How to Break Up with a Client in a Professional Manner

Feb 13, 2024 | Blog

When you first started your business, it probably felt as though finding clients was all that mattered. However, as your company grew and you refined your focus, you probably came to the realisation that certain relationships were no longer serving you… and now you’re not sure what to do about it.

Perhaps a client is draining your time without generating much of a profit, they’re outside of the niche you want to focus on or maybe they’re just a nightmare to deal with – hey, it happens. Whatever the case, ending certain client relationships is part and parcel of business growth and so you need to do it firmly and professionally without hurting any feelings, or your reputation. Here’s how.

Knowing When to Fire a Client

In business, there are times when you have to stop working with a client but if you’re not used to cutting the cord, then you may feel unsure. Here are some signs that might indicate it’s time to say goodbye:

  • They’re outside of the niche you want to serve. This doesn’t always mean you have to let go of a client if you enjoy working with them, but make sure that continuing to do so doesn’t hold you back
  • They don’t value what you do and often take advantage of it by asking for more than they should or even expecting free services from you.
  • You’ve been working with them for months and haven’t seen any progress on their end towards achieving their goals. You need clients who work with you, not against you.
  • They’re dishonest
  • They don’t communicate well
  • They’re rude or even abusive to you and your team

Give Plenty of Notice

You’ll need to give plenty of notice when firing a client. It’s important not only because it shows respect, but also so that the client has time to find a replacement before your services are no longer available for them. Even if you can’t wait to be free of a client, you need to protect your reputation by making the transition as easy as possible for them. It will pay off in the long run.

Be Polite  and Professional

When firing a client, it’s important to be as polite and professional as possible. You should show respect and treat them with dignity. Even if they were a nightmare to work with, don’t insult them or call their character into question. Focus on yourself and explain that your business is simply moving in a different direction, rather than starting a feud.

Honour Your Promises

Firing a client halfway through a major project will do more harm than good to your business, as your reputation will take a hit. If you leave clients in the lurch, they will be vocal about it. Instead, you must honour your existing agreements and see work through to completion, but make them aware that you will not be renewing your contract or taking on any other projects in the future.

Make It Sound Beneficial for the Client

When the time comes to end a relationship with your client, you need to make it sound like an opportunity for them. You can say that you realise their needs will be better served by another provider and recommend someone more suitable.

If you’re ending a partnership because you’re changing your niche, explain that you’re moving in a different direction and so will no longer be able to continue meeting the client’s needs. This is the business equivalent of “it’s not you, it’s me” – albeit less cliché.

Thank Them

Even if you’ve been unhappy with your client for months, make sure to thank them for their business. This will end your working relationship on good terms and prevent any hard feelings about the situation.


Honestly speaking, firing a client is no-one’s favourite task. It is, however, often necessary in order to grow and improve your business. Don’t feel guilty about having to fire a client, but make sure to be polite, thank them for their business and assure them that you will do everything you can to make the transition as smooth as possible. Breaking up with a client doesn’t have to be painful, and in the long run your business will definitely be better off.

Dext partner logo

Growth on your mind? Let’s talk

We’ll chat about your business, your future, and your aspirations. And then we’ll help you get there.