How to Fire a Problem Client

How to Fire a Problem Client

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Social media managers; do you need to fire a problem client? 

Not sure but have been thinking or dreaming about it? Read on!

You might be ready to fire that client if you…

  • get up to go to work, only to dread it!
  • are nervous about opening your email because you are expecting bad news!
  • avoid Facebook Messenger, Slack, Basecamp or any other communication vehicle for fear of encountering this one client?

If that sounds like you on a daily basis, it is time to fire that problem client, once and for all!

We not only give you permission to do it, today, but we are also going to help you along!

In this article, we will first define a problem client, next offer tips to try to fix the relationship before giving you advice on how to fire that problem client and move on.

We found a quote from a member in our Social Media Managers Facebook Group that sums up perfectly what you need to do:

If you wake up more than two days in a row thinking about somebody, and you aren't sleeping with them – FIRE them. Refund or whatever you have to do, but get rid of them. 

~ Patricia Reszetylo

Let’s do this! 

What Makes a Client a Problem Client?

Here are some signs you may have a problem client on your hands.


  • feel anxious each time you talk to the client
  • avoid phone calls with this client
  • get upset each time you are face to face with this client
  • hear yourself saying ‘dealing with clients’ vs ‘serving clients’
  • see red flags everywhere

The client

  • criticizes your strategy
  • questions your expertise
  • breaks your contract’s terms and conditions
  • asks you to implement unethical or illegal strategies
  • finds fault with everything you do

Make no mistake, a problem client is quite different from a challenging client

While a challenging client might keep you on your toes, working with a challenging client usually brings you a sense of accomplishment, personal growth, and satisfaction when the job gets done, while working with a problem client just drains you completely.

Why You Would Want to Fire a Problem Client

It may be obvious, but let’s look at why you may want to fire a problem client. 

First, firing a problem client will allow you to focus on new and better-suited clients who won’t drain your energy and take up all of your time.

Next, firing a problem client will offer you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and put those mistakes behind you,

Last but not least, most often problem clients are not the ones that pay the most! So firing that problem client could mean you are opening up your social media management business for a new client who is willing and able to pay you your worth

Doesn’t that sound like something you want to do right now?!

Remember this: 

The time we waste on bad, ill-fitting clients could be time spent with two good ones! That time would be more enjoyable and fulfilling, and your ideal client should make you feel appreciated for being part of their marketing team.

What To Do Before You Fire a Client

Before firing a problem client, we suggest one last-ditch effort to see if this client relationship can be saved.

This is especially true if you’ve sort of decided to fire a client but the client is completely unaware of your unhappiness in this relationship. If this may be the case, you owe it to the business owner to try to communicate clearly one more time. 

The client deserves an opportunity to know your issues and to try to do better. You will need to set expectations and stick with them. How can you do this?

We suggest asking for a meeting with the business owner to discuss your working relationship. 

In this meeting, you need to be clear about any issues you may have had in the past, but really focus on, and offer solutions for a continued relationship! 

Talk about 

If the client is able to listen to your concerns without judgment, values your long-term relationship and still thinks you are a good fit for their marketing needs after listening to you, your relationship could be saved.

If, however, the client goes on the defense and starts getting upset, threatens to fire you on the spot or beg you ‘don’t leave’ and ‘what am I going to do without you?’ it is probably best this relationship ends sooner than later. 

The bottom line is this. Bad clients are bad clients only for those who aren’t a good fit.

Your bad client is someone’s ideal client. 

You Are Now Ready Fire a Problem Client

With that, you are now ready to fire that client who’s been a thorn in your side!

But wait!

There is a right way to fire a client and some really bad ways to fire clients. 

Firing this problem client should be the move that ends all issues, so your message needs to be 

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Brief

for it to be effective.

become a social media manager

Here are the steps to take to fire a problem client.

The Best Way To Dissolve a Business Relationship

First and foremost, we urge you to start with the contract you both signed. Refer back to your contract to find out if the client has possibly broken the terms of your contract and how you should end this relationship. 

NOTE: Social media manager; if you are reading this and do not have a termination clause in your contract, make sure to add it to the next contract you execute.

Next, use the language in your contract to end the relationship and allow for termination.
“Two weeks notice”

  • “Two weeks notice”
  • “30 days notice to not renew”
  • “Not renewing”
  • “Not complying”

Then be as matter-of-fact, factual and to-the-point you can be. 

You can choose to end this relationship in-person, which would only be feasible if you are local, and perhaps advisable if you run in the same social or networking circles, locally. 

However, you might want to have this in writing for future reference, so we suggest sending an email to the client. 

Here is a great example:

“When we originally spoke about your project I was under the impression it would entail X. However, after working with you, the project actually entails Y. It's far more complex, there's a lot of extra management involved, your team is making adjustments that impact the strategy (and risk outcomes/goals), etc. While the work is something I can do, I'm not interested in doing it and would have declined the project had I known what would have been involved. That said, I think it's best we part ways, and I'm willing to help make my exit as easy as possible. Here's what I'm willing to do [list concessions such as refund money, help transition to someone else, provide a two week notice, etc.] If this is acceptable to you, I'll work up a quick addendum for you to sign and return to me, and then I’ll work on tying up the loose ends.”

~ Kristine Evenson, CMO of CaptureHits Marketing Group



How To Best Fire a Problem Client and Move On

“Eat that frog!” aka do the thing that frightens you the most, first!

Do it early in the morning when you are bright, refreshed and ready.

Fire off that email to that nightmare client, then take a breath and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Moving on is as simple as signing wit your ideal client as soon as the next day!

You got this. 

NOTE: Whatever you do and say, don't hold accounts hostage in case of non-payment. If you are ready to let go of a client because of billing issues, read this first.

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