When to Fire Your Clients & Customers

by Wayne Sharer

International speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Retired navy officer, former commanding officer. Over 35 years of leading, coaching, mentoring, and speaking.

February 25, 2013

challenging customer image

What to do with the Challenging Clients?

In the USA and likely in other countries where liberals seem to own the main stream media, many people come to believe customers can get away with anything and there is nothing you can do as the business owner.  You’ve heard the saying “the customer is always right.”  But is this true?

Is the Customer or Client Always Right?

I say of course the customer is not always right.  I used to run a retail store.  It was privately owned and I can assure you there were limits.  We had rules there.  If a customer was being polite and reasonable, then the customer was always right.

However, when the customer comes in and starts calling you names, demanding things you don’t have, and is disturbing all the other customers… well, that customer is no longer right.  In fact, a customer like this is on the verge of having the police called on them if they didn’t get out the store when I told them to.  Here’s how I think is best to deal with challenging clients and customers…

How About This…

Here’s an example. I had a customer (actually the person was not a customer since this person never bought anything) ask me for a service the store did not offer, nor did they ever offer.  I politely told the customer, “We don’t have that service here.”  This simple statement apparently irritated the hell out of the customer.  The customer immediately fired back, “What’s the matter with you, are you stupid?”

I said, “No, we simply don’t have that service and I really don’t know who does.”  Which the non-customer fired back at me again, now swearing, and I simply won’t repeat the rude stuff that followed.

At this point, I told the non-customer to leave the store.  The rude visitor now replies, “I’m not leaving, what ever happened to the customer is always right?”

I replied very calmly, “You are not a customer, you are rude and upsetting real customers.  You have two choices.  I call the police, or you leave the store right now.”  The non-customer left the store, yelling all the way out the store.

The remaining customers cheered me, thanked me, and shook my hand for getting rid of the visitor from hell.

What’s the Point?

The point being is, you own your business, online or off.  There are limits.  If you are a private consultant, you should be firing customers that take everything beyond the limits.  You should be doing everything possible to satisfy your customers who work within the limits of services and products.  For these folks, I even give them extra stuff when things don’t come out like they or I planned.

However, if a client or customer starts demanding things way beyond the limits of your contract, or your services and never stops, it is time to get rid them.  Don’t worry, you likely aren’t the first one to fire them as a customer.  They are usually well practiced at this.  You aren’t special, and they aren’t picking on you.  They treat almost all of their service providers the same way.

What are the Indications?

Here are indications you should fire your customer (assuming none of your other customers are frequently making the same complaints):

1.  They constantly complain about how you talk

2.  Nothing you say is good enough for them

3.  You give them extra services and deliverables, beyond contract requirements, and the always demand more

4.  They constantly think you should give them more for free

5.  They do not treat you respect (assuming you are respectful)

6. They buy stuff and constantly refund

I’m sure you can think of more.  But seriously, if the overwhelming majority of your customers are very satisfied with your performance, don’t hold onto the ones that are a nightmare.  They will ruin you life, literally.  Fire your bad customers.

Here’s a couple more perspectives on what you can do…

The Professional’s Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Difficult Clients


Learning how to deal with every client type is imperative for becoming the consummate professional within the cut-throat world of business.

How to deal with difficult clients | Creative Boom


Ask anyone who runs a business what one thing makes their life difficult and they’ll roll their eyes and almost immediately say – clients! Clients can.

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