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Breaking up with a client

Long term client must cease

     
5:55 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've a particular long term client who's followed me from company to company over a number of years. He is a web developer himself and sends me his scripting / programming work.

I'm focusing heavily on building a new business, I'm about to be a father, and I am having difficulty keeping working days under 16 hours. In the meantime, the work he sends is growing steadily.

So, I've decided that I am going to have to stop working for this one last client. I tried getting an employee to handle the work, but I still end up doing most of it due to experience with the code, the language (non-english) etc.

All advice and opinions on this are welcome. I guess I feel quite guilty about this as the work I do for him is fairly integral to his business.

6:02 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Double or triple your current fee (citing the life changes you mentioned) and see what happens:

1. He drops you.
2. He accepts - you subcontract someone with some of the extra money.

6:08 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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bcolflesh, I know that your idea does make good business sense, however subcontracting this kind of task doesn't work well for me. I end up being far too involved. It's not the money which is an issue either... it's just the time and focus drift.

I think I'll write to him later and explain the situation honestly, but continue to work for a month or until he finds someone suitable. Does that seem fair, for a freelancer with no employment contract?

6:14 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Does that seem fair, for a freelancer with no employment contract?

More than fair - good luck.

6:41 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ask for a piece of the action.

If he has quite a good clientele you might consider some partnership

1:35 am on June 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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henry0, thanks for the advice, however I am not looking for any new business... the entire aim is to reduce and not increase business!
1:55 am on June 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If the work you do is really important to his business then why not cut it down to the essential stuff and charge more/hr. Or, you could charge him for time that your successor needs to get up to speed (at a higher rate as it's a PITA to do handovers).

Explain that you need to reduce the time that you spend at work which means cutting back on the amount of time you can dedicate to work he sends you. I'm guessing that at least 50% of the stuff he sends could/should be done by someone else/cheaper and the rest of it is the essential stuff that you could/should be getting more per hour for.

Would cutting the workload in half work for you? If not it's handover time.

I'm in a similar position with several long-term clients and I've found it difficult to let them down, but you have to do what's best for yourself. Sure, do all you can to assist the transition but don't go too far. You are in the driving seat here, if he gets too demanding just walk away.

The real problem that I have (and probably you too) is the fact that I know their business intimately and understand what they mean without spending days speccing out stuff. You'll feel you are causing them pain if you stop doing the work, but you have to remember that they are responsible for their own business, not you. They should have tied up long term contracts with key suppliers like you. They should have contingency plans, what happens if you were to be taken ill and unable to do work for them?

Do the right thing...

...for yourself, in doing that you'll do the right thing for your client (in the long run - their short term pain will make them plan better in the future)

 

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