Navigating Difficult Conversations: Ending a Client Relationship
Navigating difficult conversations when you are ending a client relationship is essential to the entire VA industry. If you have ever taken on a client who already had a poor VA experience in the past you know exactly why. This includes offboarding a client.
These certainly don’t have to be difficult conversations. You don’t have to feel guilty if you’ve outgrown the client. Nor do you have to apologize for not being the right fit. What you are responsible for is being a professional, and, if nothing else, keeping your business reputation intact. You never know what the future holds and when your paths may cross again.
Here are some of the best do’s and don’ts for ending a client relationship.
- Provide an explanation for ending the client relationship.
Do provide an explanation knowing it can be vague.
Don’t provide more than you are comfortable with. Ultimately the decision is yours and you can decide to end the relationship for any reason.
If you are wondering what the most common reasons VAs end their client relationships:
- You have outgrown the client
- The client’s needs are better served by a team
- You have overextended yourself and/or on the verge of burnout
- The client needs a different type of VA
2. Provide your expert advice as a VA on how the client can best be assisted by their next VA.
Do be professional and focus on the positives as well as the areas that could be improved upon.
- What worked and what didn’t?
- What could their next VA do better than you?
- How could their future VA be prepared to assist their needs in the future?
Don’t place blame and note that just as in employer/employee relationships people move on.
3. Provide the terms of your contract.
Do provide the details of your contract so the client doesn’t have to search for it. Thus saving time for all parties involved.
Don’t threaten the client with the possibility of withholding work or intellectual property until final payment has been made. You must give the client the opportunity first. Starting with this negative implication will only make the process more difficult.
4. Provide next steps on how you plan to make the process seamless for all parties.
Do make mention of all the documentation that the client should make sure they have access to, where SOPs (standard operating procedures) are housed, and how you or the client can remove your access.
Don’t agree to setting up a new process and system to organize the client if what you have been doing was already agreed upon. Now is not the time to set up a new, lengthy organizational process.
5. Provide options for a mutually agreeable time frame.
Do understand the client may be upset and frustrated. Fear of not having a VA and having to do it all your own can be very frustrating. You can help mitigate the fear by providing a clear time frame that is mutually agreeable.
Don’t ghost the client. If you agree to a date make sure you meet the deadline.
BONUS! Refer another VA!
Do refer your client to another VA or the AVA so that they don’t have to do business alone.
Don’t refer clients without asking permission. The client might take this time to reevaluate their needs and the reference might not be welcome right away.
For resources, guides, tips, and trusted VA feedback to navigate difficult conversations – join the AVA.
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