Thanks, But No Thanks

Saying &flashquotNo&flashquot Nicely

Turning down a client or dissolving your relationship with a customer calls for great tact, lest they mark you as someone who is hard to do business with. Here are a few tips to consider when it's time to say "so long."

  • Try not to refuse outright or belittle the importance of the request. Instead, ask for time to review the terms and requirements before you give a legitimate reason for saying "no."
  • Respond to a request by saying you can't do it for the price they want.
  • Indicate that the needs of your current customers are a priority.
  • Inform customers on the "cut list" that you are trying to stay focused on your target market and provide products and services to customers that fit your niche.
  • If you can, in good conscience, recommend someone else who might be able to take them as a client.

Of course, try never to offend a customer. You could hurt your reputation. But by cutting the ties, you afford yourself and your staff extra time to tend to your most profitable customers and do a better job of attracting more of them. The ideal outcome for your business is eliminating a hazard that depletes your resources without giving profit and satisfaction back to you.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Thanks, But No Thanks.

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