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How do I drop a client?

(48 Posts)
MushroomTree Sat 02-Apr-16 14:21:02

Hi all, in a bit of a dilemma as I need to drop a client but not sure the best way to go about it.

Back story: client is a start up company that hasn't yet started trading (this keeps being delayed due to one thing or another but is due to start in the middle of this month).

I'm paid to provide social media and other marketing materials for the company. Have been doing this since October.

Due to the company being a start up I agree to work for slightly less than I usually would, with a view that my monthly rate would be increased once the company was trading and successful.

The client is very particular about the time that social media should be posted (Mon, Weds, Sat at midday) and the quality of the content used, especially images. This is itself is an issue as the weekday times clash with work I'm contracted to do for another client and frankly I'm fed up of having to give up time every Saturday to do this work for him.

He's been quite upfront about him expecting a high standard being anal but I'm at the end of my tether with it.

I feel like he's always looking over my shoulder and keeping tabs on what I'm doing. He spends a lot of his time telling me he wants to be able to hand the social media over to someone else (me) and yet often overrules things I have planned. This is particular annoys me as he called not long ago to give me a dressing down and told me that looking at the analytics he was coming up with 80% of the social media content. The only reason this happens is because I'll give him my ideas and he'll say great, but he'd rather I did XYZ.

It's now gotten to the stage where I'm wondering why he doesn't just do it himself as he obviously doesn't really want to let go and let someone else do it.

When he called to give me a dressing down I offered to not invoice him for the work I'd done that month as he obviously wasn't happy and he then said that's fine, I'll pay the other two outstanding invoices this week! I've had to prompt him to pay me every month since I've been working for him.

I'm now thinking I should just bring this to an end as I'm not happy and he obviously isn't either.

It's bad timing as he's currently on an extended holiday in another country and the company is due to start trading this month, but I don't know what else to do.

I'm also going to be doing more hours for another client from this month, so my time is going to be stretched and if I'm honest I could do without the hassle this clients brings me.

I'm considering using this as my main reason for dropping him. He knows my hours were going to increase from 1st April, so it wouldn't come as a complete surprise.

So, sorry for the rant (!), but what would be the best approach to this? He's not going to be happy either way but I think we've probably come to the end of the road.

TIA and a glass of wine if you managed to read all of that!

glasg0wmum Sat 02-Apr-16 17:48:11

Nightmare. We've all had that client who is just more bother that its worth.

How frequently do you invoice? If it's monthly, I'd be tempted to say you'll do April but due to increased workload elsewhere / family commitments / personal issues / holiday (whatever excuse sounds most plausible) that after 30th April you'll no longer be available. He knew that you were self-employed when he took you on, if he;d wanted someone at his beck and call without the risk of them stopping work he could have employed someone rather than used a contractor. Be polite, wish him success and make some bland statement about hoping you can work together again in the future when things calm down.

Whatever you do - put it in writing or email so it's in black and white, if he's that much of a nightmare he might just "forget" any conversations you have with him about it.

MushroomTree Sat 02-Apr-16 18:15:28

Thanks for the reply. Glad to hear people don't think I'm being unreasonable.

I had to fight him to get him to pay me what he does, so it sticks in the craw a bit when he moans that he doesn't think he's getting much for his money.

I invoice monthly, about to invoice for my work in March, so I'll email and say I'll be leaving at the end of April.

I predict he'll have a strop and want me to go sooner rather than later, but as long as he pays for the work I do, I can't say I'm that bothered.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 05-Apr-16 09:20:26

They/he sounds terrible. Get out!

I know the first time I considered dumping a client it felt wrong as 'we' are always trying to find work/keep clients.

If he is going to be sticky about money, can you resign strategically? Wait until March payment is received?

Good luck.

DorynownotFloundering Tue 05-Apr-16 09:44:42

Sorry, it's not working for either of us so I'll finish on xx & invoice accordingly.

bobthebuddha Tue 05-Apr-16 09:51:00

Just be upfront and give notice, without agonising over it too much. I've held on to toxic clients like this - essentially because they owed me up to 3 month's invoices at a time - and turned down other work and regretted it bitterly. This is one to get out of sooner rather than later!

FauxFox Tue 05-Apr-16 10:04:57

If the scheduling is an issue can you not use Hootsuite or similar to post at the times required?

He does sound like a pain though...just say you feel the relationship is not working, offer to work a months notice if he wants you too and wish him luck with the future of the business. Given your previous discussions it can hardly come as a complete surprise to him!

WaterWorld Tue 05-Apr-16 11:03:06

Do you send a report of results achieved with your invoice? Just a thought.

Anyhow if it's too much hassle then offer to train him (chargeable time) and hand over the reigns then telephone support if required (chargeable) or if you can't bear it give notice leaving as pleasant a feel as possible.

