Is it Time to Terminate? – Top Ten Reasons To Let Clients Go

Are you thinking it might be time to terminate a client?  Believe me, I understand!  I know what it’s like to feel like something is just not working out with a client.  

All too many times I feel as though I have held on to a client long past the time I should have set them free.  It can be really hard to let go of a client when your enrollment is low and you need the income.  But what we providers should consider is that it can be even more costly to retain a client that is not a good fit.

We are our business’ first line of defense

So today I want to not only give you encouragement but also the confidence to know that sometimes if it really isn’t “a good fit” you should catch and release that client.  

I’ve also included a really great HOW TO resource for providers who need a three-step process to terminate a client.  Let’s get into when and why you should consider that it might be time to terminate a childcare client.

When is it Time to Terminate?

Top Ten Reasons its Time to Terminate

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1. Late Tuition

I wanted to tackle this first.  Mostly because this is where infractions begin to expose themselves most often.  

If someone is not submitting their tuition fees on time and is routinely late, they are basically breaking their contract with the childcare, plain and simple.  

A childcare business cannot sustain without a consistent income.  

The reality is sometimes holding on to a client can be more costly than letting them go!  

Sometimes holding on to a client can be more costly than letting them go!

Set a specific time for when payments are due, issue late fees and set a limit as to how many times payments will be received late.  If that doesn’t work – Time to Terminate.

2. Late pick-ups

Another biggie!  And another contract infraction.

I encourage parents to stick to their contracted time by enforcing a strict 9-hour care limit.  Anything beyond 9 hours is overtime.  

Sometimes I do get push-back, but once I realized that I was actually working an 11 hour day (just with the kids) and that most people work only an 8 hour day, I had the confidence to point out to parents my day is much longer than theirs.

Another issue to consider is that most licensing agencies require that the provider maintains certain adult-to-child ratios.  

If you have a larger license it can be very difficult to stay within the mandated ratios if you don’t know who will be there and when.  

At the very least have parents stick to their agreed to times.  If they consistently break that – Time to Terminate.

RULES ARE RULES!

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3. Constant negotiation

Do you feel like you are in constant negotiation with a client?  Do you have someone who is consistently asking for special favors or for you to bend the rules?  

It is important for providers to remember that our policies and procedures are in place for a reason.  Usually, they are to either stay in compliance with licensing mandates or are specific to the needs of your childcare business.

Either way, rules are rules!  

No one knows how much work it takes to run your business more than you.  So I would encourage you to shut down the negotiations and enforce your rules or you guessed it – Time to Terminate.

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4. Frustration

At the end of the week do you constantly feel drained by a certain child or family?  

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I have had clients where communications with them left me upset most of the time.  It just felt like one confrontation after another.  I mean I was having nightmares about dealing with this family.  

Finally, I realized that the relationship was such a struggle that it wasn’t worth it for me (or my business) to continue.  I decided to forgo the frustration and it was – Time to Terminate.

5. Out of Scope

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague of mine where she expressed concerns as to whether she should consider terminating a client.  She suspected that the child may have an undiagnosed disorder and it was making her day very difficult.  I encouraged her to reach out for certain community resources.  

Ultimately we discussed that even though she loved the family it might be out of the scope of her childcare to care for the child moving forward.

It is important to realize that we might very well be doing a child or family a disservice by continuing in a relationship that does not seem to be working.  It’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole.  

It just doesn’t work.  

Like in the case with my friend, the child might be better served if they were in another environment.  If that is the case it is ok and it’s – Time to Terminate.

6. Taking away from the other kids

In the last example, my friend was faced with a certain child that was not only constantly causing disruption at the childcare but was also taking her time away from the other children.  

That is another thing to consider.  

Just as we have to try to get parents to understand that we have several children under our care, we need to remember that as well.  We cannot just focus on one child all day.

Although it seems a bit crass, at some point every child has to be “another child at the childcare”.  This is not to say that you don’t truly care for each and every child.  It is to say that you have several individual children to care for and they all deserve equal care and attention.  

