When you started out doing business on your own, you probably accepted every job that came your way. The hope is that as you gain some traction and your name gets out, you start to get more calls than you can reasonably take. While this is a pretty great place to be, it can also create some sticky situations when you get requests for work you’d rather turn down. Here are some ways to turn down work you don’t want so you have more time to take the jobs you do want.

1.    Just say no.

There are a few red flags that may make you want to turn down a job. For one, it may be boring or require a skill set that you’re not interested in using. For another, it may be uncomfortable or downright disgusting. Sometimes, the job is ideal, but you can tell when talking to the customer that working with them is likely to be a nightmare.

As the guy in charge of your business, remember that you don’t have to take any job you don’t want. When you have the luxury of getting more requests for work than you can fit in your schedule, don’t feel guilty turning down jobs you don’t want. If you know someone else starting out who’d be willing to take these jobs, feel free to recommend them, but you’re not obligated to. Often, the best strategy is to be upfront and say, “Thanks for the inquiry. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to take this job at this time.” Customers much prefer an honest refusal up front than for you to string them along before finally saying no.

This holds true if you show up to provide an estimate and quickly realize that no amount of money would be worth the job that’s being asked. You don’t even have to provide an estimate if you’re not interested in the job. If you’re uncomfortable having this conversation in person, do it over an email or text after you’ve left.

2.    Raise your prices.

If you’re getting calls for jobs that you don’t want to take, it may be that your prices are too low. Compare your business to others in the area. Are you charging less than everyone else? Even if you’re not, the volume of calls speaks for itself. Raise your prices and you’ll be happier, and the customers willing to pay will still be happy with the work they get from you.

If you do give estimates on jobs you don’t particularly want to do, ask the price that will make it genuinely worth it for you, even if you’re sure the customer will think it’s too high. You may be surprised at what some people are willing to pay, though, so don’t do this unless you’re actually willing to do the job for the price you give.

3.    Schedule yourself out.

A long-term schedule is a good way to pace the work you get. You’re getting lots of calls now, but there may be slow months ahead. You should be doing your utmost to keep the jobs you do want and getting to them in a timely manner. If undesirable jobs come your way and you genuinely think you’ll need them for slow months ahead, tell customers something like, “I’ll have some availability in about six months, but I’ll call you sooner if my schedule opens up.” Be sure you only do this if you are willing to call them even if you don’t have the slow spell you expect. Again, you may be surprised at how long customers are willing to wait, and it would be highly unprofessional to never call after you said you would.

It may be worth it to schedule out estimates far in advance as well if you get the sense over the phone that the job might not be ideal. Impatient customers may find someone else in the meantime, and you’ll never have to deal with turning them down.

When you’re so busy that you’re turning down work, your business is in a good place. Focusing your time on the jobs you want will make you happier, and it will help your business grow in the right direction. So while you’re saying no, be sure to enjoy the success you’re having!

We love to hear from you. How do you tactfully turn down jobs you don’t want? Let us know in the comments!

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