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If you’ve never had a client that kind of sucks – count yourself lucky! But the best thing you can do is prepare yourself… because it is very likely to happen one of these days. 

Not every client is a nightmare… and even the worst clients for you are awesome clients for someone else. But in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about why you have them, how to handle them… and yes, when it’s time to let them go.

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Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Unknown Speaker 0:09
Have you ever fired a client? Jenny? Yes, yes, I have me to

Alyson Lex 0:16
fire a client and get into the why it was the best decision for me and my business at the time. Since then, the client has actually come back to me. And we have actually a pretty healthy working relationship. It does not always end that way. I've fired a couple of clients, and they, we still don't, they're not coming back. Right? That's. But firing a client for a lot of people feels like, Oh, I could never. And what that means is that you're stuck now in this pattern of clients who don't serve you. And you might be thinking, Allison, my job is to serve my clients. Well, yeah. But do the clients you choose to serve you?

Unknown Speaker 1:07
Are they serving

Alyson Lex 1:08
you in helping you build the business that you want? The life that you want? Does that serve you? Right, it's about self-worth, and understanding what we are meant to do. And having the confidence and the understanding of ourselves to say, I am not going to accept

Unknown Speaker 1:36
this.

Alyson Lex 1:40
Okay, so, in this episode, we're really going to talk about

Unknown Speaker 1:46
how

Alyson Lex 1:47
the clients that you choose can affect you in a negative way. We hear all this talk about your dream unicorn client, that's great. What about the reverse? What does that do? And we're gonna give you some steps and some things to consider to help you really understand exactly what to do. If you have those nightmares, bad clients that aren't serving you. And really what a nightmare a bad client is.

Jennie Wright 2:18
And I don't think enough people are talking about this. That's a really big thing. So that's our only goal here is to really do the thing that people are not talking about enough. And your nightmare, bad clients can also come from desperation, right? So if you don't have enough clients, or if you're struggling for money, if you're just starting out, or it's a bad time, then you're most likely going to take on more clients without doing the self-checks to make sure that the right person asked me how I know.

Alyson Lex 2:50
Okay. We all know that. Oh, yeah. All know that situation.

Jennie Wright 2:56
Absolutely. So let's talk about what can happen if you stay in a pattern of accepting and working with bad clients if you don't have the opportunity one. Or if you don't have the strength, two or three, you don't have the confidence to be able to get out of this pattern. So you're going to struggle, you're going to struggle to grow, you're going to struggle to feel like you're doing the right thing, you're going to have a lot of negative emotions that are going to be attached to this, it's going to breed stress, that stress permeates outside of the working area, it permeates your life, your conversations with your significant other, and or friends will just be like, Oh my god, I can't believe what client X did. Or take a listen to what just happened. Or it's always gonna feel like you're constantly in a negative state. And we all know that staying in that negative space has an impact on our personal health, and our mental health.

Unknown Speaker 4:00
Big time

Alyson Lex 4:02
puts you in this position of feeling like you're always on the defensive. Yes, you always have to prove that you're good at what you do, or react to. And you're in a reactive mode, which, let's be honest, doesn't serve the client either. If you're defensive and reactive and stressed and scared, how much are you really able to show up for them?

Jennie Wright 4:34
And how much are they picking up on that? Because people are intuitive.

Alyson Lex 4:38
More than we like to give people credit for sure.

Jennie Wright 4:41
So you could take a really good client and because you've fallen into a pattern, you could actually take a good client and turn them into a negative red flag experience.

Alyson Lex 4:54
I want to just also really mention that you know, we talked Talk about nightmare clients, bad clients. This is not always that they're bad people or bad clients for everyone. They might just not be the right client for you. And that's okay. Just like you're not the right fit for every client, not every client is the right fit for you. And I don't necessarily mean financially or what they're looking for, or any of that, it could just be that either they have expectations that you are unable or unwilling to meet. Their personality does not match with yours. The way that they communicate is not appropriate for the way that you need to communicate, oh, this, this hits my soul, right? Or the way that they work

Unknown Speaker 5:58
doesn't match the way that you work. There are

Alyson Lex 6:03
people who have very different work styles. And, you know, Jenny and I, we have very different work styles. But they overlap enough that it actually enhance one another. If there wasn't that overlap.

Jennie Wright 6:21
Oh, no, no, no, that wouldn't work. This wouldn't work.

