We’ve all experienced less-than-stellar clients who have the highest expectations but feel we can do nothing right. They make demand after demand but don’t listen when we try to reinforce our business boundaries. Or they aren’t happy with the results, even when we completed the task based on their exacting demands.
Toxic clients like these suck the joy out of business and that translates into sucking the joy out of life in general because you’re spending your free time stressing about them. Regain your business sanity and your life’s joy by taming these toxic clients or dropping them altogether.
What?! How Can I Drop a Client?
Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the famous quote, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Quite simply, if you drop a toxic client, another client will find their way to you. It may not happen the next day or by magic but you’ll have more time to market yourself and show your audience that you have an immediate opening to fill. If you have worked consistently in providing value to your audience, they will jump at the chance to work with you.
Alternately, you can drop the toxic client and spend that newfound time creating your signature product; or focus on writing emails to your list with valuable offers; or look for media opportunities to share your expertise, maybe on podcasts or as a guest blogger. You deserve respect, not to be run over by rude clients.
Can a Toxic Client be Tamed?
If you prefer to maintain the relationship with a toxic client, you’ll need to grow some thick skin and reinforce your boundaries. And if you don’t have any business boundaries, now is the time to set them!
For example, do you answer emails or text messages at all hours of the day? Stop it! Set business hours and tell your clients when they can expect a response. I recommend responding within 24 hours but if you don’t work weekends, tell your clients that you’ll respond only on business days.
What other crazy demands does this client expect of you? Create a solution you can work with and inform all your clients about these changes. If they are also business owners, they will likely respect and understand your need for boundaries. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to cut them loose.
Make Changes to Onboarding Clients
If you have a history of attracting toxic clients, reflect on WHY these clients find you as well as why YOU accept these types of client. Are they part of your ideal target market? Is your pricing set too low? Are you asking enough questions about THEIR their needs? Are you desperate for money and afraid to say no to anyone?
Reflect on the answers and make solid changes to your business policies and practices. Determine your ideal client; research if your prices are competitive; do you have an onboarding process where you interview these clients, and determine why you can’t say no to prospects. Not only should clients interview YOU to determine if you’re a good fit but you should use this chance to interview THEM. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what their needs are but also follow your gut instinct.
Most importantly, use a contract to spell out exactly what you spoke about, what they expect from you, and include your boundaries so there are no hidden surprises. Even though you want to build a successful business, remember that YOU are in charge of who you work with.