It’s Okay to Say No. How to Handle Client Requests Out-of-Scope Work or Support

Karen Repoli
4 min readJun 5, 2022
out of scope work

It’s Okay to Say No. How to Handle Client Requests Out-of-Scope Work or Support

June 5, 2022

I discussed the importance of setting boundaries with your clients in an earlier post. But there’s another kind of boundary issue: clients constantly requesting services and support that are outside of the scope of your original contract. This can quickly become a problem if not addressed promptly.

It’s okay to say “No.”

First, you are NOT required to do everything every client asks of you. This is a mistake new entrepreneurs often make and it can quickly spiral out of control. This is YOUR business. It is up to you to choose how to operate it.

Most importantly, and something many entrepreneurs struggle with, it is perfectly acceptable to tell clients “No.” Especially when they are asking for things you never agreed to do.

How you say “No” can make all the difference in the world, however. It may even help your client realize the error of his or her ways and try a different approach in the future.

How can you respond when clients ask for more?

price service

Solution 1: Attach a Price to the Request

You have a few options to consider. Including one of my personal favorites, “I’d be happy to do this for a fee of $X.”

Make sure to make it a memorable fee if it is something you are willing, but not eager, to do. You also have the option of setting a ridiculous fee if it is something you have absolutely no interest in doing.

Your time, talent, and knowledge have value. Don’t sell yourself short by giving away any of those precious resources for FREE! Not only does that do nothing to build your business. It also sets a bad example for people who are looking to you for advice on how to build their businesses. Plus, it shows clients who are trying to get something for nothing, that you are a smart business person and not willing to sell yourself short.

Solution 2: Refer Client to Original Contract Terms

The sooner you do this, the better it is for your business. I suggest referring clients to the original contract the FIRST time they ask for something outside of your contract terms. This helps to avoid setting an unintended precedence of giving in to “freebie extras” with your client.

If the client is consistently asking you for certain things every month, consider renegotiating the entire contract at this point. This includes a new price point and can be instrumental in lengthening the contract you have with clients, which is good for your business — as long as you are willing to do the additional work requested of you.

Solution 3: Refer the Client to Someone Else for Out-of-Scope Tasks

This solution carries the greatest risk to you and you might only wish to consider if you are completely disinterested in providing the level of service the client is requesting or do not have the time available to manage the request.


On the other hand, it can be a stark reminder to the client that they are making inappropriate demands for your time and attention. Plus, it allows you to promote colleagues whom you admire. I like this option if you have a strong network of associates, despite the potential risks it may represent.

Often, the colleagues you recommend will return the favor when facing similar situations with mismatched clients who might flourish more with your style and approach. With the greater risk, comes the potential for even greater reward.

The point you need to remember in all of this is that you should never consent to do work you aren’t comfortable with, aren’t being properly compensated for, or have not agreed to do for your clients. These subtle and not-so-subtle reminders will help keep your clients in line while ensuring you aren’t allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

Karen Repoli

As the owner of a successful business, I’ve developed a process to solve every business challenge you’re facing. From systems to marketing and everything in between, I’ve got you covered.

I use a curriculum-based approach with situational coaching. We will brainstorm about your unique business situations. You receive practical advice to overcome the challenges of starting and maintaining a business combined with accountability and guidance.

I currently have a very limited space for new consulting clients. Please contact me for availability.

business managementclient relationsdealing with difficult clientsdifficult cliententrepreneurship



Karen Repoli

Business Strategist passionate about helping motivated entrepreneurs.