Turning Away Prospective Clients

Gina Deveney
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As a business owner, you want to help as many clients as possible so you can keep your business thriving. However, there are cases where you need to turn down clients to prevent future issues. Learn when to say "no" and how to say it to keep your reputation and the goodwill of your prospective clients.

Ideally, a business should be able to juggle a large number of clients; however, the business could be swamped at certain times of the year. If you run into a timing issue, politely decline the client's business after explaining your current work load does not allow you to serve him in a timely manner. Give the client a specific date or time period after which you can focus your full attention on his needs, and apologize for not being able to help immediately.

You may also have to turn down clients if, during a consultation, it becomes clear they require skills or resources you do not possess. Always be honest with clients, explaining that their needs are outside of your area of expertise. Describe your specialization and abilities, and let the client know what types of practice can meet his needs.

If certain clients do not have the budget to pay for the services they are requesting, set a limit of how much you are willing to lower your prices. You may give a small discount to keep their business but be willing to turn down clients if they expect too much for too little pay. Another reason you may want to turn down clients is if they do not have a clear vision of what they need or desire. If you accept their business without seeking clarification, you might waste your time and their time. Instead, refer them to a business consultant who can help them refine their goals. Declining in this way shows good customer service, increasing the possibility these clients return for other future needs.

You may find that some clients are simply not a good fit for your practice. They may have challenging requests you are not willing to take on, or they might have a reputation for creating a difficult working relationship. Explain you do not think your business is the best fit for their needs. However, before you turn down clients because the project or relationship may be stressful, decide whether you would be willing to take on the challenge for a high enough price. Quote the client that amount. If the client declines, you save yourself from having to turn him down.

No matter what reason you have to turn down clients, always refer them to someone who can help, creating a positive impression even as they leave your office. If you do not want to lose these individuals as prospective clients, end your conversation with an apology and an invitation for them to return for future business.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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