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My Client Wants To Cancel – How Do I Keep Them On?

As a freelancer, the dream really is to have too much work, nay, to be flooded with work. We want to harness the privilege to say no – to “cherry pick” if you will – rather than cling on to any paid opportunity that comes our way. Unfortunately that’s not the case 100% of the time. Client cancellations happen and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure! Here are some tips on how to handle these types of situations. 

Contracts

Ok so, if you have both signed a contract and the client cancels mid project, you’ll definitely be able to sort this out and either see the project through or receive a buyout pay. If, however, the client cancels mid project without any agreement or contract being signed then you may be in quite a sticky situation. If you have found yourself in this situation, ensure that a client always signs an agreement and/or contract when signing on board a project. The contract should cover the following to protect yourself in future; 

  • Giving notice. Does your client want to bail two days before a deadline? Or are they giving you the required two weeks’ notice for cancelling?
  • Pay. Is there a clause that says they have to pay up for any work you’ve already provided?
  • Final deliverables. What does your client receive in the event of cancellation?

I have no contract!

If, however, this situation has already arisen and you’re right in the middle, we suggest you try and solve the issue so as to not lose the client. Ask them transparently what they wish to change and what elements of the project they take issue with. This is ideally over zoom or email. Clarify that you have understood these queries and issues and will do your best to eliminate them. Perhaps even bringing an extra freelancer on board and sharing the budget if that fits and eases the tension as well as halves the workload. 

Sometimes, most unfortunately, we can’t keep them on

Clients are still, sometimes surprisingly, just human. In the same way that we can’t expect everyone to like us personally, not everyone will work well with the way we carry out our professional work. Handling cancellations with a cool head is part of good client management. Just one of the many hats you probably wear as an Independent business owner. 

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