Nov 2 2021 / Client Management

How to Get Rid of a Difficult Accounting Client Without Feeling Bad

How to Get Rid of a Difficult Accounting Client Without Feeling Bad
Lisa Chaud

Lisa Chaud

5 Min

We’ve all dealt with difficult clients in our practice, but some are worse than others. Sometimes a difficult client can be frustrating, but not too time consuming. But then there are those clients that take up so much of your time that it affects other clients in your practice. These are the clients you can’t have.

Knowing how to get rid of a difficult client is the key to a successful practice. You will no longer feel drained and your client can get the help they need, but which isn’t what you offer.

So how do you get rid of a client politely and without feeling bad? Here are the top ways.

Learn how to get accounting clients using proven methods that accounting firms and bookkeepers use to find their ideal clients in our blog.

What is a difficult client?

First, let’s describe a difficult client, because not all clients will be ‘picture perfect.’ You’ll have bumps in the road with every client, but some clients just drain you. 

Difficult clients often exhibit the following characteristics.

Using up all of your time

If a flat rate client uses up all your time, you may not have time for other clients who pay by the hour. Needy clients that overstep their boundaries and ‘use you’ for your services while not paying by the hour can decrease your earnings. You won’t have the time or energy for other clients because you have to put all your focus on the client taking advantage of your pricing model. 

Micromanaging your tasks

A client that oversees everything you do rather than letting you be the expert isn’t worth it. If you have a client constantly breathing down your neck and questioning everything you do, it may be time to cut ties. Not only is this unprofessional, but it makes you doubt your abilities with other clients.

Not responding to your questions or concerns right away

If a client doesn’t respond to your questions or concerns right away but then demands your attention when they come back around, they can be too difficult to manage. Whether the client changes things every time they do come back around or they expect your full attention when they’re ready to deal with you, they can distract you from clients that respond right away and work with you rather than against you.

Not paying invoices on time

Not only do difficult accounting clients often demand all of your time, but then they don’t pay you. Whether they are a flat-fee client or hourly, they’ll come up with excuses why they can’t pay you on time. Now not only have you given them all your time, but you lose money sitting on their accounts receivable too. 

How to get rid of a difficult client – 4 simple ways

It’s never pleasant asking clients to part ways, but sometimes you have to do it for your own good. If a client is draining your business and you personally, you won’t be able to provide the same level of service to your other ‘less difficult’ clients.

Check your contract

Before you try to part ways with a client, check your contract. The last thing you want is to be in breach of contract. What terms did you include in your contract? Will you owe the client a refund? Should you give a certain amount of notice?

Read the fine print carefully and, if necessary, contact your attorney before firing a client mid-contract to ensure you won’t face legal consequences.

Have a direct conversation

Letting someone go is never fun. Prepare your conversation so that you are direct and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush or leave room for argument or even negotiation. Once you’ve decided a client is too much to handle, stick to your decision and fire them.

State the facts, don’t point fingers, and be matter-of-fact. Your client will get the point and won’t argue if you don’t leave room for discussion.

Give real reasons

Don’t make things up or make it look like you’re taking your business in a different direction. If the client discovers the truth later, they may badmouth you or cause you to lose more accounting clients.

Instead, give real reasons why you need to part ways. If the client takes up too much of your time, offer an hourly contract if it makes you feel better. They probably won’t take it because they like the flat-fee and using up your time, so you’d still be off the hook. 

If the client asks for tasks you don’t normally do or which don’t fit within your business model, tell them that this is why you are parting ways.

Be professional

As frustrating as it can be, be as professional as you can when firing a client. You may even want to follow up the conversation with something in writing so there’s no guessing what comes next. 

Don’t use this as an opportunity to tell the client everything you think of them. Consider yourself in a better place by letting the client go, knowing you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business. 

Final thoughts

No one likes getting rid of a client, but sometimes it’s in the best interest of your practice. If you aren’t using your time efficiently because certain clients take up too much of your time and energy, it’s time to cut the cord.

A successful practice relies on quality accounting clients that respect your boundaries and abide by your terms. A practice management platform like TaxDome allows you to better manage clients and find more time for personal conversations instead of admin tasks. 

Looking to improve the client experience?

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Lisa Chaud

Lisa Chaud

Lisa is a marketer at TaxDome. As someone who strives to provide the TaxDome community with the freshest data, she dives deep when conducting market research for accounting and bookkeeping industries. Her enthusiasm for all things accounting is matched only by her dedication to leading a physically active lifestyle that includes dancing and running.

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