For pet professionals, lovely pets and affable clients generally mean a happy life, right? So what happens when you encounter a difficult client?
In general, breaking up is hard to do. However, with a few tips up your sleeve, letting go of difficult clients can be easy.
Let’s be honest, managing clients is challenging. There will always be those people who have overly high or downright unrealistic expectations. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never please these sorts of people.
Indeed, difficult clients eventually get you down. They sap your energy and enthusiasm, which can cause issues in other parts of your life or business.
Eventually, the time comes that you simply have to cut loose your difficult clients. It’s the only way to survive and continue doing what you’re doing.
Breaking up with difficult clients: is it the right thing to do?
Absolutely. Getting rid of difficult clients is always worth it in the long run. Certainly, you might spend hours on end wondering if letting them go is the right thing to do and asking yourself how you will do it. Yet, once you get rid of them you won’t think twice about it.
Offloading challenging clients will leave you with a clearer mind and more time — as you won’t be constantly thinking about them.
Tricky clients are stressful and we all know stress is bad for our health and wellbeing. What’s more, if your difficult clients are forcing you to spend time and money on trying to manage your stress levels, they’re actually costing your money.
Without a doubt, we can tend to fall into the trap of thinking our difficult clients will get easier as time goes on. The problem is, they don’t. If anything, dealing with annoying clients gets harder and weighs you down more as time passes.
It’s important to know when enough is enough—not only for your own health but for the sake of your business too.
5 tips to break free from difficult clients
Be prepared. Breaking up with challenging clients is not for the faint of heart! There will be feelings of rejection, anger and hurt on the part of your client. No doubt, you’ll likely be feeling sad, guilty, stressed or a combination of all three.
However, with a bit of preparation and forethought, you can end the relationship without too much drama. Here’s how.
1. Phone or face-to-face
If you’re considering texting or emailing your client to tell them you want to break up, don’t! It’s far better to break up face-to-face or over the phone, as it’s simply more personable and respectful. Even if you feel that you don’t owe them any respect, you owe it to yourself, as a professional.
2. The sandwich approach
This approach doesn’t exactly sugarcoat the breakup but it sandwiches the negative in between two positives. For example, you might say something along the lines of…
“Mrs Adams, Fido is such an amazing dog. He’s so friendly and a pleasure to walk every day (positive).
“However, I need to cut back on my workload for the time being so I’m giving notice that you’ll need to find a new dog walker (negative).
“I have really appreciated spending so much time with Fido and will miss him terribly (positive).”
3. Keep your cool and forget the blame
There’s no denying difficult clients can really drag you down. You may have endured poor behaviour from them for quite some time, but now’s the time to let that go.
Playing the blame game with them will only shed a bad light on you and give them ammunition to spread negative rumours about you.
Instead, keep your cool. Use a light and breezy tone to talk to them (no matter how hard this is).
4. Short and sweet
Guilt can sometimes cause us to ramble. You needn’t feel guilty; at the end of the day, you’re doing what’s best for you and your business. In the long run, it’s probably best for your client too.
Keep your conversation brief but clear. Don’t lie or get caught up giving a lengthy explanation of why you can no longer walk or pet sit Fido.
5. Be professional
Treat your clients as you would expect to be treated. If you have been paid upfront and owe your client money, advise what refund you’ll be giving.
If possible, give them a good period of notice – at least enough time to find another pet sitter or dog walker. You might even suggest another pet professional they can contact (depending on how much of a difficult client they’ve been!).
Be courteous when you end the call. For example, you might wish them luck in finding someone suitable and thank them for their business up until now.
If you have a difficult client you want to break up with, try weighing up the pros and cons of letting them go. Whatever decision you make – good luck!
How have you broken up with a difficult client? Tell us your stories in the comments below.
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