How to Part Ways with a Problem Client

If you’re lucky, you’ll spend a career working with dream clients. But if you’re like the vast (and I mean vast) majority of accountants, you will likely find yourself, at one point or another, parting ways with a client or two who is simply not worth your time or effort anymore.

No, it’s no always an easy decision to make, but yes, it may need to be done. However, parting ways with a client must be done with finesse, as no one wants to be one the wrong end of an infuriated client. Here’s what to consider:

Why You May Want to Make an Exit

There are a number of reasons why it simply may not make sense any longer to deal with a particular client:

  • The client is sucking the life out of you. If you are spending way too much time handling a client that simply does not add to your bottom line, you must part ways simply to generate more revenue and see a better return on your investment.
  • The client is being less than forthright. If you think that your client is holding back information or not being honest, you owe it to yourself to fire the client, as the last thing you would want to do is jeopardize your legal and ethical obligations. You simply cannot afford to damage your reputation over one sneaky client.
  • The client does not respect your advice. Not every client is going to agree with you 100 percent of the time, but if you are dealing with a client that does not see any value in your advice, it may be time to part ways.

How to Say Good-Bye

Okay, so you’ve determined that a divorce from your client is in order. Now what? It simply all boils down to acting in a professional manner and taking the time to have a brutally honest conversation with the client. You must come prepared and back your statements with solid examples, and you must remain reasonable and level-headed, even the client is anything but. But most of all, assure your client that your business relationship, whether or not it is coming to a close, will always remain a completely private matter.