Breaking up with bookkeeping clients is hard to do, as the song goes. Since I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, I’ve certainly ‘fired’ or parted ways with my share of bookkeeping clients, but it’s not all bad news. Every breakup is a valuable lesson. Today I want to share the biggest lessons I’ve learned from firing bookkeeping clients.
My most memorable breakups
To start off, let’s look at some of my most memorable client breakup stories before we dig into the wisdom I took away from it.
I had one client that took two years to turn in everything that we needed to do their books.
Needless to say, that client was out the door.
In a similar vein to my procrastinators, I also had clients that would crawl out of the woodwork about once a year. Every time they emerged from their nook, they’d promise that they would give me everything that I needed to do their books and then… they would disappear again.
For one of my clients, this went on for three years.
After three years of hide and seek, they were out as well.
I had two or three clean up clients who signed up for services. They paid for the services in full, and then promptly disappeared off the face of the Earth. I never heard from them again.
I tried following up with them several times, but they had completely vanished.
Of course, they had to go as well.
Clients who didn’t pay
In particular, I remember a client who said that he would be able to pay me for my services after I finished the bookkeeping. He said that he had to ask a relative for a loan, and he assured me that he would have the money to pay me.
Well, you know what happened? He never paid.
He had to go also.
Clients who aren’t the right fit
These clients weren’t paying enough. They were price sensitive. They weren’t a good personality fit for me. In some cases, they were too needy or too demanding. Some of them just were not very nice people.
All of these clients were not the right fit, and all of them had to go.
Clients who aren’t in your niche
In the past couple of years, I’ve changed my niche to Shopify bookkeeping. Since I changed my niche, I decided to part ways with clients simply because I want to work with more ideal clients who are in my niche.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned
Now it’s time to look at the lessons that I have learned from firing bookkeeping clients.
Lesson #1: Remove all emotion.
Though we call it a “breakup” in good fun, you’re not actually breaking up with a client. You’re not even firing a client. If you believe that’s what you’re doing, it generates an emotional response that you don’t need.
In reality, you’re simply ending a business relationship with a client. It’s a business transaction. Remember, you are a business owner, and parting ways with clients is part of being a business owner.
Lesson #2: Keep it short.
There’s no need for long explanations. As I said before, all you’re doing is ending a business relationship.
Here’s something that you might use when you’re talking to your client and having that discussion with them about ending services:
“I am taking my business in a new direction. This means that I must part ways with some of our clients who no longer fit my long term vision. Sadly, this means that I will be terminating your monthly services as of January 31, 2022.”
Lesson #3: It’s best to talk to them directly.
One of the strategies that I use is to call the client and use a script. I read my script, and that way if I’m stressed or nervous about talking to them, I can just follow what I wrote on the page.
Lesson #4: Get them out of the door as soon as possible.
If you’re working with clients who are procrastinators, you need to give them a date by when they need to provide everything that you need to finish their books. Also let them know that you’ll update their books with whatever they provide, and that you’re not responsible for completing their bookkeeping if they don’t respond to you by that date.
Have you had to fire any bookkeeping clients? Let me know in the comments what you’ve learned from your experiences. I’d love to hear from you.
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