I have just read an interesting article by Ken Reynolds under the title There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Client. His point is worth paying attention to, though I disagree with it, but what I would like to share now is a way to treat the bad client that does not exist with respect to every difficulty that Ken has brought to our attention.
Ken argues that generally if you see that this person can become pain in the a…, OK, a troublesome client, you should not let him become your client. But is there a way to take the client yet not let him become a pain in your soft spot? Lets see what can be done in the following situations:
Some people think that if you are a small freelancer they can delay the payment or forget about it. It is wrong. Before you take any client make sure that he understands everything regarding payment and all the obligations that you have and that lie on him. Easy as a piece of cake: a small point that if a payment is delayed for more than 3 bank days the client looses all rights on the developed product. If you design a website just use external CSS and turn it off when the time comes. If you design any kind of image, just announce on your website that the image can become available for purchase in a set time
Wants Something for Nothing
You started your freelancing with providing your services for free, but you have to start making an income on it some day. Some people fail to understand that. But how to make a seamless transition and not to loose your old clients? There are several things you should do:
- announce it out loud that you are taking money for your work, but your old clients will be receiving certain bonuses (give out whatever you can for free);
- if you still do it for free make sure that the client also does something big for you: a blogger can make an article about you (or write an e-book ), a businessman can bring you a new client and only after that receive your product for free; just make sure that if they still receive the stuff for free they really do something for you;
- make sure that when your services begin to raise their cost, you demand (in a soft way of course) more gratitude from old customers.
This should be very individual for everyone.
Moves the Goal Posts
When the client agrees on your price and you start the work, he suddenly asks for some little additions and in no-time the project may grow two or even three times. This is a bit harder to overcome. First of all you should clearly (extremely clearly) describe everything that you are going to do in a contract (I did mention that a contract is a MUST (use scans, conventional mail or other services to deliver it), didn’t I?). Then you should have a very clear understanding of the amount of little extras you can make for free (it is best if that amount is described in a contract). Whenever the client asks you to exceed that limit just be extremely kind to offer him to expand the contract for those extras. After all, when you buy meat in a shop, after it is weighed you do not ask the shopkeeper to drop in a little extra for free.
Makes Strange Demands
There are millions of them. And this is probably the easiest thing to overcome. You only need… right – a contract that describes everything in detail.
All of the issues (as ridiculous as they may seem) actually come from real life situations, and I am very grateful to Ken for bringing them to our attention. Solutions I have offered seem to be very simple, yet I would still like to offer you two more answers (yeah, I know you didn’t ask, but some things simply fly in the air);
Make a contract
It is a must! Make sure that the client understands why he has to bother with it. Explain that this is what all the professionals do (at least those who respect their clients). And always remember that contract is a two way road – you will also have obligations that are now written on paper!
Do not reject, but know how to say no… in other words
Some people just hate to hear “no” from others. The interesting thing, that even if you do not want to take the project, or do not agree to the offered conditions you do not have to say “no”. There are plenty of opportunities to overcome it:
- I would be happy to do it for you on the following conditions…
- There are several options for us here: (name the options that suite you).
- That will be technically challenging and will raise the cost of the whole project.
- I will be happy to advise you several of my friends that may find your conditions suitable (if you do not have such friends simply direct the customer to the worst designers that you know ).
Remember – the client is never bad, he may be challenging, but he is never bad!