All I can say right now, is thank goodness it is fall and almost winter. Why? Well because a couple of weeks ago I had our “professional” landscaping company come into my office and tell me they have shut doors and are not doing any more work, for anyone.
“What do you mean, ‘no work’? You’ve stopped marketing and taking on new business?”
“No, we are no longer providing service to anyone. No mowing, no sprinkler repairs, nothing.”
This was a conversation had after they just promised that all of our sprinkler issues were going to be resolved. That our bush trimming was going to be happening that week and all was on the up and up. I guess not.
There are never any fun ways to end a professional relationship. Here are a few ideas on how to possibly get through that difficult time.
Don’t Let Rumors Start
Whether you are planning on selling a business, shutting down a business or bringing on a new partner/account, keep it private until it happens. Speculations from the masses only leads to misinformation and anxiety. Throughout the entire summer we knew the company was on rough waters. Honestly, I should have explored alternative options at that point (point remembered). I wanted to give the trust and respect I would want, in return for completion of the contract. Oops.
Even if this company did not shut doors this year, we already made a decision to move on next year. We didn’t want to be a part of drama. So keep your dirty secrets private until they are final and a decision has been solidified.
Give Ample Notice
Unless you are planning on leaving the state, you MUST end professional relationships well. Although you may be done with one business venture, you still have to work don’t you? Well, reputation in business is key. Don’t burn bridges by quitting on a partner/contract/relationship without providing the client with the opportunity to get their ducks in a row. You don’t have to promise the world, your business is closing after all, I’m guessing there is limited abilities to perform anyways.
Problem solve the best you can. Even suggesting “we are closing up shop in a week, here are 2 companies we have contacted that would be willing to pick up our contract and finish the job. We will be here to help the transition, but cannot commit more than 2 weeks to help that as we’ve accepted jobs elsewhere.” I don’t think that is too much to ask for and in reality you will garner so much respect and trust going forward. You already created a problem, now help try and solve it.
Leave the Emotion at the Door – Be Professional
I wanted to to start name calling, telling him how unprofessional he was being and rattle on. I didn’t. Ultimately all I was being told was how sorry he was, how this isn’t easy on anyone ‘blah, blah, blah’. I don’t want to hear a sob story or how sorry you are. Words mean nothing to me at this point. All I want to see is your actions. All anyone wants to see is action. As stated above, tell me how sorry you are by helping me transition to someone else. I am not going to all of a sudden give a crying shoulder because this was hard on him. You need to take the responsibility of finishing this relationship as professional as you started it, by following through with your promises.
If there is money still owed or work that is half finished, be upfront and honest. Don’t send an invoice to a now, former client, two weeks after telling the company to “f” off. Is your company in the middle of a project that was time sensitive? Inform the client where you were, how far along and what yet needs to be done. Considering the atmosphere in the room, it may be best to have a letter drawn up outlining these and any other important details for the client to have the best chance of succeeding moving forward.
Closing a business or ending a relationship is never the intent when starting. It happens. Business revenue dries up, relationships crumble, life desires change. It is of utmost importance, if you care about your professional reputation and image to end these situations the best way possible.