Lessons Learned: What a Lost Client Really Tells You

Have you ever lost a client and thought your world was going to come crashing down?

In your mind, you start playing the blame game and wondering what you could have fixed? Or maybe, just maybe, you know the exact reason you lost the client and chalked it up to “shit happens”…

The good news/bad news is we’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.

But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.

Exit Interview

Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your coaching relationship. You’ll want to review:

  • The progress your client made
  • What specific advice or tools did not work for her
  • Any personality conflicts
  • Why she’s moving on

This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to her criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.

Be Honest With Yourself

One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when she signed up, or maybe not, but now that she has moved on, ask yourself:

  • What signs were there that she was not the right fit?
  • Why did you ignore any signs that were present?
  • How can you use that information to protect yourself from a less-than-ideal client in the future?

If you can identify a bad client/coach match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer her to another coach who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.


Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:

  • The schedule of calls/emails
  • The requirements for scheduling a call
  • Reporting requirements
  • Length of your contract

Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to get your wayward client back on track. Many coaching relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.

Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.

That’s why its important to make sure you have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place.

An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business. Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures.

SOPs are extremely popular in corporate environments.  And after working over 17 years in a corporate setting, making sure I have established workflows in place seemed like the natural thing to do.   My team and I have created SOPs for almost every aspect of my coaching and consulting businesses.  We are able to use them to handle every area and affectionally named them, “Project Kits”.

For the first time, I have decided to share my “Project Kits” with other service owners as an exclusive benefit for members of The Atelier™.  You can find out more at: https://www.kimmccarter.com/the-atelier.

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