Have you ever worked with a client you wished you could cut ties with? Maybe they never showed up for appointments or constantly delayed when you needed paperwork. While it can be incredibly frustrating to work with someone who makes your job more challenging, sometimes the answer is to just cut ties.
Firing a client is never easy, but at times, it’s necessary. If your client is causing you to waste money or creating an unreasonable working situation, it’s better to terminate the relationship and move on. Here are three tips for breaking up with a client and avoiding as much drama as possible.
1. Review Your Contract
Before making any other moves, it’s crucial to verify whether you’re able to end the partnership. Review your contract to see if there are any clauses that bind you to your client. If so, it may be worth it to have a discussion and address your concerns. This could end up solving your issues if your client wasn’t aware of the difficulties they were causing you. If it doesn’t help, wait until the end of your contract and then let your client know you won’t be able to represent them any longer.
Oftentimes, contracts build in basic requirements that allow you to leave a challenging client. For example, there will often be clauses that require clients to be preapproved for a mortgage or live a certain distance from where they’re looking to buy. If they violate these terms, you can let them know that, unfortunately, you’re not able to continue working with them.
2. Increase Your Rate
If you’re not able to use your contract to break ties, consider raising your rate. The challenge here is to raise it to something you’re reasonably certain your client will not be able to afford. When breaking the news, let them know that you’ve received a number of new listings and, since your time is much more valuable now, you’ll need to charge them more. Hopefully, they’ll withdraw and you’ll no longer need to deal with them. In the unlikely scenario that they agree to the increase, you can either tell them it’s not going to work, or you can continue with them and at least be well compensated.
3. Be Honest but Respectful
If you do end up directly addressing the issue, it’s important not to unload all of your frustration onto your client. Keep in mind that they’re still able to review you and share their experience with others. Before talking to them, create a script so you won’t be forced to improvise in the moment. If you generally meet in person, pick a specific time to meet with them and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before the meeting. On the other hand, if you only communicate by text or email, it’s alright to let them know this way, too. Additionally, if you’d like to prepare them with another option, you could discuss your situation with another agent to see if they would be willing to take on your client.
There are a couple of ways to plan this conversation. One way is to take the “It’s not you, it’s me” approach. Tell your client that you’re spread very thin right now, and you’re not able to give them the time and dedication they deserve. Another approach is to let them know that you’re just not a good fit to be working with them. You don’t need to give them a lot of details, but you can tell them that your personalities clash or you’re having a challenging time finding what they want. An example of what you can say is, “Mr. X, unfortunately, in the time we’ve been working together, we haven’t been able to come to an agreement about X. As a result, I don’t think I’m the right agent for you to work with.”
Ultimately, the most important things to keep in mind when breaking up with a client are to stay calm and stand firm. Don’t leave them in the lurch, but also respect your own time and personal goals to know when it’s time to leave.
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Mark Mathis is vice president of Sales for Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.