Fire Bad Clients

A list of reasons for terminating software consulting arrangements, based on experience…

There’s no scarcity of software consulting out there, which means that bad clients are just not worth the headache!

I’ve mostly worked as a software consultant since around 2003. During that time, I’ve learned the hard way when it’s time to say goodbye to a client.

From freelance work, to leading a multi-million dollar agency with close to 50 employees, bad clients have cost me much grief and, in the worst case, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Learn from my pain. Here is my list of when to fire a client, in no particular order.

If a client loses their temper and screams at you or your people…

Fire them. Self-respect is priceless.

If your client stops paying their invoices for more than 30 to 60 days…

Fire them. And don’t re-engage if they pay later.

If your client is a male-chauvinist pig…

Fire them on principle.

If your client tries to subvert your development process…

Fire them for not accepting that you’re the expert.

If your client tries to negotiate a discount after signing your contract…

Fire them. They’ll try worse stuff later.

If your client brags about how little they pay their own employees…

Fire them. They’re planning to screw you too.

If your client sends you 5-page long emails that are insulting and incomprehensible…

Fire them for making you read that shit.

If your client insists on scope creep and then threatens to sue you for not delivering in line with original estimates…

Fire them. Don’t give them a working system either.

If your client needs to get their dad on a conference call in order to make big decisions…

Fire them. It’s a grown-up world.

If your client is trying to use their Hollywood agent to market his non-launched startup website…

Fire them for being idiots.

If your client all of a sudden insists on paying you a fraction of what they owe you and that you take an ownership stake so that “you have skin in the game”…

Fire them. Professionals don’t have time for games.

If your client has the time to write a 20 page document detailing his perception of how you should run your business, including quotes from competing firms and analysis of average salaries for your staff and how those translate into your real operating costs, and uses said document to attempt to coerce free work from you…

Bill them for the time it took you to read the document. Then fire them.

If your client was referred to you by a competing firm, who described their relationship as having “gotten off on the wrong foot”…

Run away as fast as you can! Because otherwise I guarantee you will have to fire them later.

Are you a good client? My consulting firm is called Kickass Partners and we specialize in custom web software development.




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Obie Fernandez

Obie Fernandez

CEO of RCRDSHP, Published Author, and Software Engineer. Digital Nomad. Chief Consultant at MagmaLabs. Electronic Music Producer/DJ. Dad. LatinX (he/him)

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