4th April 2013

Oh dear. It’s happened again. Even though I promised myself it wouldn’t happen…can’t happen…never again. But it has. It’s not that I’m in denial — it’s more of a fugue state, really.

Clients. We all love ’em here at Aneela Rose PR. (Honestly.) But, just like a surprise Brussels sprout can end up on your plate, once in a while up pops the one bad apple of a client that causes more trouble than they’re worth. They waste your time and make you feel…well, truly awful. Even when you’re doing a great job for them.

I’m not sure whether we should be awarded a Victoria cross for valour, or sectioned

Not every client is the right client. No siree. So, without further ado, here are some useful pointers to help you decide whether or not to let a client go. Politely, of course.

1. Do you enjoy working with them? Most clients will, of course, be a joy to work with. And in turn I’ll bend over backwards to accommodate their needs. But if you start to dread the ‘hourly update call’ and feel a headache coming on every time a certain client name is mentioned, then it’s time to part ways.

2. Are they cheapskates? We are all experiencing the pinch of the money belt at present, but that’s no excuse to be a penny-pinching Groupon-addicted cheapskate. Only monkeys expect to be paid in  peanuts. Add to this the client who takes their sweet time settling invoices (and how come they can mysteriously go astray?), and I think it’s completely appropriate to give them the heave-ho. Of course, you may have to slap yourself quite hard for taking them on as a client in the first place. But continuing to work with someone who doesn’t see the value in what you’re doing and, at the same time, wants everything for the lowest price possible, will just be frustrating and have you in a straitjacket before you can say “bankrupt”.

3. Are they ‘unreachable’? There’s nothing worse than not being able to contact a client when faced with the blood-curdling screams of a deadline. (OK, I might be over-dramatising things here. Still, deadlines can be pretty hairy, testing even the most Zen-like among us.) Worse is the client who, despite insisting on being told about every single insignificant project update, is harder to contact than a plumber on a bank holiday. Believe me, your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

4. Do they procrastinate? Oh, dear, where to start? Here we have a client who gives you the go-ahead on a commission, but haven’t sent you the documentation you need from them. They have promised to send it over by noon yesterday ago “at the latest”. But it’s now tomorrow and still no files. You’ve chased them, of course. But still nothing, nada, fade to black… And so the cycle goes — on and on and on.

5. Are they rude? I’ve save the worst till last. There is never, ever a need to be rude in business (unless you are Sir Alan Sugar). I would expect to be fired if I were rude to a client. So it’s only fair that I should fire a client who is rude to me. In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to say I’d take some perverse pleasure in doing so.

Of course, there’s an upside to all this: Great clients will rarely refer you to ‘bad’ clients. By separating the wheat from the chaff, you’ll be building a favourable network for future referrals.