This is a guest post by Shayla Price, founder of PrimoStats, a searchable database of curated marketing statistics. Shayla has more than 10 years of freelance experience as a content and email marketer.
Client Offboarding: How to Say Goodbye
It’s hard to say goodbye, especially when you’ve built a genuine connection with your client. And just because you’re parting ways with a client today, doesn’t mean you won’t reconnect in the future.
That’s why client offboarding is so important. It’s an opportunity to leave a strong lasting impression and make sure you and the client are set up for success moving forward.
The goal of any successful offboarding is to wrap up any remaining projects and tasks, ask for feedback, and agree on the final steps.
Keep reading to learn how to create a seamless offboarding process for your clients.
The Basics of Client Offboarding
Similar to onboarding, it’s important to create a positive experience when you’re offboarding a client. Depending on your freelance business, you may return documents or files belonging to the client, or provide instructions on how the client can maintain the project in your absence. You may even onboard a new team member to take on some of the regular tasks or projects you were focused on.
Even if you’re leaving due to negative circumstances, it’s important to be professional and thorough. Don’t let your emotions lead you to withholding information or opting to not deliver any completed work.
Thanking your client and showing gratitude is another important part of the client offboarding process. A simple thank you email can go a long way, especially if you’re trying to maintain the relationship for future projects or networking and referrals
Last, but not least, don’t forget to send that final invoice. In some cases, the invoice may include fees for partial work completed. If your agreement ended mid-project, you should refer to your contract if you included stipulations for early contract termination. If you didn’t, it’s important to have a discussion with your client before you ship the invoice on what partial payment looks like.
Client Offboarding Scenarios
Client offboarding will vary based on whether you’re saying goodbye or if the client decides to move in a different direction. No matter the circumstances, we can help you prepare yourself for these moments, so that they have minimal impact on your well-being and business.
It's okay to part ways with your client.
When You Say Goodbye
It’s okay to part ways with your client. Most people will part ways with a number of clients during their time freelancing. You may want to stop a project because personal situations will prevent you from completing the work. Or you’ve decided that the client is presenting too many red flags and you don’t want to move forward anymore. Or you may be moving in a different direction with your freelance business. There are plenty of reasons that might lead you to saying goodbye.
Once you’ve decided it’s time, make sure to inform your client as soon as possible. While you’re not obligated to give a detailed reason for your departure, it’s important to be clear in your communication. If you think feedback might be helpful for them in the future, feel free to give it. You might also want to offer recommendations for other freelancers in your network or outline a proposed project approach to ensure the work continues smoothly.
What’s important is to never ghost your client, even if they’ve been tough to work with. It can leave a negative impression and hurt your reputation.
When the Client Says Goodbye
Unfortunately, you can’t work with a client forever. Based on your previous client conversations, you may know the reason for the departure. But rather than making assumptions, it’s best to ask the client upfront why they’re choosing to part ways.
If the client is departing due to unsatisfactory work, listen to their concerns and thank them for the transparent feedback. And if the client doesn’t want to offer a reason, that’s fine too. Don’t pressure a client to do something they don’t want.
It’s important to view feedback from your client as an opportunity to listen and learn. Sometimes clients just aren’t the right fit for us and that’s okay. Getting this feedback from one client, may keep you from bringing on a future client who isn’t the right fit.
When the Project Ends on Amicable Terms
Sometimes you’re offboarding because you’ve simply reached the end of your contract agreement or project. In this scenario, it’s very helpful for you to provide a recap of work done and again, ask for feedback. If the feedback is positive, this is the perfect time to ask for a referral or testimonial from your client!
How to Officially Offboard a Client
Close the Loop on Open Projects
Sometimes, client offboarding happens mid-project. If this happens, you should agree to a stopping point with your client as soon as possible. That may look like writing three out of five blog posts or submitting your design sketches, rather than polished drawings. If necessary, you can schedule a meeting to review the final deliverables and make sure you’re aligned.
This is also a good time to give your clients full access to any files and have them remove you from any accounts.
Ask for Feedback
When a project ends, it’s the perfect time to ask your client for feedback. Feedback is crucial to your professional development. It gives you insight into what you do well and what areas you need to improve. You can make the request easier by creating a simple email template. Here are a few things you should include:
- State your desire to improve
- Tell the client why their opinion matters
- Make a specific ask
Avoid asking for feedback about the entire project. Instead, hone on a specific part of the project. That way, you get actionable feedback. For example, you might ask if there’s anything you can do to make the revision process smoother or more efficient.
If and when you receive positive feedback, ask your client if you can use their statements as a testimonial. You can add this positive feedback to your portfolio or website to attract new clients.
Goodbye (for Now)
Most people don’t start a project with the intention to say goodbye to a client. But it’s part of your growth as a freelancer. You can create a positive client offboarding experience through preparation, being thoughtful in your communication, and remaining professional and courteous.