No one wants to lose a high paying long term client but it will happen to everyone eventually. How I recovered from it and how you can recover too.
You can be tempted to think that losing a client is your fault, but that may not be the case always. You can lose clients without any fault on your end and could be because
- Client may no longer need what you are best at.
- Client moves to another project or technology.
- Client limits budget for the current project.
And if those clients are long term client, you can have an adverse effect on your earnings.
Losing clients is normal
No one wants to be in a situation to lose a high paying client, but the fact is, it will happen to everyone eventually.
I have over a decade of freelancing experience with hundreds of projects delivered successfully and recently I lost (or I see it as we parted ways) a big client where we were working for a couple of years together with almost 30 hours per week billed regularly.
I was developing functionalities which were getting towards the finishing line and new requirements that were in the pipeline was not something I would love doing.
If you are doing things you don’t love, it could be tough for you to keep going and so was the case with me. We then had to part ways.
You have to realize that you will never have a client who will need your services till you are on your death bed. And even if you find such client, you will never be able to serve them for the rest of your life for various reasons.
Steps to Recovery From Lost Client’s
Knowing why you lost a long term client is important but more important is what you do after you lost a long term client.
So let me share with you what you should be doing after you have lost your long term client.
1. Learn from earlier mistakes
Everything is a learning experience and losing a long term client has to be a learning experience for any freelancer to become a better freelancer.
Let me share my first long term client’s story where I had done awful mistakes regarding my hourly rate but it was a learning experience.
Back then I believed it is not good to increase hourly rates for an existing client. So I increased my hourly rates for my other short term clients but not for my long term client. Soon the hourly rates I was charging my long term client were half of what I was charging new clients.
I had to let my long term client know about an increase in my hourly rates but now the increase would be too sharp for him to digest.
An increase in the hourly rate was abrupt and so work load from the client reduced over time. It happened because I did not increase my hourly rates when I should have been.
Lost a good client but it also helps me to learn a big lesson that you should increase hourly rates in small tranches.
Now, I always keep my hourly rate consistent for new and existing clients.
2. Opportunity to new technologies
Once you lose a long term client, you will be tempted to replace the lost client with new clients in the same technology by showing your expertise but this is the time when you can move to other technologies which can provide better opportunities in the long term.
I was working in vBulletin for quite sometime for many of my clients but I always wanted to move to xenForo and other technologies but if your biggest client wants you to be working on vBulletin, you have no choice.
Once we parted ways, I focused on working on anything but vBulletin.
Started a course on Udemy for iOS development which has helped me learn new technology as of now and can take up something in the future.
Apart from being a developer I am also focusing on moving from a hobby blogger who blogs at random to a pro blogger with writing targets on a weekly basis.
3. Develop a pipeline
Once you have a big client, normally you tend to become relaxed assuming you will always have to work from this big clients, but you need a backup plan more now because of the relaxed approach.
As I was working for a long term client, I was too relaxed to have any backup plan or clients in the pipeline. As the development from the client was near its finishing line, I was not ready to accept that there will be no new requirement from this client.
There was new requirement but it was not something I would love doing but then I was not willing to move on because it was easy going for me. It took me almost 2 to 3 months to actually move on.
The lesson that I learnt was to have more than one client. I don’t work only for one client anymore and take up other small projects more actively than I used to do it in the past.
Having one point of failure can prove fatal and only one client can lead to horror stories.
4. Increase marketing efforts
You can lose big clients overnight but more often you will get the feeling about something is to happen and you can start your marketing efforts as soon as you can sense it and not when things actually happen.
By marketing I don’t mean you should start Google Adwords or Facebook ads but what I mean is you can start looking for clients in your network and build relationships with potential clients or even email your existing clients about you being available for work.
If you build relationships with existing clients over time, you will have lot of clients you can contact and ask for work. Drop an email about your availability if they need it and there is no harm in doing so. It’s always good to be asking for work than starving for work.
Things worked before this client
There was business before this big client and there will be opportunities after. It is you who is the most important part of your freelancing business and not the client you just lost. If you can find that big client once, you can do it more than once.
Remember: There was business before this big client and there will be opportunities after.
Over to you
Did you lose a major client? What did you do when you lost a major client? Why you lost the client and what did you learn out of it?
Further Reading …