Picture this. You are a happy successful child care director.
You arrive to work Tuesday morning happy and ready to make a difference in the lives of your staff and your children. You greet several staff and parents as you walk to your office, you get settled in and are ready for a productive day.
Then it happens.
Your office administrator tells you that Mrs. PickyParent is on the phone wanting to talk to you.
Your smile fades, your heart races, you’d do anything to crawl under a rock at this very moment.
You think to yourself, “I should have run those errands this morning, and then I wouldn’t be here right now having to deal with this lady.”
Bottom line, this client has sucked the joy out of your work. She has you second-guessing the most basic of decisions and makes you and your staff nervous when she’s around. In fact, with as many complaints as she seems to have, you wonder why she chooses to stay enrolled at your school.
We all have them……that ONE client that has you wondering why you ever got into this business in the first place.
But WHY? Why do we keep these clients.
Why do we allow some clients to steal our joy and have us jumping through a gazillion unnecessary, frivolous hoops to keep them happy?
While it should be a huge concern of ours to provide a “WOW” experience to all of our clients, I am here to tell you that it is OK to FIRE a client once in a while.
If that client is truly not your ideal client you will BOTH be better off to part ways.
This person might be a truly horrible human being OR, s/he might just be a well-meaning, high maintenance person that wants the best for her child.
Either way, if s/he is criticizing and micromanaging everything you and your teachers do, to the point that she is causing you or your staff an extreme amount of stress, this family might not be the right fit for the culture and vision of your program.
It is ok (and healthy) to recognize that, and make the first move.
If you feel you have reasonably done everything you could to try to make this parent happy, meaning you’ve addressed small issues, have had several phone conversations, you’ve had a couple of one on one meetings, adjusted policies, waived fees, etc, and you are starting to feel like enough is enough, THIS is your clue that it is time to consider dismissing that family.
Depending on the circumstances, I would recommend giving the family a “two-week notice” to find other care. This way the family has some time to make alternate arrangements.
However, if the parent is angry or hostile, you have every right to terminate immediately.
The conversation with the parent should go something like this: “Hi Mrs. Smith. I want you to know that we’ve appreciated having little Jimmy enrolled in ABC Child Care for the past 5 months, however we’ve noticed that we don’t seem to be seeing eye to eye. In the many conversations we’ve had, it is clear to us that you are not happy with the care he is receiving or our program structure. We have tried to make adjustments and accommodations along the way, but at this point, we are really just feeling like we cannot provide the type of care you are looking for. We don’t want to leave you stranded, but we’d like you to find other care arrangements by X date. We don’t want you to leave on bad terms, but another type of program may be a better fit for your family.”
The parent may be relieved that you’ve pointed out what they’ve been thinking all along.
On the other hand, they may be shocked and beg you to reconsider, in which case you will have to determine whether or not you are willing to do that.
If you feel like you have one of these clients and you are not sure what to do, leave a comment below. We will respond to any questions you leave us.
We’ve all been there, and sometimes feedback from someone with an outside perspective can help give you clarity.
What are your thoughts on this topic?