Alyson Lex 6:25
If if she was a little more one way and I was a little more or another and that Venn diagram pulled apart into two circles. It would not be a good relationship, and the same holds true for your clients. So I'm disclaimer ring, which is another verb I've just made up. Yes, I'm a copywriter, I'm allowed to make up words. Okay. I'm making a disclaimer now that when we talk about nightmare clients or bad clients, I do not mean that they are not good clients. For someone. What we mean? is they're not good clients for you.

Unknown Speaker 7:03
Yep. All right. Alright.

Alyson Lex 7:09
So other than that, there is another part to this. Is it the client? Or is it how you are working with them?

Unknown Speaker 7:24
I know, Tony,

Jennie Wright 7:26
I this is really this is there's a lot of feelings coming up when we're talking about this. And I know, before we hit record, we're like, let's keep the personal stories out. And I'm going to keep the personal stories out. But I so many things are coming up. And one of the things that comes up is understanding who you are.

Unknown Speaker 7:47
And if you don't know who you are,

Jennie Wright 7:49
and when I say who you are like what are you willing to accept? What are you willing to work with? What are your boundaries? Are you a people pleaser? Are you a yes person? Are you a morning person, like, there's so many different things that come into this? You know, I personally know who I am. But when I first started this entrepreneurial journey, I was coming out of a bad situation. Myself, we won't even talk about I've talked about in other episodes, but it's coming with bad situation of business in into this, and I didn't know who I was, I accepted the wrong clients, etc. Allison, when we could talk about this for days, I'm going to keep my stuff out of it. But knowing who you are is huge. And you could literally just get out a piece of paper and write this down. You could talk about whether or not you are a morning person, you could talk about whether or not you like to work regular hours, Allison and I don't work regular hours. We are super not regular our people, we are 100% into working different hours. So we totally you know totally different totally got it. That's how we are. So figure out what that is for you. Write it down and understand more about yourself so that when you start to work with other people, or if you're in a situation where you're working with people that it's not working for you that when you start to figure this out, you're able to customize your working experience with others.

Alyson Lex 9:18
And it also begins to customize what you offer. Because once you understand these things about yourself, it allows you to understand hey, you know what, I am not a morning person. Or I really prefer to do all of my brain work during the day and then admin type stuff or whatever it might be, I don't like calls or write core the soul out of me or wherever. And then you offer something that goes against that. Well, that's you just not that's setting yourself up for failure. 100% and it's it's a learning process. You're not gonna nail it on the first go round. You're gonna do something and maybe a year or a year and a half whatever into it. You're like, Yeah, I kind of hate that. Okay, great.

Jennie Wright 10:09
Stop doing it. Tailor your business to tell your business and your clients all the work for you like the way it works best for you. Correct? I can't do back to back calls.

Unknown Speaker 10:20
That's right, you can't the third call in

Jennie Wright 10:26
I hope the other person has a ton of patience. Because I don't at that point, I have no time. She's out

Alyson Lex 10:33
of term third term. Meanwhile, for me, I hate the piddling little calls that interrupt your day like, seriously, I have 115 minute call in the smack dab middle of my day, I'm not going to get anything done today. But that's just me. Yeah, so I tried a bunch of my calls, which has been super fun for working together, but there's enough overlap. But it also helps helps you decide what type of client is best for you. Right? If you are the kind of person that I don't want you, I don't want to have to check in with you every day. Yes, and then you go sign a client who needs that reassurance and control? We call that micromanaging. But it's really a need for reassurance and control. If they require that to feel good about the working relationship, but you resent it and hate it, why are you signing that client? Yeah,

Jennie Wright 11:33
you should you have no business signing a client like that, because that's the person is going to drive you crazy. And that's the person you're going to end up creating that resentment for. And it's going to keep you in that stuck pattern. So figure out the best client for you write down their personality write down the way that they shouldn't be working with you. And by the way, all of this could and should be reflected into your contracts, and your working agreements, as well as those onboarding calls, right? Having those onboarding calls, if you're, if you're doing any coaching work, or dfi, or anything like that, that's where you can have these onboarding conversations before or during the sales process. You want those clear, clear parameters and clear understanding. The other thing that's hugely, hugely important is in your agreements and your contracts, that you have a clear list of your deliverables and what you will do, and what is included and what is not included. Because you create so much headache for yourself. By not including that in there, I am willing to work this, your contract includes the following your contract does not include the following. This is offered at a different price. Or if you want this it will be charged separately for or if X amount of hours has been reached and you exceed on your contract, you will be charged at x rate, blah, blah, blah. All of that needs to be figured out. Remove any ambiguity. And by removing the ambiguity, do you know what you do? You release and remove the stress from you. And you release and remove the ambiguity and the questions from your client or your person. And that eliminates or helps to eliminate scope creep, all those different types of things, right. So sometimes people you know, get through the things that you've kind of set up and you're gonna see some some red flags, red flags are a big thing.

