How to Handle a Service Termination or Pause Request from a Client

May 02, 2022

Receiving a pause or service termination request from one of your clients can stop you in your tracks, especially if they want to stop services immediately. When that happens, it’s hard to know whether you should be strict on your boundaries regarding service terminations or if you should show grace and give your client some wiggle-room. Plus, there’s the question of contracts and how to navigate the pause amidst the various clauses in your agreement, too! 

Things can get messy quickly here. Read on for my best tips on how to handle the service pause or termination process in a way that works for your agency and protects your relationships with your clients!

What Should You Do When a Client Requests a Pause or Service Termination? 

As a PR pro, you know you can’t take a client’s pause or service termination request at face value and just move on. There’s a ton that you have to do before you can even think about stopping services! 

Find Out Their Why 

If a client wants to pause or terminate their services, there’s always a reason why. This goes double if you’ve been crushing it for them up until that point! 

Meet with your client and gently ask about the motivation behind their service termination request. 

Is funding an issue? What about a delay in an upcoming product launch? Is the company going through a difficult time right now?

Go deep and figure out their WHY behind the pause. From there, you can collaborate with them to find a solution that would allow you to continue services if possible (especially if the issue can easily be worked around!).

But if they truly do want to pause services regardless of a proposed solution, remember this: you and your client are partners first. You want to always be a good partner to them! Think about your long-term relationship with the client past this pause and stay on good terms—no burning bridges here! 

Get Your Finances in Order

Next up on the service termination checklist? Finances. 

No matter how quickly your client wants to pause or terminate services after submitting their request, you need to get paid for the work you’ve already done. Make sure you get that final payment prior to the pause. 

Once you have that payment in order, start planning for the loss of client revenue that will result from this pause or service termination. 

If funding is an issue for your client, see if you can consult them in some way for a reduced fee during the pause, or even in lieu of regular services. They may be open to it, and it never hurts to ask! 

As a PR pro, you know that service “stops-and-starts” are not the way to get results. But in the end, your relationship with each client matters more. Always be professional and respect their pause or service termination requests. 

Think of a Workaround

As you and your client move forward with the service termination process, think about what YOU can be doing for THEM during the pause. 

If their reasoning for the pause can be easily dealt with, propose a solution that would allow you to continue services while still respecting the underlying issue. Frame the offer as a way to continue your partnership and continue getting those PR wins as your client works out what’s going on behind the scenes. 

You could even give your client a set timeframe for the pause. Maybe a three month pause is your best option! Once the time is up, everyone can come together to evaluate the situation and decide if services should start up again or be fully cancelled. 

Think about what’s best for you, but also what’s best for your client. It’s all about the partnership! 

Related: Do You Struggle With Meeting Client Expectations? Here's What to Do

How Do You Prevent an Unexpected Pause or Service Termination Request? 

One of the most important parts of building a successful agency is keeping your clients in the door. Service terminations happen, of course, but as a PR pro, you want to do everything in your power to prevent a sudden pause request. 

There are two key steps you need to take before you sign a client that can help you avoid those unexpected service termination requests in the future.  

Add a Service Termination Clause to Your Contracts

Contracts are your best friends! Every PR pro needs a clause in their contracts that protects them against unexpected service terminations and pauses. Be sure to include a specific time frame (usually 30 days) in which a client must notify you if they need to pause or terminate services prior to the actual service termination. 

Trust me - it’s always a good idea to have a clause in place to protect yourself and your agency! It can save you major headaches down the road, and can help preserve your relationships with clients who choose to pause or terminate services. 

But…just because you have that clause in your contract doesn’t mean you have to stick to it (sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me here!). 

Look at every pause or service termination request on a case-by-case basis and work to truly understand your client’s reasoning behind the pause. You can fall back on your contract and enforce those boundaries if you need to, but it’s also super important to approach these tough situations with understanding, kindness, and grace. Treating people well always comes back to you tenfold!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: at the end of the day, you and your client are partners. Going into this situation with empathy shows how much you respect and care about your client. You may lose a client, but you’ll keep a strong relationship no matter what. 

Always Vet Your Clients! 

Vetting your clients is one of the most important things you can do as an agency owner, period! But it’s extra important that you vet your clients to help avoid unexpected pause and service termination requests.

Just because a client wants to work with you doesn’t mean you automatically have to say yes. Honestly, you shouldn’t say yes to every prospective client that comes knocking at your door! Thoroughly vetting your clients is the key to working with partners that respect and trust you and will honor your work. 

If sudden service pause and termination requests are coming up frequently in your agency, that might be an indicator that you’re not working with the clients who are right for you. Maybe you need to niche down, raise your prices, adjust your target ideal client, or bulk up your vetting process. 

High-end clients are so much less likely to have billing issues or request an immediate pause or termination in services. They truly are a different caliber of client - and doing the work to properly vet your clients prior to working with them is the key to bringing on more high-end partners. 

Working with high-end clients is the dream…but what if you had the exact roadmap to make it happen? Inside my signature program The Agency Accelerator, you get my tried-and-true, proven success framework, including how to build your confidence, charge what you’re worth, vet your clients, and so much more. 

An immediate pause or service termination request from a client doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks - and it doesn’t have to be your norm! Taking the time to protect yourself from these unexpected requests is just as important as taking the time to understand where your client’s request is coming from. Keeping your partnership and relationship intact is the key to navigating client service pause and termination requests with ease.