Sometimes you just have to let them go.

When we started our DJ business, the first were the class reunions.  Ugh.

These clients had no budget for entertainment and the guests never wanted to dance.  All they wanted was to talk and catch up.  And God forbid you ended up with a school that had a long-standing rivalry.  Still gives me the shivers.

So we “fired” them.  We just weren’t available for those jobs anymore.  We have plenty of friends who are more than happy to take those referrals.

When we decided to specialize in weddings, we had a whole new set of clients to fire: the micro-managers.  The minute we get the sense that we’re dealing with one of those Trouble Clients, we’re instantly “no longer available.”

Whether you’re dealing with low budget clients or angry complaining brides, do yourself a favor: identify these clients immediately and let them go.  Here are the telltale signs.

Sign #1 – They insist that you change your contract.

Your contract is carefully designed (I hope) to protect the interests of both yourself and your clients.  It represents how you choose to do business.

A bride or groom who nitpicks the fine print is going to do the same thing with everything throughout the wedding planning process.  You’re engaged in a power struggle and once you give in, you’ve lost control.

You end up in Bride or Groomzilla territory before you know it.

Sign #2 – They make you jump through hoops to prove you’re worthy.

One groom-to-be made us draw up three complete setlists of music for the reception (I’d submit it for approval, he’d nix the songs he didn’t like and make me do it again), called up five of our references, examined our equipment with a flashlight and asked to see what we were going to wear.  “Yes, I’d like you to model it for me.”


He was a royal pain all the way up to the wedding, and because nothing goes exactly the way you plan, he wasn’t completely satisfied, even though we did everything he asked.

This is a sign that the bride or groom will NEVER be satisfied, no matter what you do.

Let them go now before there are any casualties, like bad wedding reviews online.

Sign #3 – This client makes you work really hard at something that’s not fun and doesn’t pay.

This is a Lose – Lose – Lose scenario.

Perry Marshall, author of The 80/20 Rule of Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More (a must read for any entrepreneur!) recommends that you fire the bottom 10% of your clients immediately.

Fire the clients who:

  • Spend the least amount of money.
  • Create most of your customer service headaches.
  • Hire you to do the least profitable and enjoyable work.

Which jobs do you dread doing?  Which locations do you hate working at because the weddings are awful?  What type of work is the least profitable for you?

Pull out your client database and tally up how much each spent with you to learn the truth.

Stop trying to win over people who will never be happy.  Quit forcing yourself to do a job you hate.

There are plenty of people who are fun to work with and who will be happy to pay for what you deserve best.  When you stop wasting your time with those Trouble Clients, you’ll have more time to pursue the top 10% you actually want to be working with.

You deserve it.

Have you ever wanted to fire a client?  Leave a comment and share your story!

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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4 thoughts on “3 Signs It’s Time to Fire a Client”

  1. I have a rough personality to begin with. People don’t hire me because I am pretty or cute or nice. They hire me to get the job done right. I think nothing of firing a client at the first meeting when the price becomes an issue. Don’t tell me you want the moon but do not want to pay for it; that doesn’t work for me.

  2. Boy, is this post timely! Right now, I have a (sort of) client I’d like to fire. The reason I say “sort of” is because last year I found out this person was getting married and I asked her to think of me as a potential wedding photographer (I didn’t use normal marketing and advertising methods because I know her). This past summer, she asked if I would take family photos for her and her family. Since I felt this would be an “audition” for her wedding photography, I offered to do it for just a minimal sitting fee. The photos came out rather well and I posted them to a password-protected portal for her and the family to buy. Small change later, she is requesting an un-watermarked digital negative so she can use them for holiday cards. I told her she can purchase the holiday cards on my website.

    Oh, no! She wants to do it herself for MUCH cheaper and cut me out of the process. My photo, my time, my talent, my website space… all for free. AND, I am not her designated wedding photographer – – she’s hired someone else (thank God – they can have this bridezilla and her headache!).

    She did, however hire me to do her engagement photos (she’s changed the date FIVE times), and paid a deposit. I get the feeling she doesn’t value me as a professional (because I know her) so it’s okay for her to treat me like this. Now, I’d like to get out of the contract as her engagement photographer. The big question is HOW????

    1. I was inspired to write a Part 2, Pamela! Check this out:

  3. Nadine Andrews says:

    I recently fired a client who wanted me to travel an hour to do her wedding, but had a very limited budget. First she wanted an exhaustive list of the types of fabric I “might” use to create her ceremony Mandap, then she set up a meeting for me to talk with her father. He was ridiculously nit-picky and wanted me to provide some sample sketches even though they had not paid a deposit to retain my services. Then, at the end of the hour-long grilling, they said that they had to run all this by the bride’s mother. I wrote them a letter the next day telling them that “due to extenuating circumstances” I wouldn’t be available to do their event. I could tell I would have hated every minute of it, and it wasn’t paying enough. I don’t regret firing them for one second.

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