As a Transaction Coordinator performing seemingly endless tasks for real estate agents, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself as an independent business owner. You try to get everything done on your agents’ timelines and rely heavily on them for business opportunities. But you are still in charge of your business! When business relationships go sour, firing a client might be the best way out.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Consider Firing a Client?
You never enter a working relationship hoping that it will fail, but sometimes, a client just isn’t a good fit. The pressures of the real estate industry can certainly affect a person’s mood, but how do you know when firing a client is a necessary step?
The Client Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries
Odds are, you became a Transaction Coordinator with ambitions of working from home and managing your work-life balance. You should never surrender that flexibility! Communicate your work boundaries (including the days and hours you are available) whenever you take on a new client (and reinforce your limitations when necessary).
If a client continually seeks your help outside of your business hours, it might be time to let them go. No matter how fond you are of your clients, you have to stay true to your boundaries. Another Transaction Coordinator may be a better fit for that client in the long run.
You’ve Had Consistent Issues with Them Paying On Time
Firing a client is necessary if they’re continually failing to pay you when (or how much) they should be. While mistakes happen from time to time, your livelihood depends on fully-paid, on-time invoices! Repeated lateness is something you simply can’t tolerate.
After all, your niche is transaction coordination! If you wanted to chase people around for the money they owed, you would’ve become a bounty hunter. Clients who have issues paying you as they should and distracting you from more important business need to be let go.
You Truly Don’t Enjoy Working with Them Anymore
This final point can be more emotional than logical. Sometimes, personalities just don’t mesh. If you find yourself dreading work because you don’t enjoy a particular client, it might be time to fire them.
Compatibility is just as important as honesty and capability when it comes to choosing who you work with. Remember, there’s more to running your own business than making money! So if a client is sucking the joy out of your career, don’t be afraid to let them go and pursue other agents that suit your personality and working style.
How to Approach Firing a Client
If firing a client seems like the next step for you, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a few key strategies. While the goal is to part ways, you want to do so in a way that’s as painless and respectful as possible.
Make Sure You’re Following Your Contract
Be sure to consult your written agreement with your real estate agent before trying to let them go. It would be frustrating (and embarrassing) to attempt to fire a client only to have them wave a contract in your face.
There might be a monetary penalty for breaking the contract out of turn—so exercise extreme caution! You might feel that a small penalty is worth the break in some circumstances, but always weigh your options before you find yourself in that situation.
Always Finish Your Current Project When Considering Firing A Client
No matter how ready you are to part ways with a real estate agent, you should finish your open projects with them first. Acknowledge that the nature of your job as a Transaction Coordinator is timeliness, efficiency, and organization. It would be inconsiderate to walk away from a task before completing it.
Of course, if you’re in a situation that calls for immediate action, at least help make arrangements for your unfinished assignments. You can put together a list of instructions or recommendations for the person taking over your role after firing a client.
Have the Conversation In-Person or By Phone, But Follow Up with an Email
Be sure not to burn any bridges on your walk away from a toxic client. Even if you’re at your wit's end by the time you fire them, do so respectfully and in person. Firing a client face-to-face (or over the phone in a pinch) grants them more closure. It also makes the reality of your decision easier to understand.
In addition to speaking with your client, always iterate your terms via email to create a paper trail. Use your judgment to decide if your email should come before or after your conversation. On one hand, emailing before you speak to your client gives them time to digest your decision. But on the other hand, they might not want to speak with you later.
Be Professional and Avoid Bringing Up Previous Issues When You're Firing A Client
When firing a client, stick to the current facts that led to your decision. Ending a working partnership will certainly stir up some bad feelings but remember your goal is not to win an argument or cause hurt. You simply want out!
Try these phrases on for size:
- “In spite of our best efforts, our working styles just don’t match. Our objectives, expectations, and strategies are not aligned, and I feel you would find better success with a Transaction Coordinator more suited to your working style.”
- “I’m looking to rearrange my business and will no longer have the time necessary to deliver you the level of service you deserve.”
- “I think you would do better with a Transaction Coordinator who has a bit more flexibility. I’m sorry things haven’t worked out.”
No matter what, stick to the high road and remain professional. Expect that sparks will fly, but remain calm (as you have time to prepare for the conversation, while your real estate agent hasn’t).
Suggest a Replacement or Provide Next Steps
Just because you’re firing a client doesn’t mean you have to leave them high and dry. Come prepared to the conversation with alternate options, such as names of other Transaction Coordinators in the area. This is a courteous way to bow out.
Remember that your ex-clients will continue to talk about you long after you finish working together. It’s best to frame your split in a positive light and be respectful so you don’t hurt your chances at other opportunities with agents in your area!
Firing a client is never your first choice, but sometimes it’s what’s best. Remain calm and take the necessary steps to protect your business! Odds are, a client who’s a better fit is waiting for you on the other side (and these client acquisition strategies can help you on your way!).