Unknown Speaker 13:33
You got to figure out what those are for you.

Alyson Lex 13:36
Because a red flag for me is not a red flag for Jennie and vice versa.

Jennie Wright 13:41
Oh, yeah. Cuz I call it red flags. You're like I didn't even see it, like saw it.

Alyson Lex 13:45
Exactly. And I'm, like, you're putting up with that? And she's like, What are you talking about? Right. So you need and this is, again, kind of understanding who you are, understand what your boundaries are. Understand what the the signs are, that those boundaries are being overridden on

Unknown Speaker 14:11
purpose.

Jennie Wright 14:14
And sometimes somebody will be a client with you, or they will go through the sales process, and you won't see the red flags during that process. They only come up later. That's a big thing, too. And how are you going to react? Those red flags come up? Those boundaries start to get pushed, and there's always a line in the sand. Okay, my friends, there's always a line in the sand where it's like, and certain people like to continue to try and move that line in the sand. How much will this person accept take or allow it to happen before there's any pushback. So you have to really look for that. And you have to determine it early. Right, Allison? I didn't even know that I had scope creep happening years ago when I started talking with Allison she's like, Oh my god. It's like, so scope creep, you need to charge for that. I'm like, really? How? How would I charge for that? She's like, Nope, that is totally scope creep. So sometimes you also need somebody to tell you that, because I had no idea but determine your red flags. They're different for everybody. Also, how are you going to react? When those red flags get shown or come up?

Unknown Speaker 15:23
There,

Alyson Lex 15:24
the non confrontational person in me is, like, I want to just be like, I'll just stop talking to them. I'll just go stuff. Don't do that. That's not healthy. Okay. My recommendation is first to have a conversation. And this is a very difficult and awkward conversation to have. I have been in business for a very long time. I had to have one of these conversations this week.

Unknown Speaker 15:57
And

Alyson Lex 15:59
it was I did it in a non confrontational way. I just I said, I just want to clarify something that is outlined in our agreement, and make sure that we're both on the same page. And the client said, Well, this is what I thought. And I said, Well, this is what it says, And this is what we agreed upon. And they said, Okay.

Unknown Speaker 16:19
Okay, cool.

Jennie Wright 16:22
If it's written clearly, it makes it easier to have that conversation. If it's not clearly established, that conversation gets really challenging. Really quick,

Unknown Speaker 16:31
very quickly. Yes. So then what? If that

Alyson Lex 16:38
particular thing continues to happen? What will you do next? This again, changes for everyone, some people one shot, you're done. Right, we will have one conversation, and then I'm done. And if that is you understand that some people want to give 85 chances, stop doing that. Right? Make a plan and stick to it. If you need to create a document with bullet points have a type of a script, whatever you have to do to have those interactions.

Unknown Speaker 17:17
At least to start practice it, it will get easier.

Alyson Lex 17:23
Alright, and in some cases, you will need to terminate a contract. You're gonna have to fire the client.

Unknown Speaker 17:33
If you're gonna want to, yeah, go ahead.

Jennie Wright 17:35
I was just gonna say and that is, that's a gut wrenching experience, if you've never done it before. It's really nerve racking. I think the first time I did it was one of the times where I probably took about three days to three days of gut wrenching pain of stress, this is going to happen, because I really didn't feel like there was another choice and then trying to make it happen in a don't burn your bridges kind of way. All the while, whilst experiencing the fact that this person was an absolute not fit. And they were, it was a challenge won't even Yeah, everybody's got a story. Everybody has

Alyson Lex 18:17
a story. And my first time I ever had to let a client go. I wrote the email. I sat on it for days, my husband actually had to hit the send button. I couldn't do it. It was right. So we get it. It's hard to do. And so what I want you to do is think about, okay, if I terminate this agreement, there are a few things that need to happen. One, the financials need to be handled. What have you delivered versus what have you been paid for? If you have not delivered as much as you have been paid for, you owe them money. Okay, I'm putting that out there that if they have paid you more than you've given, you owe them money back. If they you have delivered more than they have paid for. And you fire the client, I'm going to tell you right now you're not seeing the balance. No, that's not happening. You need to be willing to walk away from it. That's huge, huge because what you're doing is you're deciding

Unknown Speaker 19:30
my stress level,

Alyson Lex 19:33
and my mood and my energy

Unknown Speaker 19:37
are worth

Alyson Lex 19:40
walking away from this money. If you can't make that decision, you can't fire the client. Just putting that out there. So 100% your end. It is. And then like Jenny mentioned, you're going to terminate the relationship in a way that doesn't burn the bridge. We're not talking about being a jerk as much Do you want to tell them to go kick a bag of rocks? stubbed their toe on the corner of the Ottoman and fall face first into a whoopie pie? I don't care what you want to tell them to do. You are going to approach it professionally. You're going to approach it without emotion.

