How to politely get rid of bad clients

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing & PR' started by antropy, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,417 585
    Recently we had a client that we used to do a fair bit of work with but now just seems to be wasting our time. A couple of times they have asked for an estimate but then either doesn't reply or says no this is out of budget. But they have emailed a few times now and keep not moving forward. Would it be unprofessional to say something like 'we will only estimate on this if you will move forward' as otherwise I feel we will just be stuck in a cycle of estimating and not moving forward?
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  2. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,047 1,096
    Tell them you now charge upfront for estimates.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
  3. WebshopMechanic

    WebshopMechanic UKBF Regular Full Member

    349 148
    Yup, been there and done that. This certainly highlights that there are 'good clients' and 'bad clients'.

    Even if they are worth a few grand a month, they can still cause issues and be detrimental to your business and other clients. Time is the most precious resource we have. No point having the money if you can't enjoy the time to spend it.

    As @AllUpHere said, I'd charge for the quotes / estimates. But I would also sit down with them and plan a future roadmap to grow their business. Sound them out and ask them what budget they have available and get them to commit to it. If they can't commit then be honest and say that your business needs to move forward and that you will help them transition / move to another provider.

    What's the point of treading water with someone? You want to be helping them to grow and be success. If you're not moving forward then the relationship is just dying.

    As long as you are honest, there is no problem serving notice to a client in that way. If they throw their toys then it's probably because you were bending over backwards and they will no longer be able to take the pi55!

    Just my thoughts.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: WebshopMechanic Member since: Apr 27, 2017
  4. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,172 260
    If they don't reply it means its out of their budget and if they tell you its out of their budget, then you know the story.

    How can you tell someone you'll only estimate a piece of work if they'll move forward - they don't know the estimate yet.

    As above, invoice for the time taking to estimate the work.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
  5. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    467 96
    Being polite might help? There may be reasons why they are wasting your time but this isn't some random person spamming your contact form is it?
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
  6. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,512 769
    Actually, your question contains the answer.

    Politely tell them you no longer wish to work with them.

    The key is the polite bit. They might get angry, but that is their problem.

    I had to do this very early in my career. We had a customer who was costing us more than we could ever hope to gain from the relationship. My boss, at the time, instructed me to do the deed.

    I phoned them up (we phoned people in those days) and calmly, and politely, pointed out that the whole purpose of a business relationship was for both sides to gain something, and neither of us were doing that.

    The guy did get angry for a while. But after that phone call we never heard from them again.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
  7. paulears

    paulears UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,961 981
    I had this with one client - the idea was that he did the engineering stuff and then I'd get to take care of the kitting out, and I'd drive all over the country, but he never seemed to win the contracts so I got the expenses of the visit, but never made any money. After telling him I couldn't do the next couple of dates I think he got the message.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: paulears Member since: Jan 7, 2015
  8. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,065 278
    I would ring them and just ask outright why they no longer send you the work, and depending on the answer bridge the problem or inform them you decline to quote.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
  9. estwig

    estwig UKBF Legend Free Member

    12,262 4,292
    Thank you for your enquiry. Very sorry but we have just won a large Commercial contract we have been chasing for sometime, we are now unable to take on any additional work for the foresable future.

    I wish you all the best with your project.

    Polite, gets to the point and draws a line under things. Works for me!
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: estwig Member since: Sep 29, 2006
  10. obscure

    obscure UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,980 714
    Sounds like they need to get a minimum number of quotes but, for whatever reason, keep giving the work to someone else.

    Your options are:
    1. Say you are unavailable and don't wish to quote for the project (end the relationship).
    2. Say in a polite way that you have done X number of quotes but have not got any of the jobs and that this is costing you money. Say that hence forth you will need to charge for quotes, but will off-set this against the fees for any work that you secure.
    3. Ask them if there is a problem and if there is anything you can do about it.
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: obscure Member since: Jan 18, 2008
  11. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,478 1,044
    How much time/effort does an estimate really take?

    If it’s a matter of 15 minutes, then I’d offset it against the past / potential value of the client. If it’s a day, then I’d certainly go with the above

    Can you develop some well-aimed questions to give a clear indication that it’s a real project?
    Posted: Sep 4, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
  12. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,417 585
    It usually takes around 15 minutes, its just the frustrating part is the continuous not going ahead. I think sounding them out more around budgets and whether the project is actually planning to move forward? If they are vague once I have asked these questions then I think it would be best to not do any more estimates for them. Thanks all for the above advice and will certainly take it all on board. Alex
    Posted: Sep 5, 2019 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  13. Aurelius

    Aurelius UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    25 3
    Do you follow up on your estimates? Do you ring up and ask if they have made a decision on that estimate yet and if you lose it do you ask for feedback as to why you were unsuccessful?

    I send repeat quotes out often. Generally I find people are just rushed off their feet than intentionally stringing me along.
    Posted: Sep 5, 2019 By: Aurelius Member since: Mar 21, 2019
  14. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,417 585
    We do follow up and this works really well with other clients. However with this client even when we follow up they either do not come back or say no.
    Posted: Sep 6, 2019 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  15. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Regular Full Member

    188 24
    No indication of why? Were they an easy client to work with in the past?

    It sounds to be that they are trying to get better prices.

    If they have been a difficult client in the past, I would forget them. A difficult client who has become more difficult sounds like they are not worth it. If they have been a good client in the past, you really need to get some real answer about why they say no.

    Have you considered any internal politics that might be a problem? One person wants you to quote and another does not want you do to the work, or similar
    Posted: Sep 10, 2019 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
  16. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    10,637 2,151
    Talk to them and find out why they keep asking for quotes but giving no feedback, you can then find out if they are with someone else but need three quotes to keep management happy or just offering the work to the cheapest

    If they are seen to buggering around just reply, "sorry unable to quote at this time"
    Posted: Sep 10, 2019 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
  17. mikespencer

    mikespencer UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    18 0
    It is really difficult work with bad clients.
    Posted: Sep 11, 2019 By: mikespencer Member since: Jun 19, 2019
  18. Instamixes

    Instamixes UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 0
    Working with bad clients is not easy at all. You can politely tell them that you can not work with them anymore. You can lose some money now, but it will be beneficial in the long run.
    Posted: Sep 12, 2019 By: Instamixes Member since: Sep 12, 2019
  19. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,417 585
    100% agree with this. You spend more time trying to deal with them and make them happy that actually you end up losing money on time wasted. Alex
    Posted: Sep 13, 2019 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  20. DavidWH

    DavidWH UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    1,455 266
    Next time they ask for a quote, politely decline

    "I'm afraid this isn't the type of project we're looking to undertake at the moment"

    We try and get budget out of customers, if it's not realistic, we decline it there and then and suggest they look at alternative suppliers.

    A small deposit before we start work, or even inviting them in for a meeting usually filters out the time wasters. If they can't be bothered to pop in, or don't value your time enough to pay for it, on to the next one who will.

    Be careful though, it can be quite addictive sacking customers :p every now and again we have cull!
    Posted: Sep 13, 2019 By: DavidWH Member since: Feb 15, 2011