Social media is something anyone can do themselves, as is decorating, cleaning, gardening etc. etc. These things they can do themselves BADLY or WELL (you should see my skirting boards). Buuuuuuuuut only if they recognise the skill/time required and that they don't have the required level of skill/time will they pay happily.

I do social media for businesses too but only where the skill level is appreciated I'm quite strict who I work with for the exact reasons you list. Even then business owners have a little dabble when you least expect it ('cause it looks easy and is so accessible)and inadvertently skew the strategy and stats arrrrgh. And breath...

MushroomTree Tue 05-Apr-16 16:47:48

Thanks for all the replies.

I'm even more keen to end this now as I've just realised when I invoiced him yesterday that he hasn't paid the last three invoices!

My fault for not checking I know, but I've not had this problem before.

When I raised the issue he tried to say his accountant who now deals with all of his finances must have put me on three monthly payment terms as it is with all his other suppliers. A likely story...

So I'll wait until he's settled up and then give notice.

FauxFox - he's very against Hootsuite etc. I've had to put my foot down with him and tell him I'm using it for the weekday content as I can't be taking time out of my in house role to be manually uploading content.

However, this still leaves the Saturday post that has to be done at 12:30 exactly every week... when I started he said he was happy to do posts on weeks that I had other plans but the reality is I've always got the impression that he's not impressed when I ask him to do it because I have things to do (perfectly valid "excuses" such as being on holiday or family weddings).

WaterWorld there isn't a lot of point in offering to train him. Essentially as far as he's concerned he knows as much about social media as I do, he just can't be bothered to do it so he pays me.

Unfortunately this isn't actually what happens in practice as he sticks is oar in, tells me to use content he's decided rather than what I've got planned, and then throws a strop when it doesn't work and has a go telling me that he's coming up with 80% of the content and he's not happy with the results...

It's definitely time for him to go. It's awful timing as the business is about to go live after about 18 months of planning, sourcing products/ingredients etc. but that can't be helped.

Tablefor4 Tue 05-Apr-16 18:39:14

Good luck on dropping him. He certainly deserves it! And flowers for much better clients

Apologies if I am teaching you to such eggs, but can't Buffer schedule social media so you can line it all up and it goes automatically at a set time?

Peach1886 Tue 05-Apr-16 19:05:42

Some clients wouldn't be worth the hassle if they were paying double...

I think play to his vanity and say that you really don't think he needs you and that your business was mostly set up to deal with inexperienced clients and you now have several of those who need your input more than he does. Re the invoices, having learnt the hard way I never allow a client to have more than two invoices outstanding before i write to them very politely and say that under the Late Payment of Debts legislation I am entitled to start adding interest at x rate from x date if the invoices remain unpaid. I THINK you need to have included a mention of this in your terms and conditions right from the start, so you probably cant do it with this idiot, but check the Payontime website rather than take my word for it. It's amusing how fast people shift when you're sending them a regular statement showing how their bills are racking up...this is a legit govt-backed scheme by the way, set up to allow tiny businesses to stand up to clients who won't pay. Bext of luck.

EweAreHere Tue 05-Apr-16 19:08:08

Get your invoices paid, and then drop him. It's business.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Tue 05-Apr-16 19:23:36

You do not need to give a reason for terminating your contract with him.

If he doesn't want to let you go, at least renegotiate the terms:
1. Monthly retainer, paid in advance
2. Content to be agreed every 2 weeks, additional charge for any changes after that
3. Routine use of hoot suite as you do not work at weekends

LunaLunaLovegood Tue 05-Apr-16 19:31:32

He sounds like a horrible bully. He is not your boss! Tell him to pay up and piss off.

Clobbered Tue 05-Apr-16 19:37:18

He hasn't paid the last three invoices? For God's sake, don't do ANYTHING more for him until he pays up and then terminate the contract immediately. Way more hassle than it is worth to continue working with such a bully.

HanYOLO Tue 05-Apr-16 21:07:16

Make him settle up first. Don't do any more work until he has. He's got a nerve to be so unappreciative of your work when he's not actually paying his bills.

Then tell him you can't work for people who are unreliable payers

Or actually don't , but tell yourself that. Tell him it's just not working out, or you think they don't need you any more. Don't let him talk/bully you in to staying.

MushroomTree Tue 05-Apr-16 21:40:00

Wow loads of replies now. Thank you for all the advice. It can be pretty lonely as a freelancer. Glad to see there is somewhere to come for a rant/advice when I need it.

Tablefor4 - for reasons known only to himself he's really against any kind of automation, even when all of the benefits were pointed out. He begrudgingly "lets" me use it for the weekday posts but won't hear of it for the weekend posts. Frankly no amount of money, whether he actually pays me or otherwise, is worth me giving up part of every weekend indefinitely!

Peach1886 - thanks for the advice and the Payontime website, I'll take a look. I should have known from the start he wasn't going to be worth the hassle when I had to fight to get the monthly fee we agreed.

HanYOLO - love the name! I definitely won't be talked into keeping him on. My in house role hours have gone up from this week, so my time is going to get tighter and I'd rather not waste hours on people who don't pay.

