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Best Threads: Parting Ways With A Client

Searching for the most professional way to distance yourself from an unprofessional client.

Editor’s Note: Here’s an interesting thread from the PSW Live Audio Board (LAB) forums. It’s lightly edited for grammar and formatting. Enjoy.

Posted by Keith

I work as a sub contractor for a local AV company once in a while. The shows I have worked on are pretty much a complete PITA due to the lack of detailed info, and producer….er…..um… How shall I put this?… “qualifications.”

Also, the provided equipment is not well maintained and I don’t get competent help. I just don’t need the work bad enough to deal with the trouble these shows are. Maybe 20 years ago but not so much now.

So, the question is, do I explain that I no longer want to accept and work or do I just become “unavailable” when contacted for work?

Reply by Tim
Raise your day rate until it’s commensurate with the PITA factor. If they ask why you’re charging more you can tell them it’s to compensate you for the lack of professionalism on their part.

Reply by Dennis
Which part of this are the producers intentionally screwing up in all modern (since 1990) “popular”  recordings?  I’ve always referred to it as just “intentional digital distortion.” I hate it (yes, strong words), as it is impossible to make any of these recordings sound good on any PA.  All I’ve been able to do is try to make myself small and turn it down.

Reply by TJ
It’s unclear to me if the issue is with the AV company or the AV company’s client, but I would take Tim’s tack, but maybe a little softer: “Dear XYZ, I want to inform you that for any future work, my fee will now include $XXX of project management services, which better reflects the amount of time I need to invest to make your event a success. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

Reply by Riley
Charge what its worth to do the leg work required to bring their game up to snuff and let them know it. Either you build yourself a better client or do bad work with other people at the pointy end of their operations. I’d be more concerned with being tarred with that brush in the end.

Reply by Keith
There is no way I’m going to take a chance they will just pay the fee. I’m not prepared to do the legwork anyway. If there is one thing I have learned in 40+ years of this, it’s when to step away.

Just considering the best way to say “good bye and thanks for all the fish.”

Reply by Serena
I recently broke up with a client of 10 years, that always underpaid and wouldn’t budge on a price increase. I gave them plenty of notice and told them “due to personal circumstances I am no longer available to work with them.” I also recommended some other companies (that I know will be too expensive for them).

They don’t need to know anything, except that you can’t work with them anymore.  If they don’t understand the value of the work you do after many years of providing quality work then you don’t owe them any explanation.

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Reply by Brian
Unless you have a reason to burn bridges, it’s usually wise to not do so. While you don’t need the work right now, what happens if situations change in your future?

Don’t just suddenly become unavailable. Tell them that you’ve currently got enough work, and are pulling back from the subcontracting thing due to that. If they need you in the future, they are free to hire you at your regular market rate, with your own gear.

It’s OK to stop offering services that are not profitable enough for you as you grow and move on.  Either the customer is willing to pay for the better level of service that you now provide, or they are not. You can’t continue to offer services to lower level clients as you continue to grow.

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