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5 signs that you may need to fire a client

I’ve been in business for about 20 years and I have worked with my fair share of customers. Over the years, I’ve worked with folks from various types of backgrounds, a variety of cultures, and a variety of business industries and sizes of companies.

I truly enjoy the variety of people I get to meet. My favorite part of business is the people - getting to know them and helping them solve their problems.

There are some GREAT customers out there that are an absolute dream to work with. I wish my whole client list was full of those people!

But on the flip side, there are some really, really BAD customers out there too. Whoever invented the saying “the customer is always right”.... is dead wrong. No, they’re not.

by giving customers such entitlement to let them think that they’re always right no matter what and regardless of the situation, sets us all up for some punishing interactions.

There are times when, candidly, doing business with someone is just NOT WORTH IT. And it’s at times like that, I think, “Is it reasonable to fire this client?” Yup, I said firing a client.

And there are times when firing a client is a totally acceptable option. Now, I will put a caviat around that, though. Before we move forward and deem a customer “bad” and attempt to fire them, we need to ensure that we are doing everything reasonable on our part to set proper expectations and boundaries and to communicate in a way that encourages collaboration and mutual respect.

Just because we may have differing opinions, does not mean I’m dealing with a bad customer. If a customer is holding me to a commitment I don’t necessarily want to keep, that’s not a bad customer. And if we fail to communicate something appropriately, that is not the sign of a bad customer.

here are 5 signs you might need to let your client go

They don’t respect your time.

We’re all busy folks, with lots of life demands. We may be building our business, but it’s not everything we we are and all that we do. So, when we come across a customer that has outrageous turnaround times -(for me, that’s sub 8 hours unless I agreed to it)or they are constantly badgering with various demands, I’m quick to set clear boundaries around that.

I actually provide my customers with a Customer Guarantee at the beginning of our relationship. The template is part of the Business Toolbox and explains a lot of those boundaries/mutual expectations to limit any confusing communication. If those boundaries are continually pushed or not respected, it’s time to part ways.

They don’t respect the scope of the project.

A “scope” is an outline of the various aspects of a project. For voiceover folks, those aspects are things like: recording standards, turnaround times, payment info, etc.

If you and the customer have agreed on project terms, yet the customer keeps asking for additional pick-ups, re-records, or changes in copy, they should pay for those additional services as their requests are outside the original agreed-upon scope of the project. And we should proactively communicate the additional fees - see that Customer Guarantee - also available in the business toolbox.

If they are refusing to pay for additions to the project scope (which they were not surprised by because we told them about our change policy in advance. right??) that’s the sign of a bad customer. If requests are outside of the agreed upon terms, then the terms change and so does the quote for the project.

They are aggressive... to verbally abusive.

To this one, I say oh, HELL NO. Aggression toward the collaborative party of any kind, especially on the side of abusive to the one providing services, is a hard stop. NO ONE should have to endure demeaning comments or any kind of name-calling. The. End.

Losing money on the client.

Not every gig will be profitable - but that’s not always a deal breaker. Sometimes we take lower paying,(or no paying, jobs to help a not-for-profit or to be in a passion project or something. BUT, if we come across situations where we are completing gigs and losing money where we shouldn’t be, we need to consider the reason why.

Maybe the customer is always late paying their invoices or maybe they just demand more time than what we're able to provide within the scope of the project. Or my favorite… they offer an opportunity for “exposure”.

A couple years ago, I had a person who worked at a multi-billion dollar company tell me they couldn’t afford a voiceover ?!?!?! but if I wanted exposure, they’d consider me - uhhhhh....right. I think my shoes caught fire for how fast I ran away from that. Exposure doesn’t pay my bills. So basically, if they are hurting the business financially... bye.

You just don't like them.

This one is really an individual call. Not all relationships are a good fit - and that’s ok. There may be nothing wrong with us or them, but the fit is bad. If you absolutely DREAD working with someone (for whatever reason), then don't. Find another customer to fill the gap.

To fire a customer is an extreme case and is fairly rare. it's important to know the difference between a tough customer and a straight up BAD customer.

We need to do everything we can reasonably do before severing a relationship in such a manner. Voiceover is a pretty small industry and to potentially burn a bridge by firing a customer is making a pretty bold statement. But, that being said, we have to protect our business, and if a customer isn’t worth the hassle, it’s ok to part ways.

Recruiting great customers only,


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