If you find that you constantly have one child (or family) that is requiring you to drain all of your effort and attention it just might be – Time to Terminate.

7. Abusing your policies

If you find that a certain client is constantly abusing your policies you should think about whether it is worth it to retain them.  

That is not to say that the business relationship cannot be mended.  And for as hard as it is to get new clients, you should definitely try to maintain clients.  

What I am saying is to proceed with caution!

If a parent is willing to disregard one policy they will probably have the same regard for other policies as well.  Some people just want things their way.  

Remember you are the person with the business and license that can be cited if you are found to be out of compliance with regulations.  So if they are habitual abusers its – Time to Terminate.

8. Bad Talk

I hope this is kinda a no-brainer.  

Our businesses rely heavily on word of mouth.  That being said, you should not even want to keep a client that is disrespectful of you or your business.

Your reputation is on the line.  

If you find that a client is bad talking about you or your business without a doubt it’s – Time to Terminate.

9. Polar Opposites

Even though you probably discuss your philosophy during your initial meeting with parents, you may find that at some point there are actually differences in opinions.  

Some parents have an erroneous expectation of what the role of a childcare provider is.  Other parents may be intimidated by the very thought of someone spending more time with their child than they do.  And still, others see the provider in a nanny or babysitter role.  

It can be an uphill battle if you suddenly find you are on a different page than your client.

At times a conversation with the client might alleviate concerns on both sides.  But if there still remains a tension between the provider and parent – Time to Terminate.

10.  Won’t Provide for Child’s Needs

Hopefully, you will not run into this problem regularly, but I have on occasion had a parent who would not provide for their child’s needs at the childcare.  

Once I had a parent who did not prepare the child for bottle feeding before starting.  The baby would not take the bottle for a full 12 hours.  It was a miserable day!  Another time the same parent refused to purchase new nipples to replace worn-out ones for the baby’s bottle.  

I know!  That one was hard for me to believe too.

Anyway, if you do happen to run into this “special type” of parent it might just be – Time to Terminate.

Related Reading:

It might be Time to Terminate

I know that it can be hard to accept that some children and families just might not be a good fit for your business.  But just like there are expiration dates on foods, sometimes there are expiration dates on clients too.

Here is a great post by Tom Copeland.  He gives a simple three-step procedure for terminating a parent contract.

What do you think?  Have you ever had to terminate a client?  It would absolutely make my day if you would leave me a comment below and tell me why.

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I needed this!! I’ve been debating on terminating a client and everything you said hit home like a rock. It’s time, as much as it might stink to do so, it is time. Thank you again!

    1. You are so right Adria! Terminating a client can be hard at times. As business owners, we need to remember that it can be harder not terminating when we know it’s time. Thanks so much for the comment!

  2. I literally just 5 minutes ago had to make a decision to term a client. Reason: dishonesty (lying) from the start. Tried to help by offering a reduced rate. My life cannot be held captive by their decisions.

    1. Andrea, you are so right! I once heard a provider say that her clients were trying to make their life decisions her problems. Sometimes as providers it is harder to keep a bad fit client than is worth all the effort. Instead, we need to make sound decisions for our business. Thanks so much for the comment!

  3. My director/co-owner usually handles the termination of clients and I do the letters to send out this is going to be my first termination and it needs to be done immediately. I don’t like confrontation and I know this family is going to cause all types of hell. Within the last week too many issues have arose and what broke the camels back with them bringing their child in with a contagious disease and refusing to pick up immediately. Let alone the contract is with the mom however we only see the aunt. I get anxiety when I have to talk to people on bad terms and I’m just not comfortable. Is it unprofessional to term via email?

    1. You are so right! It can be so uncomfortable having to address difficult issues with parents. It’s great that you have another person to handle terminations when that is what needs to happen. As far as termination through email, I don’t necessarily think it is wrong or unprofessional. It would be just like sending or handing them a termination letter. It also provides a paper trail for when and why the termination was executed. Thanks so much for your comment!

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