Lara Schmoisman - Coffee N5 Podcast

Episode 70 – Coffee N.5 – How to Fire a Client with Lara Schmoisman

As a business owner, one thing you can not run away from is the agony of having to “break up” with a client. There are many reasons why you may want to discontinue your relationship with a client but how do you know the right time to leave? What are the things you need to know before and after establishing a relationship with a client to make sure that you do not suffer major losses after the break? We discuss this and many more in today’s episode of Coffee N5!

The host of the podcast, Lara Schmoisman is a marketing strategist, coach, international speaker and founder of The Darl. With extensive years of experience in helping businesses succeed in the real world, Lara has been a force to reckon with from the start. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she had her first radio job in her early teens, and started learning the ropes of marketing and advertising. Over the years, she worked her way up in the entertainment industry, digital marketing and advertising proving her grit along the way. 

With skill sets and a bit of grit, she learned how to better understand what people need, how they need it delivered or accomplished, and how to automate systems to provide the best results.

Things You’ll Learn:

  • How to fire your client 
  • What to do before and after you break up with your client 
  • Create boundaries when dealing with a client 
  • Safely protect your business against losses during a break up 

Follow our host Lara Shmoisman on social media:

Instagram: @laraschmoisman

Facebook: @LaraSchmoisman

LinkedIn: @laraschmoisman

Twitter: @LaraSchmoisman

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Lara Schmoisman  0:04  

Hi, everyone, welcome back to Coffee N5. Today we’re starting something new, something that I’m going to call it a solo. I get a lot of questions. I talk to people, I talk to my team, I talk to prospective clients. And also I talk to people in the industry, people that offer services.  Offering services is challenging, offering services means that you have to be dealing with people on many times those services, of course, you need to protect yourself, you need to have contracts, you need to outline everything that you expect from the contract, what you’re going to be providing and what you’re going to be delivering, that should be always very clear. Also, I learned over the years that a few things, first of all, that communication is essential. I’m not against giving things for free. I think it’s okay once in a while that if you feel like the client deserves it, and it’s something that is going to be good, I’m okay with doing it. But what I’m not okay with anymore is that the client doesn’t acknowledge it. So I learned that what is really, really important is to say, Hey, I’m giving you this as a freebie. And it has to be acknowledged you need to know that is out of scope, and you will put a value attached to it. Otherwise, many people will take it for granted. And next time, they will expect that again. Another thing that I’ve learned over time was firing a client. Firing a client is a really difficult decision to make. For me, mostly because I, when I created this company, as everyone knows, I decided that I wanted this company to be unique. I wanted to be in a different relationship, like I have a different relationship with my team. I’m part of the team, I roll my sleeves up, and I work with them. They can always knock on my door. I’m part of an agency. But the same thing with my clients, I want to be that ritual, I want to be that agency that really helps the clients and to listen to your clients. What I experienced before is that agencies will come and say, This is what you need to do. And of course, we can offer strategy, we can offer our knowledge, we can offer all our experience and know that that experience, we sometimes were successful, and sometimes we fail and we learn from that even though many times the failures don’t depend on us. Depending on the time, there are so many factors in this world, there are no guarantees. And I tell stories in my Instagram of failures of other companies and success too of other companies. So if you don’t follow me, just follow me and you can listen. And you can learn about those as well. But what is important is that you listen to your client, you have that relationship, and the client doesn’t feel like you are an agency, you’re telling them what to do. Because mostly when you work with smaller clients, this is their baby and you need to be respectful of their baby, how they created the baby. Their values, there’s so much that they put into that. So you need to be careful because you’re protective of your baby. I know that I am protective of my agency, and I’m super protective of my kids. So firing a client, that’s something that I found extremely hard to do, but also I found extremely necessary to do. For example, I found out that I have a few rules for firing a client a) if there is like a payment if someone doesn’t pay or someone that doesn’t value work, or that client that always want things for free, and they don’t want to pay for you so it doesn’t work out for you anymore. So you just need to write it down, I always suggest in your contracts that you have a cancellation policy. But there are certain things that I do not accept a client being disrespectful. And I did have to let go of some clients, one, for being disrespectful to my team, actually two, now that I think about it. I mean, that’s something that even though you want the money, it’s a client that is paying, it’s something that at this time of my life, I will not accept, I will not accept that. It’s my time, I’m a person. And I don’t care who the client is. Respect is something where we are equals, human beings, even though I’m the one who provides a service. So that’s a no no to me. Another No, no is the client that always always try to change things all the time, if at the end of the day, you end up spending so much time because after something is approved, something, this is something that I’m super strict to have an approval process, once something is approved is no change, then if they want to change, it is another scope of work, they can’t keep changing and changing things because it’s never ending. And this is costing you. So that’s something you need to be aware of. It’s costing you every time you’re redoing things. And there’s another thing that I will let a client go, it’s when I don’t feel that I’m aligned to the client, I don’t feel like I’m a good fit. Maybe anymore, because we grow in a different direction. And to me being honest, and of course, you need to be legal services, always something legal, legit. But sometimes you just don’t align your own values. And I’m not gonna say that they are wrong, or they’re right, I’m just saying I will not align with them. So I don’t feel that I can service them. Because I honestly, it doesn’t, it’s not a good fit, and sooner or later is going to be showing. So how do you do this? I mean, I know that it’s super, super hard to go and decide, okay, I need to let go of a client, I normally is a process, it doesn’t happen from one day to another, it’s just the accumulation of things that happen over time. And that you need to make sure that is the right decision for you, for me it takes me more than a while you need to take a lot from me to make that decision. And, I get watermarks. Warnings are really, really important. Because it’s not fair for that client to say, Oh, I’m not offering you service anymore, because you don’t want to be that kind of business person. You want to be that business person that gives warnings and says, Listen, this is not working for me for this reason. And for this reason, I need you to make this change, or we need to accommodate we need to have this discussion, even though I might have this conversation. And I suggest that you always have conversations face to face. Because it’s not the same as an email, you always put it in writing. And then, so you can follow up on that email is never easy. It’s never easy to make a decision like that. But after you do it,  I can, and after you make that decision, you’re gonna feel good about yourself. Last thing, never leave the client hanging, even if it’s the worst client or you don’t align with them, whatever the reason, is, have a transition, period. in that you’re gonna pass on everything that you created, and just no harm feelings. It’s just not right for that relationship again. And one more thing I want to say before we finish this solo mini episode of Coffee N5, is that there is always room for negotiation. There is always room to try to renegotiate relationships. And if your values are aligned, and there’s something that is not working out, always a conversation is due and say hey, how can we fix it? How can we renegotiate? It’s not about the contract. It’s about the relationship. And that’s my first try. I always will try to do that before firing a client. So I’ll see you next week. Are you going to have coffee with me? Im waiting for you


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