How To Fire a Client From Your Coaching Business (The Exact 3 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 nightmare clients you hate working with.

But as a business owner, 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. As a coach, your own mental wellbeing is as important as that of your clients, so look out for yourself.

When to Fire a Client

Firing clients is rarely fun. But unfortunately, it comes with the territory of being your own boss.

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 a client when the client 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

1. 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 a small business and need to stay afloat somehow!

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 particular client type 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

Their cash flow issues are not your problem. If every encounter involves payment issues and a battle for your pricing, it may be time to consider an exit strategy and move on.

If you tell the client nicely that haggling isn’t acceptable, but they continue, it’s time to say bye. It’s a good business decision as problem clients waste your time and energy and just aren’t worth the hassle. You’re running a profitable business here, not a charity. Good clients will never question your decisions on pricing once an agreement is signed.

2. Your client exhibits narcissistic behavior

Narcissistic 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.

Difficult clients could be those who are 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! There are a few clients out there who aren’t ready to work with a coach.

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. This type of behavior is one of many red flags to look out for in a bad client.

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 client relationship starts this way, it’s difficult to reassert yourself. Remember, you deserve to work with your ideal client from the start.

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. 

3. Your client does not respect your time

This is a tough one because a client who doesn’t respect your time isn’t necessarily a toxic client and can otherwise be lovely and easy to deal with.

But this doesn’t mean a lack of respect for your time isn’t a problem. As a business owner, time is money for you.

This particular 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!).

Clients who don’t respect your time don’t always mean to do harm and aren’t the most difficult clients. Some people naturally don’t keep track of time as much as others. Just be wary of unreasonable expectations your client may have of you. Good clients won’t overstep your boundaries and will respect your time.

One way to solve this is to be clear about boundaries when you sign a new contract with a client. Setting clear boundaries ensures you’re both on the same page and will limit such behavior.

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

4. 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 on your working relationship with them.

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! Someone with extra difficulties or challenges to overcome can also be a great client.

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. It may be a tough call, but will be beneficial to you in the long term.

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 bad clients. Here’s how to break up with a client in a way that shows mutual respect:

  • No longer the right 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 working 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 due to personal circumstances.
  • A new phase in your business: Let your client know that going forward, you are making changes in your business, heading in a new direction. and taking on new projects. As a result, you will no longer be able to help them and are terminating the relationship. 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, as burning bridges is never a good idea. You should also avoid getting into an argument about your decision. Be firm about your choice, and make it clear that your decision is final and you want to part ways.

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

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

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

Here are some letter-to-fire-a-client templates you can use to end a bad client relationship. They are 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 of this business decision.

[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 direction

Hi [name],

It has been an honor working with you so far. During the past [period of time], I’ve been evaluating my small 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]

Best Practice for Firing Existing Clients

So you’ve made the tough call to get rid of a difficult client, but what are your responsibilities to make sure you end the client relationship on good terms?

Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Have an honest conversation. You know you made the right decision, so be firm about it and don’t let the client try to persuade you against it. Avoid the blame game, and while it’s ok to share the truth, blaming the client for doing something wrong isn’t going to get you anywhere. It could cause bad feelings, and remember, people talk – you don’t want to ruin any future endeavors.
  • Make sure the message gets through. If you send an email using one of the sample scripts above but don’t hear anything, be sure to follow up with a phone call. You want to make sure the client actually received your communication and doesn’t just think you’re ghosting them.
  • Complete any outstanding work and share the news in a timely manner. The right time to end the client relationship is probably not in the middle of a big project. There should be a transition period between firing a client and closing client relationships completely. Keep your promises and close up anything you agreed upon before you give the client the news.
  • Offer other options. Don’t leave your client hanging. Suggest other coaches you think they could bond well with. It will bring you good karma and help not leave the client with a bad feeling about you.

Break up with a Client to Make Space for Your Growth

Although firing difficult clients is challenging, both you and your client will benefit. Life is too short for client relationships that don’t serve you. Getting rid of problematic clients will give you the space and energy you need to find and work with your dream clients instead!

Now you know exactly how to fire a client; you can confidently let someone go without damaging your reputation or ability to find prospective clients. Go out there and build meaningful client relationships that make you feel good.

How to Fire a Client

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
March 24, 2023

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