How to Elegantly End a Client Relationship

We've all been there. Whether the client relationship started well or you had that niggling feeling from the start that maybe it wasn't the best fit for your company, people grow and change and, sometimes, relationships need evolve or come to an end.

Many of us will put up with client relationships that are no longer a good fit for a very long time, often until the client ends it for us. This can make life miserable, or at least frustrating, for us and the client in question. Often, this can lead to ongoing strain when the relationship does end, damaging reputations and credibility. Hanging on to these relationships also can not only pull valuable time and energy away from the clients that are a fit for us, but also keep us from bringing on new clients that would be a fit.

In the same way that it's important for us to guide new clients through an onboarding process to ensure that they are a good fit from the start, releasing clients when they are no longer a fit is essential to a healthy business – yours and theirs.

Breaking up doesn't need to be so difficult. Many firms talk about "firing clients" when things aren't working out, creating a potential negative emotional situation for both sides. At Polymath LLC, we have reframed that conversation to be more positive, reminding the client that we are focused on their best interests.

We would like to share one potential template with you as an example of how you can positively frame this conversation with your clients as well.

"A lot has been changing here at Polymath, and we are constantly growing and evolving, both personally and professionally. Our client relationships are an important part of that, and we strive to work with clients who want to maintain a solid monthly working relationship that is a good fit for both sides. This helps us to keep communication consistent so that we can stay in the loop on our clients' needs and hold everyone accountable on a manageable timeline. It also makes for deeper and longer lasting relationships, which we love.

It sounds like your business needs have been changing as well, and it looks like it is time for us to shift the focus of our professional relationship. We fully support you in your decisions with your company, and we have a few of options for you:

1. Visit www.soBookkeepers.org, the Find-a-ProAdvisor website or your local Woodard Group chapter to find a local bookkeeper that we know, like and trust that may be able to offer you the level of relationship that you are seeking.

2. Keep in touch with us on our online forum at Polymath.com. You can post your questions there, and we'll respond on the forum, answering to the best of our ability at no charge. We might even make a video out of it! This is a free service that we offer to the community.

3. Keep an eye on our video tutorials and blogs. It may be that we have already answered your questions.

4. Keep an eye on our newsletters for upcoming classes and events that may be useful for taking your business to the next level. We have a lot of great content in the works that we would love to share with you.

5. All of the above!

We have really enjoyed working with you, and we want you to have the best fit for your needs, even if that is not with us. It would be best for us to deactivate your contract with us at this time so that we can all move forward with clear intention. Let us know if you would like a couple of weeks of transition time so that we can help your incoming bookkeeper with any questions. Please feel free to contact us if there is anything else you need, and also let us know if you have any feedback for us. We wish you the very best.

About the Author

Ingrid Edstrom

Ingrid Edstrom

Ingrid is a bookkeeping nerd and CEO of Polymath. She loves taking a topic that most small business owners put on a scale from boring to terrifying and turning it into a fun and rewarding part of entrepreneurship. Ingrid is the creator of the Ask A Bookkeeper puppet show, founder of the Southern Oregon Bookkeepers Association, and leader of the Southern Oregon Woodard Group.

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