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5 Signs You Need to End a Contract with a Client

It’s important that you feel empowered to set healthy boundaries with clients/customers and know it’s acceptable to say “NO”.

As a small business or contractor, especially when your starting out, you go above and beyond to give a great service in hopes that you will continue to build a long-term partnership or have a frequent customer. Unfortunately, there will be some who will take advantage of your generosity and willingness.

We can often feel the urge to people please but this mindset will see you working more hours than agreed or taking on additional work that you weren’t even contracted for. In reality, we can’t please everyone and not all clients/customers are going to appreciate the value of what you do.

In any project, it’s important to frequently assess your working relationship between you and the client/customer in order to address concerns immediately or to decide working with them on future projects.

Based on personal experience, I have created a list of some signs to look out for. This will aid in your decision on whether to renew a contract once it’s ended or decline additional projects from specific clients/customers.

1. You constantly have to chase the client

It’s understandable that people live busy lives. However, when a client/customer consistently ignores your attempts to communicate with them, it will affect how efficiently you can your job, especially when you require sign-offs from the client in order to move on to the next phase of a project.

If this is a reoccurring issue, address this with them. It’s important that both parties see the importance of working together as a team to achieve the desired outcomes.

2. They don’t pay invoices on time

This should be very concerning. When a client or customer doesn’t pay on time, it’s often a sign they don’t have the funds available to pay for your services. It can also be seen as how little they care for your time and effort.

Your contract should clearly state when payments are due and consequences for delayed payments.

3. They keep postponing catch-up sessions or scheduled meetings

Life events happen and we can’t always foresee them. However, if you schedule meetings in advance and they often cancel last minute, it’s usually a sign the client/customer is disorganised and doesn't see your time as important. You’ve set aside time to give your undivided attention to them. It’s only fair they give you the courtesy of attending or communicating to you another mutually convenient time in advance.

Frustrated person at work

4. They always have excuses and are not very transparent

It’s important the clients also hold up their end of the deal and provide you with the necessary information that is required to do your job. When you ask them for information but they dodge your question or not give you a straight answer, that’s something to be concerned about.

Their job is to ensure you can do your job. It’s difficult to do so with limited information. It’s in the best interest of both parties to be transparent with each other and demonstrate integrity to achieve the agreed objectives.

5. They don’t let you do your job or try to do your job for you

Clients/customers that micro-manage and constantly tell you how to do your job is extremely unprofessional.

There’s a massive difference between giving feedback or advice and telling someone exactly how to do their job. They hired YOU because YOU’RE the expert. Unless they can actually do your job, they are in no position to tell you what to do or how to do it.

Working with micro-managers will see yourself becoming frustrated. They will impede on your creativity and productivity, disabling you to produce your best work.

It’s better to work for a client who respects your expertise and knowledge, giving you the space to positively impact their business.

Going forward…

I hope the information above will help you make the best decisions to ensure successful future partnerships.

From my learnings, assessing client relationships and setting reasonable boundaries, my creativity and productivity improved and I’ve come across opportunities to work with clients that value what I offer.

professional handshake

In any professional relationship, it’s important that you and the client/customer have agreed on a code of conduct to ensure you both achieve the desired outcomes efficiently. This includes clearly communicating what your business can or cannot do.

If you’re keen to learn more, I encourage you to seek expert advice on how to set up a contract that benefits both parties.

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