Update - he said he'd contact his accountant today but I've just checked my bank account and there's no money in it, so either he hasn't bothered or he doesn't think paying me is a priority...

I'll be getting in touch first thing in the morning to chase him.

I'll keep you all posted!

chillycurtains Tue 05-Apr-16 22:13:52

He's a business associate not a friend. I wouldn't worry or overthink it. It's just a financial business decision and tell him the current work is the last bit. The only reason to butter it up before telling him is if he could cause you problems with other clients or your future employment with other potential clients in the same area of work.

Itinerary Tue 05-Apr-16 22:31:49

Make sure you receive the payments and just say you're now too busy to provide what he's looking for.

MushroomTree Tue 05-Apr-16 23:08:22

chillycurtains - I can't see him causing me problems and actually I don't even specialise in the industry that his business is in (took the job when business was a bit slow) so dropping him would free me up to find a client more relevant to my specialism.

I have plenty of satisfied clients, so potential clients could talk to them if they ever wanted a reference/recommendation.

I'll be getting the payment and then moving on. Lack of time is a perfectly valid reason without the addition of late payments and being a general pain in the backside!

MattDillonsPants Tue 05-Apr-16 23:17:56

I work in the same industry OP. I can't believe you haven't got onto him for his lack of payment earlier! You owe this man my opinion you can terminate your agreement and insist he pays immediately. The lack of payment is reason enough alone.

Wordsmith Tue 05-Apr-16 23:34:58

Just drop him. Say that as you haven't been paid on time according to your terms of business then you have no choice but to terminate the contract. Point out that he agreed to YOUR t&c's re payment, not the other way round. Then make sure you send him a statement of account every week with the amount overdue in red.

It might sound a bit harsh but I work in the same line of business as you and as a freelancer clients often expect you to be grateful for the below-average rates they pay. Act like a professional and chances are he will begin to treat you as one. But I doubt if he's worth it. If it's like this before launch, what would it be like once everything's live?

If you do carry on working for him, Say that if he wants you to continue posting in real time you will charge him double time as it is out of your normal working hours. Does he expect you to be around to deal with any instant responses?

OrchardDweller Wed 06-Apr-16 00:08:20

Your client sounds like more trouble than they are worth. If he's not paying your invoice promptly and undermining what you're doing then he should be dropped immediately. I am in a similar business to you and had a very similar situation last summer. Told them that until my invoices were paid then I would not be doing anymore work for them. The invoices were eventually paid but I will not be working for them again. Your "client" doesn't value what you do and there's absolutely nothing wrong with scheduling social media posts.

bojorojo Wed 06-Apr-16 00:24:54

I think you have allowed yourself to be used. You reduced the rates because he is a start-up. Why? I guess you were cheaper for him as a freelancer and not a bigger company anyway. You have not been paid. You need to sort your financial systems out. I would by now be extremely suspicious of him and his start up. Who said it would be successful and lead to more money for you? Did you believe all that?

He is on an extended holiday (this poor person for whom you have reduced your rates) and now his wonderful company is going live - whilst he is on extended holiday. If you do not get paid, claim via the small claims court. Do not do any more work until he pays! Stop right now and forget about giving notice for April. You sound like a timid employee. You are not. Walk away and get your money.

My DH has dropped loads of clients over the years. The slow payers, the shouting down the phone at staff ones, the rude and argumentative ones, the blame shifter ones...... The list goes on. He has a very successful company and works with companies and people that are reasonable. He is sought after, but you can get to this position without working for low life. Good luck.

MushroomTree Wed 06-Apr-16 14:48:07

Update - he's paid me two out of the three invoices but told me he's sticking with the 30 day payment terms for the most recent...

Wordsmith - he does expect me to deal with responses, so although the posts themselves take say 20 minutes, I then spend the rest of the afternoon checking my phone as all notifications get sent to it.

He also likes to dip in and out of it, so he'll tell me to do XYZ to engage with our followers and when I go to do it I'll find he's already done half of it. The lazy side of me wants to say well it's less work for me, but I know he'll then pull me up on it later down the line and tell me he's doing my job for me!

I've never had this problem with other clients. Obviously they feed me content re: what's going on with their business etc. but I've never felt that they're interfering or looking over my shoulder all the time like I do with this one.

OrchardDweller - sorry that you had the same issue. There's definitely a feeling from him that he's just outsourcing his dirty work to someone else because his valuable time is better spent elsewhere. He goes on about not wanting to micromanage me, but is very quick to be on the phone if he doesn't agree with something I've done.

I've lost count of the times I've had loaded messages such as "What was your thought pattern behind X content?"

bojorojo - thanks for the kick up the backside. I definitely do feel used and more than a bit pissed off that I've let it go on this long.

I'll be giving him notice and offering to work until the end of April as I doubt I'll get the rest of my money until then anyway.

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