When is it Justifiable to Sack a Client?

Author // admin
Posted in // Opinion, PR

Crenshaw Communications pose a juicy question in a post published yesterday. They ask – is it ever good business to fire a client?

The article offers a list of reasons why an agency would be justified in sacking a client – amongst others, if they are a financial loser or if they are giving you a bad name.

I think in these instances, a PRs job is to stand by their client – through thick and thin – and if the shit hits the fan, we should do our best to help them re-build their reputation. Nothing worse than a fair-weather PR.

So when is it OK to fire a client?

The most interesting point the post makes, in my opinion, is about clients affecting staff morale, because this has been, and will remain an absolute justification for telling a client where to stick it.

Rude clients come with the territory and PRs are seasoned professionals in how to deal with unreasonable requests and outlandish demands. Everyone is allowed an off-day, especially the paying client – we first and foremost want to keep business sweet and get those contract renewals. But where does the buck stop?

When a client is persistently rude, negative or is bringing down a team who are trying their best to do a pretty tough job – I have and would tell them (very politely) that we no longer wish to work with them.

From what I see through social networking and relationships I have forged with other agencies, the PR community boasts a multitude of close-knit, positive and forward thinking PR teams.

As a boss, my instinct is to protect and nurture my team – and personally, I feel no client is more important than that.

Just as is true for the real world, there is no place for rudeness and life is too short for old-school “customer is always right” policies.

As my Granny always says, “Manners maketh man”

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Comments (11)

  • October 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm |

    Good article. I’m actually having an owner of an agency in the States write an article on this issue as well. Will probably appear in the next few weeks on PR at Sunrise.

    PR at Sunrise – worob.com

  • October 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm |

    When I ran my own agency I fired a client because the sales director kept sending me drunk texts at 1am using rather colourful language and persistently abusing my staff in emails.

    Told him we were no longer able to look after his special needs.

    Felt good.

  • October 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm |

    @SeanFleming Nice!

  • October 26, 2010 at 1:14 pm |

    I’m just about to do just this, kind of. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say the manners point above is central. And then some.

    Good post, as ever.

  • October 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    @Steve Earl – Thanks, you and my granny would get on famously :)

  • October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm |

    It’s deeply tempting to post on this subject, but I won’t because this is such a controversial subject. Imagine if I said “yes, do it” then a future client googled me and found it…

    Great topic, want so desperately to comment, but won’t/can’t!

    Keep up the good work, folks

  • October 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm |

    @Chris Lee – Shame you’d do a good job ;)

  • Mark
    October 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm |

    I think it’s very healthy for agencies to have the confidence to sack clients that are acting unreasonably. In fact (and to your point Chris) I met a prospective client the other day who asked me when I’d last sacked a client and why. I told him and gave the reasons – he said he saw it as a positive that an agency would have the confidence to stand up for itself, even in difficult economic times.

  • October 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm |

    @Mark – thanks Mark, good to know…

  • [...] When is it Justifiable to Sack a Client? (72point.com) [...]

  • December 4, 2011 at 7:25 am |

    Hello friends,this is a nice site and I wanted to post a note to let you know, good job! Thanks.

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