Small Business Tips

How to bounce back after losing a client

Manasa Reddigari

Losing a client, small or major, can strike a serious blow to your confidence in the moment. With time, perspective and these tips, you can turn the temporary setback into success. Here are six tips on how to bounce back after losing a client.

Solicit feedback

Business owners who don't know the reason for their dismissal often assume the worst. They may imagine their work wasn't up to quality standards or that they did or said something to lose favor with the client. But these scenarios represent a fraction of the many possible reasons for the ending of a business relationship.

Many client relationships end for no fault of your own. A client may no longer have the budget or need for the service you provide. In other cases, the business itself may be undergoing a merger, acquisition or dissolution. The only way to learn the truth is to ask the client if he would be willing to discuss the termination with you.

Most clients with whom you have had an ongoing relationship should be more than happy to oblige. Be open to their feedback. Take any constructive criticism to heart when working with future clients.

Attempt to re-establish ties

Getting a "goodbye" from a client today doesn't mean you've lost that client for good. If the feedback you received was that you need to make a change, find out if they would be willing to continue working with you if you made that change.

Demonstrating a willingness to adapt can go a long way in re-establishing a business relationship. Was your dismissal related to a period of uncertainty in the client's own business? Find out if the client would be willing to work with you again and when you can contact them in the future to resume services.

Your client will appreciate your loyalty to them during a difficult time.

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Get a referral

If you left a business relationship on a high note, your client will usually be more than happy to write you a positive referral. If your client doesn't automatically offer a referral, be proactive and ask for one. Consider displaying referrals on your business website for maximum visibility.

Don't play the blame game

Losing a client might trigger a blame game internally wherein you or your staff members point the fault at each another for the termination. This is an unproductive plan of action. It will only further hurt internal morale.

A feedback session with the client may reveal problems or inefficiencies with your operational strategy. Try to look at these shortcomings rationally and objectively rather than emotionally.

Then, talk through them with your staff and develop a plan of action to fix them as quickly as possible. Taking a positive approach to process improvements will motivate your team to put their best foot forward in the future.

Hunt for new clients

The client you lost is not the only worthy client in your business niche. After getting your ducks in a row internally, you are in an ideal position to market your improved services to prospective new clients.

Did your former client give you a positive reference? Be sure to supply it to new clients who may be on the fence about starting a business relationship.

Diversify your revenue streams

Sometimes, losing a client can reveal that you were over-reliant on that client for a sizable portion of your revenue. Even as you go about finding a new client to replace the old, don't repeat the risky practice of putting all your eggs in one client's basket.

Take a regular inventory of all your clients to ensure that you can withstand the financial loss of any one of them.

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