality, they’re two completely distinct concepts. For example, consider a successful startup or new small business: Without a clear […]


7 business triggers that could make or break your business

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from owning more than a dozen companies, it’s this: leaders anticipate change while the losers are left reacting to it. And if we’ve learned anything from the past couple of years, change is the ONLY constant in life and business. Technology is like a personal trainer pressing the UP […]


Proven ways to turn your profit goals into reality

We often hear success stories about new businesses immediately hitting the profit jackpot. In reality, though, most companies – if they’re able even to stay open – don’t make a profit for at least several years. If you’re a new business owner, you’ve hopefully planned for this delay in income but remain eager to start […]


Achieve more with SMART goals

The value of setting goals in life cannot be overstated. In the words of Tony Robbins, “Progress equals happiness.” We need to feel like we’re working toward a goal to ultimately feel fulfilled and joyful in life. But are all goals created equal? Not necessarily. The outcomes you want ultimately point to the quality of […]


Keys to organic growth in business

Do you want to be a business owner, not just an operator? Do you want to use your business to live the life of your dreams? Are you an entrepreneur planning your exit strategy so you can build another business? To achieve any of these goals, you’ll need to do one thing: Grow your business. […]

  • Change your story

    Master Tony’s proven strategies to create endless momentum and change the trajectory of your life.

    View upcoming events
  • Become the best version of yourself

    Connect with like-minded individuals and start living the life of your dreams.

    View all programs