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Tue 30 Sep 2014 | By:

Anti-Stress Action Plan: How To Deal With Stressful Clients

Anti-Stress Action Plan: Stressful ClientsSure you love your clients. But they can be a huge pain in your a**.

Stressful clients can be a huge source of stress. When you’re self-employed, time is your biggest asset and you have to plan it properly. Choosing how you spend this time is your biggest challenge.

How much of your valuable time will you devote to stressful clients?

Stress is a normal part of life, even a normal part of your business life. However, too much stress will hinder your overall chance for success. Try this anti-stress action plan to weed out problem clients, so you can focus on what really matters – growing your business.


Unhappy, Demanding, Annoying & Cheap

Unhappy customers like to complain – loudly. They complain to anyone who will listen. They complain about things that don’t matter, or complain about things they don’t understand. No matter what you do, they will complain about something.

Demanding customers are never satisfied. They want more and they want it now. They want things that are outside the scope of your business. They don’t even ask. They demand…or else!

Annoying customers call all the time. They don’t listen to your advice and then complain when disaster strikes. They don’t pay on time. You avoid answering their calls. They aren’t horrible people, but they drive you crazy.

Cheap customers want more. Regardless of what you do for them, or how much time you spend, it’s always going to be too expensive. Or they want more than what they paid for. We can call these customers cheap bastards.


Try Not to Burn Bridges

I’m a big believer in cutting out clients who are more trouble than they are worth. I know you really want to share your true feelings about them. But it’s always better not to burn bridges. It’s better for your business if you can both walk away feeling somewhat positive.

Believe it or not, there are several ways to do this. Just keep it professional and don’t sink down to their level. Be polite, and don’t let them know how much you despise them.


1. Fire Them (in a nice way)

Give them plenty of notice, and recommend other people that can do your job. Keep it short and sweet. You don’t have to justify why you made this decision, but you can add that it doesn’t fit into your business model at this time. It can go something like this…

Tactful Client Dismissal Letter:

Mr. Jones,

I have decided it would be best if we did not renew your contract for next year. While I appreciate the opportunity to work with you, my business is moving towards a more automated model. I will not be able to handle your account the way you want or expect. Therefore, to ensure accounts success, I will be recommending three people who can replace me.

King Regards,

Liesha Petrovich

2. Be Exceptionally Specific

This is something you should do BEFORE you have problem clients. Every business is different, but think of your specific business and the scope of your job.

Specifics can include:

Put your specifications on your website, client contracts, and verbally explain your process. This way, you are both on the same page and there are no surprises.  If they forget, remind them they have a copy.

If you don’t have a specific policy, write one today. And share with every client you have.

3. Raise Your Prices

One of the easiest ways to get rid of a client is to raise your price to a ridiculous level. Send out a notice to this client about your upcoming rate change. Again, be specific.  You don’t have to send it to every client, just this one.

You do NOT have to justify your rate change. However, you can say business circumstances forced you to increase your rates. Period.

They may find someone else, or they may agree. I would not use this tactic on someone you don’t want as a client. Because they may take you up on it, and then you’re back to square one. But for annoying clients, this may be the way to justify the time you spend on their account.


Too Much Stress Hurts Your Business

People either inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely. – Hans F. Hansen

When you are self-employed, you need customers. It may be incredibly scary to even consider dropping someone as clients. What if you never get another client?

But also ask yourself these questions:

When you understand how time and stress relate to each other, you can see clearly how important it is to eliminate problem clients. Not only for your well-being, but for the overall health of your new business.

About Liesha Petrovich

Liesha is a small business owner of 20 years, host of Startup Savant, the owner of a karate dojo in Maine, and creator of Work Mobly. During free time she's with her family and working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship.