Sudhir in Kyiv, Ukraine with friends (July 2016)

While talking about acquiring new clients at my recent Design Management class at NID, a student asked how to fire a client. An excellent question! It doesn’t happen very often, given that you want to work with as many clients as possible, but not every client is a good one. Some clients affect you negatively, and you have to let them go. Before figuring out how to fire a client, it is essential to clarify which clients to fire. There are many red flags, but I put them in two significant baskets. Very often, a client defaulting on one also defaults on the other.

Respect: Some make unreasonable demands on your time and deliverables (even after signing agreements that set out schedules and deliverables very clearly). They want you to attend to their calls and meetings at any time and just do not respect your weekends and time off. Often they want you to work just to see options; in fact, they demand options (even when not needed), and just don’t consider your advice. They tell you how to run your business and start doing creative direction on the project they hired you for. They throw a lot of negative energy at you. You do not want to do their work.

Payments: Some clients do not stick to a payment schedule. Even when payments are linked to delivery, they withhold amounts to reprimand you or teach you a lesson. They delay the payments for no reason. Some just have disorganized accounts departments. This obviously creates cash flow issues at your studio. Sometimes, this can be very serious and can cause workflow and work quality issues.

This can be a very confusing situation, and it is always better to take someone’s advice before you decide to fire a client. But once you make the decision, it’s essential to stick to it. Then think about HOW you are going to fire the client…that is a very critical action. Let me tell you how to fire a client in the next issue!

Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief

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