Thank You, Next Client: Six Signs Of An Imbalanced Business Relationship by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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A good working relationship between a business and a client is based on mutual advantage. The relationship may not always be entirely equal, but to endure, each side has to receive a fair benefit that makes it worth their time.

However, the difference between an imbalanced business relationship and client-company growing pains isn’t always clear. So, what are the signs to look for that indicate an unfairly balanced working relationship? To help you navigate this tricky situation, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council to weigh in on how company leadership can recognize that it’s time to end the relationship with a client for good. Here’s what they had to say.

Members of Young Entrepreneur Council weigh in on the signs that show it’s time for a business to end a client relationship for good.

All photos courtesy of YEC members.

1. The Client Won’t Respect Boundaries

At the start of a client relationship, you’re both in the honeymoon phase and excited about all of the possibilities. It’s only once the real work begins that you might realize the client might not be a good fit for the service or product, or that they don’t value what’s being provided. One way to recognize when things have gotten out of balance is when a client crosses boundaries—whether it’s communicating rudely, expecting unreasonable turnaround times or ignoring previously agreed-upon items like scope. This often happens when a client believes they can get more for their money or if they sense that you as the business owner will not enforce your own boundaries. Restate your boundaries and, if no improvements occur, it’s time to move on. – Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly

2. They Don’t Bring Joy

I have found that toxic clients spread like a cancer throughout your entire organization. The symptoms are usually easy to spot. No one on the team wants to answer their calls. Even if they get more responsibility, no one wants to work on their projects. The mood shifts when new requests come in, and there can sometimes be audible groans when their name is even mentioned. While not every client will be perfect all the time, if you find more often than not that these symptoms keep happening over and over again, it’s time to ever-so-politely say, “It’s not you, it’s me” (but really it’s you) so they can find a situation that is a better fit, with people who are excited to work on their company projects. – Kim Kaupe, The Superfan Company

3. Unpaid Invoices

Clients who take advantage and don’t pay their bills on time—it’s important that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship and you don’t put up with clients who don’t respect your services. If they aren’t paying your invoices on time, you need to figure out a way to change that behavior. You are not their bank, and if they don’t change their ways, you may need to part with them. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, LLC

4. An ‘I’m The Client, You Need To Please Me’ Attitude

One of our core values is “partnership,” which means we’re not only partners with each other internally (as in teammates), but also that our clients should work with us as partners. Partners don’t treat each other with a misuse of power or respect. We recently fired a client because the attitude from our point of contact was one of, “You should do everything and anything I ask for.” That’s not a real partner, and we told the client so. As one would expect, this client was shocked and dismayed at such an assertion from “a vendor,” but we’re happily in a position where we get to pick our clients and fire ones that don’t align to our values. – Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

5. Unrealistic Expectations

As a marketing agency owner, I have had my fair share of clients who had unrealistic expectations. When this happens, I walk them through our process and explain how their expectations will be met over time. Nothing happens overnight. If the client still doesn’t accept this, then it’s time for them to find another partner who can help them. I’m very transparent at the outset to help manage their expectations. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Fem Founder

6. They Keep You In The Dark

A good client relationship should be a win-win for both parties. A client should not only care about what they’re getting and how it benefits them, but should also care about how you benefit from the relationship as well. So you should always be kept in the loop regarding important plans and information. For instance, if your client comes up with a new strategy and you’re the last to hear about it, that’s a problem. The client is only thinking about how this new strategy benefits them. A good client will always share their plans and ideas and consult with you about them well before they make a decision. If they consistently keep you in the dark, then that’s a sign it might be time to end the relationship. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

April 25, 2019 at 08:37AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs