How To Fire a Coaching Client (The Exact Emails to Send)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt a pit of dread whenever you see a particular coaching client’s name pop up in your scheduling calendar or email inbox.

Yikes – nothing puts a drag on your day quite like a client you hate working with.

But you don’t have to remain locked in with a client who is hindering your coaching business instead of helping it grow. 

Yes – you have permission to fire clients! Here is how to fire a client so you can start breathing again.

When to Fire a Client

Firing a client is rarely fun.

Unlike finding new clients, coaches rarely ‘dream’ of the day they can fire a client. But just like clients can fire you, you have every right to fire your client when the client-coach relationship no longer works for you.

If you’re not sure whether or not you should fire a client, here are some signs to look out for.

How to Know When to Fire a Client

Your coaching client is always trying to lowball you

You’ve taken the time to establish your pricing, and whether your offer is a low ticket or a high ticket price, your prices are your prices.

Some potential clients may decide to haggle with you about those prices. It’s up to you to stand your ground, especially if you offer signature packages. After all, previous clients paid a certain price, so it wouldn’t really be fair to them if you gave a discount to anyone who just asks for it, right?

You’re entitled to give discounts if it feels right to you. But once someone becomes your client and signs your contract, both parties should respect the agreement.

When you have a client who constantly fights with you to lower the price of your sessions or ‘get a discount on the next session’, this can get draining really quickly. 

Here’s the thing – your client signed the agreement, and as a result, they said they agreed to your prices. At this point, arguing over your pricing shouldn’t even be a question.

Imagine going to your car dealership every single month after buying a car and asking for a discount on this month’s car payment. 

This type of client may also try to do the following:

  • Question whether or not they received what you’re invoicing them for
  • Tell you another coach is offering a similar package for cheaper (hint – no other coach has your life experience and can offer exactly what you do!)
  • Ask you to work hourly instead of by the package

If every encounter is a battle for your pricing, it may be time to move on.

Your client exhibits narcissistic behavior

Narcissist clients believe everything is about them. In the case of coaching, yes, your coaching service is about helping them, but you still have boundaries that all your clients should respect.

This could be a client that is constantly rude to you, even when you try to coach them. In other cases, they could go on and on about how other coaches have done a terrible job helping them.

Here’s a hint – if several coaches failed to help a client, perhaps the coaches aren’t the issue!

Other ways this can manifest, is going directly against your terms, like paying invoices late or always using the wrong method of communication to contact you.

In any case, you should absolutely not retain a client who is rude to you or crosses your boundaries. 

That’s easier said than done, though. When you lack confidence, which can happen to coaches of all levels, narcissistic clients can take that as a sign that they can walk all over you.

And once a relationship starts this way, it’s difficult to reassert yourself.

If you want to save this type of client relationship, you need to clearly establish your boundaries and let them know these boundaries are non-negotiable. 

Your client does not respect your time

This is a tough one, because clients who don’t respect your time can otherwise be lovely and easy to deal with.

But this doesn’t mean lack of respect for your time isn’t a problem.

This client may constantly show up late to your sessions, drag out the sessions longer than they should last, and contact you outside of your specified hours (raise your hand if you’ve had a client text you in the middle of the night!).

A client who doesn’t respect your time doesn’t always mean to do harm. Some people naturally don’t keep track of time as much as others.

Sometimes a quick and polite reminder to show up on time or contact you during the right hours will be enough, especially if this client didn’t realize what they were doing. But if this issue constantly comes back, it may be time to fire this client. 

You feel like you should fire your client

Here’s the thing: you can look for all the reasons in the world to fire a client. You can go back and forth, wondering whether it’s the right thing to do.

But when you start dreading your sessions with a particular client – or if you notice this client is taking more energy from you than you believe is fair – then that is reason enough to pull the plug.

You don’t need to wait until your client checks one of the items off the list we just covered. If it feels right to you, it’s time to go ahead and do it, even if it’s difficult to do so.

Just make sure you’re discerning the difference between a bad client and a challenging client. As coaches, some clients can be more challenging than others, but it doesn’t mean they’re bad clients. It only means they have bigger challenges to overcome, and they need you more than ever.

Challenging clients are your ticket to leveling up your coaching abilities. If you only took the easiest clients and fired those who needed your help the most, you would stay stuck in the same place forever!

How to Fire a Client Nicely

If you’ve decided that a client relationship is no longer worth salvaging, then it’s time to pull the trigger and fire them.

Does that mean you should come in guns blazing and be rude and abrasive when you do? Absolutely not!

Remember that as a coach, you are a professional. This means all communications with a client should remain professional, even when you’re letting them go. 

That way, you’ll have nothing to feel bad about once everything is done. 

You’ll also mitigate the risk of ex-clients badmouthing you to their network. You’d probably feel peeved too, if your own coach suddenly started screaming at you to let you know they no longer want anything to do with you.

If you know any coaches who would be a better fit for your client, gather their information to suggest them as an alternative. Of course, you don’t have to find another coach for your client, especially if you are dealing with a narcissistic client. 

You can take several approaches to nicely and respectfully fire a client:

  • No longer a good fit: Explain that you believe you are not the ideal coach for their current situation and that you believe both of you will benefit from ending the professional relationship. 
  • A change in circumstances: Tell your client that your current life situation has changed, and you will now be unable to help them moving forward.
  • A change in your business: Let your client know that going forward, you are making changes in your business, and as a result, you will no longer be able to help them. This is especially true for clients who do not respect your time – your new business values may demand a more strict way to manage your time, which won’t work with this type of client.

No matter what, always avoid blaming the client during the exchange. You should also avoid getting in an argument about your decision. Be firm about your choice, and make it clear that your decision is final.

3 Client Termination Letter Templates to Help You Fire a Coaching Client

Are you staring at your computer screen with a blank email draft staring right back at you, as you try to write a client termination letter?

It’s tough. But you don’t have to start from scratch!

Here are three templates you can use, based on the three approaches discussed above.

No longer a good fit

Hi [name],

I’ve appreciated working with you over the past [amount of time].

I have given this a lot of thought, and I have come to the conclusion that perhaps we are not the best fit to work together to help you [achieve the goal they want to achieve].

This wasn’t an easy decision, but it is important to me that you find a coach who will be on the same page as you and can meet your expectations.

[Optional] I would be happy to put you in touch with someone in my network who would be a better fit, if you wish.

[Greeting and signature]

A change in circumstances

Hi [name],

It has been an honor working with you thus far. Over the past [period of time], I’ve had several changes in my life situation, and as a result, I will need to make some changes in my client base to establish a new work-life balance.

Unfortunately, as of [date], I will no longer be able to work with you. I am thankful for our time working together, and I appreciate your understanding.

[Optional] I know you would still like to work on [their specific goal], so I would be happy to put you in touch with someone in my network who offers similar coaching services, if you wish.

[Greeting and signature]

A change in your business 

Hi [name],

It has been an honor working with you so far. During the past [period of time], I’ve been evaluating my business and have come to the conclusion that I need to head in a new business direction.

Unfortunately, this means I will no longer be offering [specific coaching service, package, or pricing]. As of [date], I will no longer be able to work with you.

Please know that I am thankful for our time working together, and I appreciate your understanding.

[Optional] I know you would still like to work on [their specific goal], so I would be happy to put you in touch with someone in my network who offers similar coaching services, if you wish.

[Greeting and signature]

Break up with a Client to Make Space for Your Growth

Although firing a client is challenging, both you and your client will benefit, if the relationship wasn’t great for the two of you in the first place. Getting rid of problematic clients will give you the space and energy you need to find and work with your dream clients instead!

How to Fire a Client
By Team Paperbell
April 13, 2021

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