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When You Need to Fire a Client: Knowing When it’s Time to Cut Ties

As wedding pros in an industry hyper-focused on service, letting clients go isn’t exactly something we think about often. We answer texts at all hours of the day (and night), put up with personality conflicts that just aren’t flying, and put-out last-minute emergency fires without so much as blinking an eye. We do all of this to keep our clients happy and, in turn, our businesses thriving. But sometimes, just as important as saying yes is being able to say no when it matters most. Firing a client when things just aren’t working out is one of the most empowering, sanity-saving moves a wedding pro can make. Today, then, we’re breaking down some unfortunate situations where your best bet is show your client that big, beautiful door. (Don’t you feel lighter already?)

Let’s start with this: You absolutely CAN fire a client.

Before we break down the times when it’s necessary to fire a client, let’s start with this simple reassurance: you absolutely CAN fire a client. We often come across wedding pros who don’t realize that letting a client go is totally an option—this makes sense when you consider the nature of our service-focused industry. We focus so much on doing everything we can for our clients—even when they’re difficult to work with, don’t pay on time, and are overall unappreciative—that we often don’t realize walking away from that strained relationship is absolutely a viable option. So, before we dig in, just know that, though the terms of the termination will vary depending on your contract, you absolutely have the right to end your work for a client.

When you’re just not jiving…

Personality conflicts are one of the most common reasons for needing to let a client go. No matter the delicious, dish-worthy details of your conflict (we’ll save that for a great gossip sesh later on), if you find you’re constantly at odds with your client and are starting to lose some sleep (and sanity) over it, it’s probably time to cut ties. If you’re not on the same page and aren’t communicating well or in a polite manner with each other, chances are neither of you want to see the relationship continue…so saying so-long shouldn’t break either of your hearts.

When you’re at a standstill…

If progress just isn’t being made (aka your client is ghosting you and your requests), you may want to consider firing the client. Whether it’s budgeting information, a response to your email, or an answer to your phone calls, if clients continually go radio-silent when you request things, their lack of ability to cooperate will ultimately affect your ability to deliver on their Big Day—which can ultimately lead to disastrous event and a bad online review. If you find you’re getting more and more (and more) behind on a client’s timeline due to their inability or unwillingness to respond or to engage in the process, it might be time to show that client the door.

When they’re contract-creeping on you…

When clients drastically increase their wedding budget without compensating you for the inevitable additional work, this is what we call scope-creep or contract-creep. This means they’re trying to get far more than they’ve actually paid for—i.e., they initially hired you for a $50k wedding (which you based your pricing off of) but have since increased the budget to a $100k wedding (which means you have to complete tons of additional work that your original cost didn’t take into account). No matter the specific form of scope-creep, if you feel your client is getting significantly out of contract and is trying to avoid properly compensating you in the process, chances are they don’t value or deserve your time—so don’t hesitate to cut ties.

When it’s all you think about…

Lastly, sometimes there’s just a slew of reasons for letting a client go. Maybe they continually give you attitude or bother you late at night without remorse. Maybe they’ve changed their design plans on you ten times or regularly missed your meetings without so much as a warning. No matter the issues at hand, if you find yourself regularly day-dreaming about nixing a certain client, you should probably go ahead and allow yourself to do so. Staying on board and getting paid always seems like the better option at first (I’ll just put up with it, you tell yourself. I need the paycheck!)—but can you really put a price on your overall sanity? If you find you’re constantly nervous, anxious, or even feel sick when a certain client’s wedding comes up—or, worse, if the issues in your relationship with that client are causing you to underperform on other clients’ weddings—foregoing that extra dough in the name of saving yourself and your business in the long run may ultimately be the best decision.

About the Author

Tayler Cusick Hollman
Tayler Cusick Hollman

Tayler is a contributing editor at Aisle Planner. She is obsessed with color and pattern, notoriously cooks everything from scratch, and can sometimes be seen cruising around on a skateboard.

4 thoughts on “When You Need to Fire a Client: Knowing When it’s Time to Cut Ties”

  1. Anon says:

    Something I’ve thought of is when is it too late to terminate the relationship? No matter how difficult the client, I would feel terrible leaving them (and also their vendors) in the lurch just a few months out from the big day.

    1. Tayler Cusick Hollman Tayler Cusick Hollman says:

      That is a question I don’t think has an answer. Definitely agree that it would be hard to leave anyone hanging close to their wedding day.

  2. Linda says:

    Except they will give you a bad review.

    1. Tayler Cusick Hollman Tayler Cusick Hollman says:

      Linda, that is always a possible outcome but that is why even when working relationships end, it is important to approach everything with the same level of client experience and professionalism!

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