Clients From Hell- Firing a Client Gracefully

Have you had a client that refused to pay, were extremely difficult to deal with because no matter how hard you tried, they were unhappy and who you ultimately wanted to fire, but didn’t know how? If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about clients from hell.

Yes, I said it. CLIENTS FROM HELL!

If you are shaking your head in agreement, I’m confident that hearing me say the unspeakable, must have brought you some sort of relief.

Because after all, like many others, you’ve wanted to say it, but opted for being politically correct instead.

Pat yourself on the back because you just took the first step to being liberated from them.

The thing is, most of us who’ve been in business for any amount of time, have had our fair share of those experiences. Even those of us who work in customer service or heck, any business where customers believe they are the only ones on this planet and that customers are always right- even when they’re not, have had their experiences of clients from hell.

And once you’ve “made it”, you’ll know because you too will join this unofficial club.

I’m here to debunk all your thinking and help you stiff arm the clients from hell, gracefully and unscathed and dance your behind right into the endzone.
So where did all this come from?
Did I have a client from hell experience that is sending me off the deep end?

Yes, I’ve experienced one or two in my day, but I fired them. However, that’s not why I decided I talk about it here today. See, I’ve been receiving so many wonderful emails from all of you with some really great questions about running an auto transport broker business. But what stood out for me was the frequency of these how to deal with clients from hell kind of questions.

So the question we are dissecting today is from Joe and he writes,
Ashley, I have a client who is a complete pain in my ass. He wanted to ship his car within a short window and delivered within an even shorter window. I sent him a quote for $300 more than what he would have normally paid and I told him that I would get it picked up. After 2 days, he’s calling and emailing me asking for progress and its still 8 days before his window begins. I didn’t even charge him yet but the way he’s acting, like I’m going to take his money and screw him over. I don’t even have his credit card info yet. I dont know what to do. He’s really a pain in my ass and I’ve never had a customer like this before. Please help. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Joe

Expletives aside, you can tell this client is pushing our broker friend Joe off the edge. He’s ready to break because it seems like we have a short case of “I’m the only one that matters syndrome.”

If you’ve ever found yourself in the same situation, here’s what I suggest you do,

In your best Donald trump voice, “You’re Fired!”

Yes, you should fire your client. See problem clients don’t just appear out of thin air. They are there from the beginning. A lot of times, we find ourselves so desperate to get the sale, or so money hungry that we ignore the signs and continue on trying to please the client.

But truth of the matter, no matter how much you do it’ll never be enough. When I started firing problem clients, I remember feeling happier and better about being a broker. I can promise you, knowing when and how to fire a client will make your job just a little less stressful.

But there’s a right and wrong way to fire a client. We could do the “you’re fired” approach but honestly, it’s not professional. And although most difficult clients deserve someone to tell them that, we have to remain professional at all times.

So let’s take Joe’s situation for example. You can start by saying this,

Client,

As much as I would love to help you with your move, I’m not the best choice for satisfying your needs.

You will be better suited talking to a broker that has relationships with carriers on your route, or with a carrier directly. They’ll be able to guarantee pickup and delivery time frames and since I’ve had the chance to examine your route, this is something I don’t feel confident in doing successfully and to your liking.

Since you haven’t been charged or given up any of your payment information, you don’t have to do anything further.

To get started, I highly recommend company XYZ, as they are a broker that has a lot of connections with carriers who run your route.

Thanks again for contacting me, and good luck Client.

Warmly,
Joe ”

And there you have it. This is pretty much the exact script I used to use to fire clients from hell. Sometimes clients would write back telling me that they wanted me to move their car and funny enough, they usually change their mind about their unrealistic demands.

Always remember, even when they are wrong, put the client first, speak with them on their level not at them, and take the blame for not being able to meet their needs even if you feel they are unrealistic. Show a little but of weakness and trust me, they’ll respond with either gratitude, pity or acceptance.

It’s time to get your game face on:

I want to hear from you, have you ever had experiences with clients from hell? How did you handle them and what was the outcome? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and as always, thanks for reading and sharing.

2 Responses

  1. This is so true. I wish I had read this a few weeks ago when I had a client from hell. This lady asked me to ship her sons car. By the time the car got picked up she was calling me asking when will the car be delivered. She called me every single day until it was delivered. Then, she went as far as to leave a bad review saying that she wasn’t happy with my services and that I should’ve called her to tell her where her sons car was and that I didn’t have any clue what was going on whenever she did call me. She even went on a rant about warning people not to choose a broker because we just sit behind a desk and overcharge for our services. Her car wasn’t damaged or anything. Just a bitter old lady.

    1. Thanks for writing in Jared. Here’s my $.02: Maybe she didn’t give you any signs that she was going to be a client from hell or maybe she did. If you’re ever in the same situation again, next time the client calls two days in a row, try to shoot them an email saying that you are going to check with the carrier and see their eta and contact them. Do this every morning as soon as you get in. This way, you’re being proactive. The last thing you want is for the client to have to call you first. Sometimes we can not control what clients do or say, but try your best to make it right when you can.

      Keep your head up and never lose sight of the end zone.

      xo,
      Coach Ashley

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