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Firing A Client

Updated: Apr 13

Ugh. The thought of firing a client makes you cringe, doesn’t it? At least, if you’re a conflict avoider like I am, it’s a very unpleasant situation to find yourself in. But, it occasionally is necessary.

I’ve only had to do this a handful of times, and I admit I let it go way too far before I pulled the trigger. But you know what? As my dear friend Fahim says, you often have to “say no so you can grow.” Hanging on to those who are a drain and not a boost does harm, both to you and to them. It harms you by sucking away your time, energy, and zest, and it harms them by leading them on, hand-feeding them, and not allowing them to leave the nest and make it on their own.

This world is full of takers—those people who want as much as they can get for free without putting in the investment of time or resources that others put in for the same thing. And the world is also full of abusers—those people who feel that they can treat others disrespectfully or as if they were less-than in order to make themselves feel more important. Takers and abusers should never be pandered to, because in doing so you just reinforce their bad behaviors.

Takers can sometimes be given a little more grace in hopes that they’ll eventually see value and become a client, however abusers must not be tolerated and need to be fired. Immediately. Firing a client is like ripping off a bandage—painful, but necessary. One of our clients recently had to do this to someone who had been verbally abusive to their staff over an issue that wasn’t actually an issue, and they put their foot down. They told that person point blank that they’re no longer permitted to do business at their establishment, as mistreatment and abuse of their staff will absolutely not be tolerated. I applauded this! It’s so important to set a standard and to not let those who feel that they can get away with that type of behavior. 

Please note that, when firing a client, just like when firing a team member, you need to be very clear with the reason why you’re doing it. It needs to be done with cause and not because of a simple ideological disagreement, personality clash, or other non-threatening reason. I want to be very clear that I believe wholeheartedly in businesses who have an inclusive, welcoming, love-all, serve-all mission. But when a client is being mean and that meanness crosses over into abuse, then my goodness you need to protect your staff and your business and get rid of that client. In doing so, be sure to outline the cause, be specific, and be very clear that you’re well within your rights to cut them off because of it.

Sometimes firing—or at least putting up a firm boundary—can and should be more gentle, especially in the case of takers…and especially especially in the case where those takers may not realize that they’re being takers. At AYM High Consultants, we’ve been recently having some discussions on how we make sure we honor our dedicated, paying clients with our best resources and time. While we want to do our best to accept outreach from others and potential clients and those who just book an initial 30-minute call but don’t go further, our managing partners find themselves fielding inquiries and one-off questions most of the day from those who seem to want free advice but not commit to our full coaching. So, we had to come up with a kind, polite response to let them know that we had to limit that contact unless they wanted to sign up.

Here’s what we came up with: 

Thank you so much for reaching out. We must respect our clients who have subscribed to our Monthly Accountability Package and above by reserving our time and resources for their outreach. We'd love it if you would join them so we can assist you further! Please check out to see all of our offerings and how we can best be your partner in success.

We’re not outright firing those people, as we do hope they’ll come on board as true clients and see the value in doing so. Instead, we’re protecting those who have put their hard-earned resources into an investment with our coaching, and in turn are finding themselves growing their businesses exponentially and covering that wise investment again and again. It’s our responsibility—as limited humans with limited time and limited patience—to be very careful with those resources, giving them to those who appreciate and value it the most.

Knowing your worth and your value is so important. We coach people at AYM High all the time about this very basic concept and guide them to pricing strategies so they don’t sell themselves short. So many people—and I’ve been here so often, learning from much experience—consistently and gravely undervalue their time and expertise. If you are a professional, an expert, a specialist, or someone with knowledge, skill, and information that’s unique and specialized, then you have tremendous value. 

It's your right and responsibility to put up boundaries for clients who are being takers, and to outright fire—with cause—those clients who are being abusive. It’s not fun, but it’s important. Your peace of mind after it’s done will be well worth it.

Marty Johnson is the Communication and Vision Coach at AYM High Consultants, a columnist, and an editor, producing the mail and business center industry's leading magazine, MBC Today. In 2023, he sold his popular and growing brand, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, and retired from shopkeeper life to focus on writing and coaching. Subscribe to his Ask Uncle Marty™ newsletter and read more at; follow him on socials @askunclemarty. #AskUncleMarty

This article was co-published on the AYM High Consultants blog and on on April 12, 2024



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