Written by Adriana Marie, owner of AMCONYC.
After 10 years in the fashion world, I encountered my first client that didn’t pay their invoices, despite even numerous emails and friendly attempts to collect. I closed their account and sent them a disengagement letter to avoid any confusion.
While a formal disengagement letter is standard practice to effectively fire a client, it can be a challenge to maintain ones professionalism when honestly you’d rather scream,”I’m wasting way too much time pleading for your payments and acting like I actually believe your endless excuses,” or “you’re totally taking up all of my time and I have other clients who appreciate my efforts, thanks bye!”
Your best bet is to simply put the situation in the clearest terms possible, ie breach of contract, and call it a day. Should this happen to you, keep this list of what to include handy (and then call me for a virtual cheers and a hug).
What to include in a disengagement letter:
Re: Disengagement Letter
After you get through the easy part, the body of your letter is very important. I like to illustrate why I am terminating the agreement, what is owed due to their breach and a friendly “sayonara.” As a template, I use something along the lines of the following:
We are honored and pleased to have served you in connection with your PR and fashion show needs. Unfortunately, contrary to our agreement, you have not paid your invoices in full for the past several months. I enjoy working on your account, but you are consistently late with making payments while I continue to meet the goals and objectives of your account.
At this time, the outstanding and overdue fees and expenses total ($xxx.xx). My firm desires to continue our relationship through the end of the agreement but will not accept late payments or partial payments. Moreover, you expressly agreed that the fees would be paid. Out of respect for my time and for my other clients, I can no longer accommodate this type of relationship.
I strive to provide my clients with the best service possible and unfortunately I am no longer able to do that for you because of the consistent unpaid fees. We are closing our files for this matter and removing it from our active files list.
We always strive to meet the expectations of our clients on each individual matter that we handle for them. We thank you again for allowing us to help you with your PR need, we truly appreciate the opportunity.
It’s simple and to the point. I always include a monthly report for them so they can see all of the work that was executed, media secured and what’s pending, aka what they have to lose.
It’s tempting to continue these sorts of client relationships, in the hopes that they will one-day change, but trust me, it will continue to be a headache and will take time away from your currently amazing clients who can see their way toward paying an invoice. PR is not an easy job and most clients appreciate the work and effort put into their accounts, but it’s inevitable to get that one bad apple of the bunch. Make sure you are prepared!
Have you ever had to make the tough decision to fire a client? What was the determining factor and how did you handle it? Share your experiences by contacting me on Twitter!
Adriana Marie is the owner of AMCONYC, a PR and events agency with offices in New York and Miami. The agency specializes in fashion & beauty and producing well executed fashion shows & shopping events. Connect with her directly on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.