How to Say No to Prospective Clients for Your Contracting Business

Although landing a client and a new project is a great thing, sometimes it just isn’t going to work. There will be points where you’re too busy to take on the job within the time specified. There will also be clients proposing opportunities that just aren’t the right fit for your contracting business. Learning how to decline these projects is a skill, and it can be difficult to do at first. Here are a few ideas.

Decide If It’s No, or Just Not Right Now
The first thing you should do is qualify the nature of your answer. In some cases, a project simply won’t work for your contracting business. These opportunities could cost you money if you try to make them fit, so it is easier to simply decline. In other cases, the projects may be appropriate under different terms. It’s important to confirm that you know where you’re going with your answer before you give it. That way, if you want to leave the door open to negotiation, you can save the opportunity for a later date. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to secure different terms with the same client, but it may be worth asking.

Decline at a Good Time
As with other types of business communications, there are better times to make tough decisions, and there are worse times. The last thing that you want to do is decline an offer when you are feeling tired, overworked or frustrated. Saying no during a bad moment may make you come off more negatively than you expected. If it’s an existing client or colleague that you’d like to continue working with, you should hold off until you have an opportunity to think clearly and communicate professionally. It’s not necessary to wait days for the chance to decline a project. However, making sure that you’re in the right headspace will help you protect those professional ties.

Be Clear About Why You’re Declining
When you know that you’re going to say no, the best thing that you can do is make it clear and simple to understand. If you are rejecting the offer because you don’t want to work with the client, it’s more practical to say that your business isn’t a good fit for their needs. This sends a clear message to the client that you are unlikely to accept future work from them. On the other hand, if you’re declining because the rate is too low or the timing doesn’t work for you, you can outline these in your rejection. This can give the client the opportunity to change their offer, in the hopes that they can secure your services.

Aim for a Professional Tone
Part of running a contracting business involves learning how to maintain professional communication, even when the news you have to share isn’t good. Clients may take your rejection with grace, or they may react to it with anger. In some cases, their reaction will confirm for you that it was a wise decision not to accept the work. And yet, it’s better not to descend to their level, especially if they start showing obvious signs of frustration. Such behavior rarely leads to good things for your business. Avoid saying anything you wouldn’t want one of your mentors to read aloud to you.

Know When to Continue Negotiation
Although some clients may get irritated when you tell them that you can’t take on the project, others will react by trying to negotiate. Negotiation is another skill that can help support your business, but you need to know the right time to engage in it. If you’ve decided that you are not going to take on the project no matter what the client offers, there’s little point in negotiation. All it would do in that case is waste your time. But if the project is appropriate and interesting to you, negotiating might be the key to getting the terms to a level that you would accept.

When you run a contracting business, learning how to say no is just as important as saying yes. To get started building your construction career, contact CSLS today!

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