How to Get Out of A Project With Grace

 Sometimes you need to get out of a project.  In this article I tell you how to do so with grace and poise. 

 

Sometimes you begin a project and a few weeks or months down the road you realize this isn't the project for you.  Something isn't right, maybe there are red flags, maybe you have too much on your plate, maybe the client is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  There are many great reasons that you should get out of a project.  And it is perfectly okay to get out of a project.  But, getting out of a project shouldn't be a decision taken lightly.  You want to honor your commitments, just not at the expense of your personal well-being.  

It's best to get out before things get worse and as everyone who has stayed in a relationship that is not working knows, it rarely (if ever) gets better.  If you are asking yourself if you should get out of the project, you probably should.  Remember, I don't know your situation, use your own best judgment if you must get out of a project.  Also, consider consulting a lawyer if you think your client could contest your decision.

It is important to have a clause in your contract that details how either party can get out of the project and if there are disputes.  This is the number one step in getting out of the project, making sure you're in the clear contractually.  You don't want to lie to the client, you may not want to give them the whole truth (like they're crazy), but don't fabricate anything.  Most of the time you may want to pick up the phone after sending your break-up-email, it's more professional and more personal.  

A few months ago I posted the article How to Turn Down a Project so if you can turn down a project before ever doing any work, it is much easier.  

Personal Reasons Script

Hi Client, 

First, I want to say thank you for the opportunity to work on this project with you.  Due to unexpected personal reasons, I am going to have to bow out of this project effective (immediately/end of the month/in two weeks).  I did not take this decision lightly and hate to leave clients disappointed.  If there was another option I would not be writing this letter, as I take my commitments very seriously.  

Optional: Further explanation of personal reason.  

I recognize that it’s short notice, therefore, I have enclosed three other options for designers and their contact information. (Enclose list)  To help the transition I can be available before (end of month, next two weeks, December) to bring your new designer up to speed.

Thanks for your understanding and support, below is a list what you can expect from me between now and (tomorrow/end of month/two weeks).  I want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Optional: (This should be based on your contract) Complete and pending orders.  Issue refunds for unused funds.  Send final invoice.  Return deposit.

Sincerely, Your Name

Project Timeline Changed

Hi Client, 

Thank you for the opportunity to work on this project with you.  After careful review, we feel that we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project moving forward.  When we accepted this project, the timeline was much different.  The initial discussions we had with you and the contractor were that this project would be done (in two weeks, next year, over 4 years, by Christmas).  With our current schedule and the unforeseen additional time required on this project, we feel that it is best to withdraw from further work effective (immediately/end of the month/in two weeks).

Optional (give referrals): I am enclosing a few names of other designers that may be able to take on a project with your scope right now.  

Optional (waitlist): Our schedule for a project of your size is opening in X months.  If you'd like to wait until our schedule opens up for this new timeline please let us know by Friday. (Good idea to also require a non-refundable deposit to hold the spot.)

Thanks for your understanding, below is a list what you can expect from our offices between now and (tomorrow/end of month/two weeks).  I want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Optional: (This should be based on your contract) Complete and pending orders.  Issue refunds for unused funds.  Send final invoice.  Return deposit.

Sincerely, Your Name

Aesthetic differences script

Hi Client, 

After much thought and consideration, we feel that the aesthetic of your project is outside of the scope of what we can do at this time and are letting you know we withdraw from this project effective (immediately/end of the month/in two weeks/December 31st).

Despite discussions at the start of this project to the contrary, I can see you're looking for (contemporary/traditional/remodel/loft/etc), which is not our firm's area of expertise.  We do (interiors/new builds/remodels/lofts) that are (design firm aesthetic).  Because we want you to have the home that you desire, we feel that you'd be better off with another firm that excels in the style you're looking for.  

Optional (give referrals): I am enclosing a few names of other designers that may be a better fit for your project.  (enclose names)

Thanks for your understanding, below is a list what you can expect from our offices between now and (tomorrow/end of month/two weeks).  I want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Optional: (This should be based on your contract) Complete and pending orders.  Issue refunds for unused funds.  Send final invoice.  Return deposit.

Sincerely, Designer

Client with red flags script

Hi Client, 

A home project is very personal and it has become apparent to me that another design firm would be a better fit for you and your specific project needs.  This is not a decision that we take lightly, but after careful review, we believe that it is the best one for both parties.  Effective  (immediately/end of the month/in two weeks/December 31st) we will no longer be working on your project.  We wouldn't be comfortable continuing work knowing that we're not the right designer for this project.

Thanks for your understanding, below is a list what you can expect from our offices between now and (tomorrow/end of month/two weeks).

Optional: (This should be based on your contract) Complete and pending orders.  Issue refunds for unused funds.  Send final invoice.  Return deposit.

 I want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project.

Sincerely, Designer

Project Different from Expectations

Hi Client, 

Thank you for the opportunity to work on this project with you.  After careful consideration, we feel that we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project moving forward.   

From what you communicated at the beginning of this project (this project would have a much bigger budget/ we'd have more creative control/ you liked our style/ had a contractor).  We have carefully reviewed all work and communication and are unable to find a way to work together that will be beneficial for both sides.  

A home project is very personal and we believe that you will benefit from working with another designer.  Below is a list what you can expect from our offices between now and (tomorrow/end of month/two weeks).

Optional: (This should be based on your contract) Complete and pending orders.  Issue refunds for unused funds.  Send final invoice.  Return deposit.

Sincerely, Your Name

Your turn!  Ever had to fire a client?