Handling clients: My goodbye email to a client

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In 2011 I, was trying to establish my own business and to build my own company (Cecko’s Lab). I was taking baby steps and I was really bad at handling certain business situations. The “developer me” dominated the “entrepreneur me” and I cared more about to deliver “the best code ever”, but I was overlooking something very important – building / finding healthy business relationships.

In 2011, I convinced that I could handle situations if I could write quality code and at the same time handle continuous communication with clients. Well, when I look back I see that I had overestimated my capabilities. I lacked the maturity that I have now but when I look at the email archives I actually feel very happy how I’ve handled some clients.

Below I will share the “goodbye letter” that I sent to one of my first serious clients. The payments from this client were really good but I couldn’t handle the communication with him and he was a bit too much controlling for me. I tried to maintain strong business boundaries but after 1-2 weeks he found a way to violate them. After 3 months of working with him, I had a good amount of money but I was totally exhausted, and this was affecting my personal life, so I had to put an end to it!

I wanted to do it in professional way, so I read blog posts about “How to say goodbye to a client?”. What I understood was that I should be direct and point the most significant reasons why I wanted to stop working with particular client, to suggest how he or she could improve and if we were separating on good terms, then suggest somebody who could replace me.

My “goodbye letter” dated 21st of November 2011:

Hi CLIENT X,

I’ve decided to stop working with you after PROJECT Z is completed.

I don’t blame anybody but this is not the way I want to do business. So, accept everything below as business.

I have some reasons that I would like to share with you:

  • I can’t handle communicating with you and to coding at the same time. We agreed to use basecamp but last week you reported to me some issues via skype. That is the reason why during the last few days I’ve been offline in skype. I don’t know why you did it, probably you were too busy to create tickets / todos. I’ve complained many times that something like this distracts me from my work, but it looks like you don’t want to change.
  • We’ve already missed two deadlines (PROJECT Z and PROJECT X) and that is a clear signal that I can’t handle your requirements for speed and quality. For me it doesn’t make sense to continue, because probably we will miss the deadline for our next future project, too. It would be better if you find somebody who can deliver everything on time.
  • We worked one weekend and you told me that you are sending some of the tasks to DEVELOPER Y, I know that he is an employee of your company, but you gave the tasks to somebody else. I remember that this developer changed the core files and I reported that and mentioned the name of DEVELOPER Y. After that I saw my comment in basecamp but the name of DEVELOPER Y was removed. It is not my business to know why you did it but the fact that you are not transparent is suspicious.
  • I don’t like your comment about one of my lunch breaks. You said that it was too long for you. Sorry, but comments like this make me feel like a slave and I don’t like somebody treating me this way.
  • I don’t like how you provide client feedback to us (the developers). What happens now is that you create a ticket and after that I ask about the browser name and version. For sure, when there are some rendering issues, you can ask the client about the browser name, version, screen resolution, etc. at the beginning.

Some suggestions:

  • You can hire an in-house Magento developer who will help you meet the client’s requirements better.
  • Skype is not the best place to delegate tasks, basecamp is also not the perfect system. You can give http://www.activecollab.com a try. With Active Collab you can check at any one moment who is working on what.
  • From my point of view, you are a client who needs to work with a team or a freelancer who will provide you with strict guidelines and will be able to handle communication with you.

Because of the facts listed above, it’s obvious that we can’t work together.

If you have some feedback (criticism, suggestions, advices) feel free to share it.

Regards.

Your thoughts / questions?

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Tsvetan Stoychev

Tsvetan aka. Cecko is the founder of Cecko's Lab. He is Magento addicted since Magento CE 1.2.1.2 and has worked on over 30 Magento projects. At the moment he is in charge to take care about the money flow of the company, to keep constant communication with the clients and to keep the people in the office busy.

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