How to End Client Relationships Positively

Drafting a graceful, respectful exit strategy

For many social media professionals, ending client relationships is simply part of the business. If you work at the strategy level, once that’s defined and staff is given their marching orders, it’s time to move on. If you work with small business owners, budgets change and sometimes there’s just not enough money to retain an out-of-house community manager.

For three years, ending relationships has been an important part of my business.

How do you end relationships gracefully?

Image via Anastasia Valentine

Image via Anastasia Valentine

I take my client relationships very seriously, always striving to exceed expectations. Most relationships end amicably because my clients become friends during our time together. We may be ending the business side of our relationship, but wine dates are still on the schedule.

But it doesn’t always happen seamlessly and without upset though. Communication break-downs can result in hurt feelings and kill any hope of referral business, never mind future wine dates.

Navigating through the end of times

Setting clear guidelines at the outset of your working relationship is important. With long-term relationships, set up milestones to reassess and ensure you’re meeting each other’s expectations. If things aren’t working, it’s an opportunity for improvement or a discussion about next steps.

  • Talk to you client directly – this is a conversation not an email
  • Keep an open mind and listen closely for YOUR learning opportunity
  • Explore alternatives together and end the conversation on a positive note

Say goodbye, professionally and respectfully

As I prepare to move into my new position at Restonic, saying goodbye to my current clients has been heartwarming. They’re happy for me and know client happiness is part of my DNA. What’s more, I’ve carefully mapped out the process so they know what to expect as we wrap up working together.

  • Timing – Give your clients enough time to replace you. I recommend at least a month.
  • Hand over your work – If you’re a community manager, you’re creating a massive amount of content for your client (and hopefully keeping a copy of it in an excel document). I write a minimum of 3 SM updates for each blog post – which I hand over at the end. That content is no good to me but it can help ensure they’ll continue to be successful.
  • Keep it professional – If the relationship is tumultuous, do your best to keep it non-emotional and offer as much as possible to end it on a positive note.
  • Ask for a referral – Always, always, always ask for a referral at the end of a relationship. I shouldn’t have to tell you why.
  • Stay positive – Every client offers a learning experience.

Julia and Leigh, WIBNThis past week I traveled to Vancouver to emcee for Leigh Mitchell’s Women in Biz Network’s Urban Retreat. Along with my assistant, Annie Tran, I also managed the social media during the conference. After serving as WIBN’s DotCominatrix for almost three years, this was my swan song. I’ve enjoyed working with Leigh and as excited as I am to begin my new adventure, it will be hard to not contribute to her blog and manage her social channels.

Please visit WomenBizNetwork.com and read my wrap-up of the WIBN Conference in Vancouver. Leigh delivers top notch speakers with information women in business need to move their businesses (and careers) forward. Make sure you read to the bottom to my goodbye to Leigh and my thanks for letting me hitchhike in her galaxy for a while…

 

How do you say goodbye to clients? Please share your advice below or catch up with me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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