How to politely decline work?


Sep 23, 2010

Anyone have some good email script for declining work? I'm starting to come across more work that I just don't want anymore. Whether it be for staffing reasons, work load or it's just a tree that's I'm not into. I don't want to burn any bridges, so I'm looking for a good way to respond.

Any thoughts on this topic would be great.
I had a landscape architect who has given me a decent amount of work call to ask If I did work in the city. It's 80km away.
I thanked him for considering me but that it was a bit far and I didn't want to promise what I might not be able to deliver.
He was cool, he had another arb he could use, then a week later he called for a quote on another tree in my village.
Be polite and forthright.
I am really sorry but I am booked out 3 months. However, I can give you a couple reputable companies to call.
I am really sorry, but I am not taking on any new customers or projects at this time ..
This works only if you don’t have a reputation of being “The Guy” to use and they wait for you.
Easiest way put a massive number on it and tell them you are four months out, and if they wait the massive number makes it worth it.
But then again telling a potential customer point blank you are not interested is gratifying in its own right.
for the most part I feel out the customer and how they will react, generally I just say something to the extent of "this isnt the kind of work we normally do" or "id recommend calling a different company"

had one a while back, massive storm, trees on houses, guy has a 20ft maple sitting on his roof, I could almost drag it off by hand, he thinks its an emergency and wants it down ASAP, talking to him he didnt seem to know much of whats really going on, he wants me to bill insurance, then wants me to double the price so he gets another tree down for free, keep in mind the tree he wants done for free is 10X the size of the one he thinks is an "emergency"

I never called back, eventually he called me almost yelling asking when ill come get it off his house, I just told him im too busy and his job is both not an emergency but also illegal, he hung up (seriously, that phone slamming back down on the hook hurt), I blocked his number and forgot about him, seems to work good for me

I agree with Altissimus, polite or not you MUST get the point across, NEVER let there be a question, ive had to go back and do another half day of work for a guy because he thought he wanted one thing and actually wanted another

"cut all the green pines behind my shed down and into pieces my jeep can drag" we left (he was out of town), he comes back the next day wanting another pine (dead and brown) down, and all the trees cut into firewood "because my jeep cant drag those 10ft logs"

yikes, I told him id have a contract for him along with an invoice for the work, he refused unless I gave his attorney a copy, dude almost learned what its like to shovel 15 yards of chips off his front porch
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  • #9
I'm not too concerned about the odd new client. In those cases I will put a crazy number or simple let them know I don't have time in my schedule for the work. It's more when and contractor or municipality that I work for keeps sending me jobs and it starts to be too much or I simple don't want it. Those are the clients I worry about losing. To be blunt the help I have is just not to the standard I'd like for some of the crispy dead complicated stuff coming up.

There's been some good suggestions here to help me formulate some responses.
I work for a fairly large real-estate company/property management company, I get calls from them all the time for bids, out of probably 30 bids in the last year for them ive gotten 3 jobs, that doesnt cover fuel to run around town looking at them considering they were all smaller/cheaper jobs

I should shut up and read this thread I guess, gonna have to explain to the company that I wont keep doing bids when im at about an 85% lose rate, feels like im being used to put a number on the work so I can be underbid by a competitor
I had a call to remove a fallen oak tree from a garden 500m from my place. Would have been a great job.

I looked at it. 24m tall and about 3m circumference. 50+ metre drag and quite a few fruit trees and lilac to avoid in a beautiful garden.

I wanted to board it out and use an Avant to forward everything o the point where we can chip. He didn’t want chips on-site, some firewood and no machine access and wanted his garden to be immaculate .

I umm’d and arr’d for a while and decided I wasn’t about to spend a week in there killing the blokes helping me out. So in that point I will decline to quote as I will only do it if I could get machinery in there. I explained to him I have done similar; many times in London, often through a house, and at my age wasn’t prepared to do that kind of job again.

I passed it onto a mate who is gonna go in there with 4 guys a day for a week.

Good luck to him. The HO is unrealistic about the job. 4 guys trekking it out by hand is gonna do as much damage as an Avant, plus take twice as long.
Let your high price say no thank you.

Then add why you priced it high add something like we can do this all day long but our specialty is....
To qualify that statement, if it is a nasty removal that is easier to remove but requires a lot of man hours for clean up, etc - I'll put a high price on there and then tell them it is because I specialize in difficult/rigging situations, not in manpower and refer them to someone who does.
I'm not really qualified to offer advice on this, given my work history...but a lot of the justifications and excuses seem unnecessary to me. Why not just politely decline to make a bid at this time, thank them for considering you, and maybe offer a referral to someone else you think could do the work?
Exactement, I mean how difficult is it? You speak English don’t you?

Thanks but no thanks.
First. Remember. Thou shalt give no F*cks.
You cant save the world
Nor every tree
Nor do every job
Most aren't even emergencies.
Once you remove yourself from a compassionate stance to every call, it's easier....
If you don't need the work... then thou shalt give no......
Be nice and polite and detached.
Remember. If they called you first, they'll probably call you again later for something else if given a good solid referral.
If they did not call you first, they are shopping.
There are times I will even tell them I am booked out on estimates and bidding for the year. Inflation dictates that is too far out to be cost effective for my company.
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  • #21
I'm not really qualified to offer advice on this, given my work history...but a lot of the justifications and excuses seem unnecessary to me. Why not just politely decline to make a bid at this time, thank them for considering you, and maybe offer a referral to someone else you think could do the work?

This is essentially what I did. I am sure it will be fine as I have already gotten other jobs from them after politely declining.
It can be hard to do,I don't quote on any of the outlying Islands anymore unless it's for a old client.

I state " Due to the increase in fuel and road tolls a fee of 1200kr will be applied to the quote,refundable only if the job itself exceeds 9000 kr"

Nobody has taken me up on this in two years.
Yes. Long trip fees are a great discouragement. I go so far as to make them try and co-ordinate with other area residents and pay for lodging as well. They usually find someone more local.