Jennie Wright 20:20
Always something. Yep. Always try and be the better person in this role in that always.

Alyson Lex 20:26
Yes. Take the high road. Yeah, hey, client, we've been experiencing X. And it's increasingly clear that this working relationship is no longer viable for either one of us.

Unknown Speaker 20:39
Because of that,

Alyson Lex 20:42
I am going to step away. I have delivered more than you've paid for and I will not be seeking the balance or I've delivered less than you've paid for I will be refunded you x. And, of course, all of your materials are included here. If that's the Yeah, if that's the kind of thing you do, right? Like, for me, it would be coffee, here's all your coffee. I truly wish you nothing but the best. Thank you.

Jennie Wright 21:15
That's an emotion. That's it? No, no, I got to get my Snider Martin got to get my you know, got to get my emotion in there got to share how much you ticked me off or upset me or anything, just

Unknown Speaker 21:29
wish you all the best. Take care, name, period,

Jennie Wright 21:35
no emotion. And in terms of burning the bridge. Now, if you have a Nightmare on Elm Street type of client, where if you do not get rid of them, they're literally hatching your life, or they threaten you, or they are verbally abusing you, or any of those things.

Unknown Speaker 21:58
The rules change a little they change a little,

Jennie Wright 22:03
this is not a I don't want to burn the bridge thing, this is a effective immediately our relationship our working relationship is being terminated. As a result of this termination, you will be receiving a refund of x or as a result of this termination. And for the work done. We are even like you know we're even Steven kind of thing. And there will be no room or you know, there will be no refund or etc. Right. And as per your agreement or as per your signed contract. There are no refunds on completed work. Please make sure that's in your contracts, you don't have to necessarily have to say an email, but make sure it's in there in your contracts. If you're doing the kind of work that Allison and I do because in the end, occasionally you will get somebody who tries to get a refund, even though you've delivered all the work. And then you have to go through the process of proving that you actually provided it. Side note, if you have a nightmare client, and you see the red flags, do yourself a favor, take screenshots of the work that you've completed and delivered. Whatever it is, if they're a course buyer, and they've been participating in your digital course, a lot of software, show you how much they've consumed. take screenshots, take screenshots of conversations, save emails, save calls, all my calls are recorded, save your calls, everything have it all just in case because there are those people. And in my nine years, I've had less than what I can count on one hand of people who have attempted to get refunds. And because I'm diligent in making sure that I have all of my information. Less than literally one person has gotten a refund. One. And that's because it was it was mutually beneficial for us both. And I realized, but hey, you know what? It's just it's just the way I'm going to do this.

Unknown Speaker 24:10
So, again,

Alyson Lex 24:13
Nightmare client doesn't necessarily mean nightmare for everyone. Not all client relationships that aren't positive turn toxic. Don't let us scare you.

Jennie Wright 24:26
So this is like 90, this is the 1% or low 5% Exactly. Yeah, point 5% of all of the people that you will, hopefully ever work with are going to be of this nature, but you should be prepared and that's, that's, that's why we're doing this.

Alyson Lex 24:40
Exactly. You know, and the thing is there is going to be a sliding scale. You're going to have clients that you absolutely adore working with clients that are all right, and then clients that make you want to pull your hair out and everywhere in between the more you can understand why that is, the more you can be selective in the future, and build in process products and programs

Unknown Speaker 25:06
to serve the right people so that they can serve you. Back

Jennie Wright 25:11
100%. Alright, so take the information from today, use it how you want to use it. Invest in yourself for a minute and think about your ideal client. Think about you as an ideal producer of whatever it is that you produce. And then make sure that you're creating that really wonderful marriage between you and the client so that everybody has the best experience. And so you can rave about your people. We want you to rave, not to rant, if at all possible. If you haven't already, go check out system to thrive.com Get more information on all the other episodes that we share, and help people with. If you want to talk to Alyson and I about how we can help your business. Also go to system to thrive.com you'll find an opportunity to book a call with us. We'll chat we'll figure some stuff out for you. We'll try and look at how we can help you grow your business and scale this year and beyond. Thanks so much for being here. We'll talk to y'all soon.

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