Vetting potential clients in real life can be a bit like reviewing Tinder suggestions — someone’s profile mightlook awesome, but on your first (or second) date, you find out they’re living at home because no one wants them as a roommate and Mom is still doing their laundry.
Then, of course, there’s dealing with all the self doubt that comes in the aftermath of a bad date (*ahem* client) experience.
“What went wrong? What did I do wrong? Is this me, or is this just them? I should have known better. How do I solve this problem?!”
The best way to prevent these situations from happening is to avoid them in the first place, but sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a project when red flags start going up. What to do about it?
Check out the seven client profiles you should definitely “swipe left” on, and how you can protect yourself.
Ghosty Gus, 34
I’ve got things to do and places to go. In fact, I’m so busy that I probably won’t be able to answer your emails or return your phone calls regularly!
The solution: If you’ve sent 10 emails and made 8 phone calls… andstill haven’t heard back, you’ve encountered Ghosty Gus. Make sure you have a clause in your contract that specifies what happens if your client goes AWOL.
How long will you wait before moving their project to “inactive,” and what will they have to do (and how much will they have to pay) before you put their project back on your priority list? What about when Gus makes a sudden reappearance in your life and wants to take back that shiny gift he got you for your birthday (aka he wants a refund even though you’ve clearly stated there aren’t any, right?)?
Cheapo Clare, 27
I pride myself on being thrifty and getting the best quality for my money. How do I do it?! I just refuse to pay until I see the final product… no putting down a deposit and or retainer for me!
The solution: if you’ve clearly explained your payment policies (and how a deposit and retainer covers your initial costs) and your client isstill pushing back, run for the hills. They’re likely going to be difficult every time you ask for payment, and you deserve to get paid for your hard work.
“No one understands me” Nelly, 42
My thoughts, motivations, and deepest emotions are chronically misunderstood. It’s a heavy burden, but someday, I’ll find someone who will trulyget me, and magic will happen! Are you my magical match?
The solution:Occasionally you’ll run into the client who mentions that the last person they worked with (or the last three, or fifteen) just didn’t quite work out. Sometimes, there’s legit reasons for this… their previous contractor may have moved on, changed their pricing, or taken on more time-intensive work. But if your potential client says they just didn’t really like the results, or felt like it wasn’t “a good fit,” it’s worth investigating a little more. Was the previous contractor just not up to the task… or is this a case where the client doesn’t really know what they want?
Boundary Pusher Bob, 63
When I was a lad, I had to be up at the crack of dawn to get to work. If they said jump, I asked how high, and I was grateful for it! These young whippersnappers don’t know how to work hard, they take weekends off and don’t answer their emails. Hmmph!
The solution:Got a client who emails at all hours, wants “just one more thing,” or thinks their project should be the exception to your pricing structure? You’ve got yourself a Bob. In this case, speak up early and often, before you’re about to blow a gasket. There’s also nothing like taking early prevention measures. Make sure your contract spells out their project timeline, pricing, and expectations, and make sure they’re aware when you are and aren’t available before you get started!
Project Morph Paul, 38
This is gonna be a big project… big I tell you! We’re gonna start with two… no, three, no…. wait, I think we should look into using this strategy here. Hmm, maybe that’s not big enough. Wait, I’ve got an idea!
The solution: What happens when a client initially says they’re looking for one type of service, changes the scope during the discovery call, and then wants to change what you’re offering once you’ve sent over a contract? Madness… that’s what happens. Just like with Bob, you need to make sure your contract is airtight and spells out the what, how, and how much of your project. If you and the client can’t come to an agreement, move on. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Revisionist Ruth, 55
I am committed to only accepting quality work I believe nothing is really ever “done,” and it can always be made better improved! I review projects again and again, making sure that every word is perfect and every idea is crystal clear. It’s time consuming, but the end result is something I can be proud of!
The solution:Ah, the never ending rounds of revision… when a client looks over your work, wants a few changes, sends it back after you revise with more suggestions, rinse, lather, repeat. There’s not much more frustrating than a client who can’t make up their mind or is endlessly nitpicky. Make sure you protect yourself by spelling out how many revisions and changes you’re offering in your contract, and referring back to that when revisions start piling up.
Expert Eddy, 57
Jack of all trades, yep, that’s me! I could do what you’re doing — better even! — but I’m busy running my businesses, so I’m outsourcing. Don’t worry though, I’ll look at your work and suggest ideas and changes so awesome, you’ll wish you’d come up with them!
The solution: Your client already knows how to do what you’re doing, they’re just too busy to do it themselves. (Obviously.) But instead of letting you useyourexpertise to get the job done, they’ll suggest plenty of ways for you to “improve” your work. Subtly reminding the client that you’re working for the “good of the project” can help move them past their ego and into a more cooperative frame of mind.
Avoid a client nightmare sitch with the Rock Solid Contract blueprint!You can get it right here and, best of all, it’s free!