Bad clients will steal your soul.
Clients – our reward and our honey (yes I do love bee-related analogies)… but not always.
You should always focus on prospects or clients which will give you the highest R.O.E (return on energy) and you will reach a turning point in your business when you start to fire BAD clients. Two projects might look the same and two clients might look the same that is not always the case.
As service providers, we are taught that the client is supposed to be king, and we are supposed to keep them satisfied. However there are cases when the king becomes a tyrant and it becomes time to decide whether or not you wish to protect your business, energy levels and team cohesion. If a relationship with a client – becomes synonymous with torture, it might time to end it – READY, SET, FIRED.
I personally ask my team a lot of questions before taking on a project – some project related but many interpersonal as well – what was the clients’ attitude during our initial consultation? Do they agree with our terms and conditions? Did they accept to be part of the feedback process and do they accept their responsibilities in such a process? My approach changed very recently after being faced with a very unpleasant client combining most of the traits I will highlight below.
I will give a few examples of bad client types which I think will erode your energy levels and will cost you thousands in resources and who might completely damage your team as well:
1. The ‘I can never be contacted’ client
2. The procrastinating client
3. The absurd client
4. The disrespectful client
5. The ‘I refuse to pay on time but I still want the same service’ client
6. The ‘I can’t plan anything on time and correctly but it’s all your fault’ client
7. The ‘I might not know what I want even when I see it’ client.
8. The ‘I wanted a Mercedes with the capacity of a Boeing but I didn’t tell you because your crystal ball should do that’ client.
9. The ‘I am not really serious about improving my business and putting effort into it but make me make millions’ client.
Why you should avoid them?
- To maintain team cohesion.
- To keep innovation and resources within your business.
- To work with like-minded businesses that are serious about making theirs better.
- To focus on building relationships with clients and potentials who see and admire the value in what you do.
- To keep energy levels up and run a business where there are positive vibrations.
- To make a healthy profit.
- To reduce stress.
- To remain sane.
How can you avoid them?
a) A TYRANNOSAURUS REX contract.
b) Clear terms and conditions.
c) Project management charts and clear deadlines.
d) Education through consultation and briefs.
e) Strong planning skills and tools.
f) Quoting upfront (a clear allergy to financial denominators is usually a symptom).
g) By being firm.
h) By having a pre-project screening process.
i) By having a list of warning signs.
There are several reasons why you might still want to take on a project with a bad client – desirability of the project, times might be a bit slow, increasing your portfolio and improving your skills etc.. but one thing you need to ensure is that you are protecting your team and your legal rights. You can avoid a tsunami by clearly communicating everything from the start and by making a client accountable by reinforcing that there is a reason why you do things the way you do them – it’s called professionalism. You know how you can avoid this - create a business that is that good and a marketing system that is so effective that you only attract the top range of your market.