Difficult Clients 101

Posted on 18. Nov, 2009 by in Clients, Lists

Difficult Clients 101

Without difficult clients life would be…well, we can say not as exciting. But occasionally you find yourself in those positions where you want to just dig a hole and hide from the client that is making you want to quit being a freelancer.

Working in the video industry I have had so many great clients. You know the ones I’m referring to because you have been recognized by them to be the person who gets the job done best.¬† But with everything good said about the fun clients, there are some not so fun ones we must deal with along the way. I have only had few clients who got under my skin, some of them can be attributed to simply being a mean person, but so much of the responsibility can be pointed towards me.

Here are some traits that they all shared.
1. The client was a friend of a friend. Because of that they felt entitled to a discount or some type special of treatment. (Red flag 1)
2. I did not have written contract. (Mistake 1- Always get a contract!)
3. They wanted to know how many revisions of the final job they were getting. (Red flag 2)
4. They negotiated the price down, but insisted on the product being the same. (Mistake 2- I agreed because I knew them.)

This is a short list but even the most difficult client can be managed if you start on the right foot. In your contract you need to lay down very specific milestones and very clearly outline the amount of work being done. In the contract you also need to have provisions for extending or adding on to the project.

You must communicate to your client. Be proactive with updates and especially bad news. Let them know as soon as possible. Communication will make your experience bliss or hell.

1. Clearly setting boundaries and the rules of engagement in your contract. You have to get a signature!
2. If you discount, decreasethe amount of work you are performing. This sets a precedent for the rest of the project.
3. Anything above the contract is extra
4. There are some people who wont be happy with what you have done no matter what you do. Make sure your contract has provisions for refunds or lack there off.
5. Through all of this make sure to stick to your agreements and keep short accounts. Don’t let the little things slide! Just keep in mind the client needs you as much as you need them.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to tell us below.
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11 Responses to “Difficult Clients 101”

  1. Antonio

    19. Nov, 2009

    Great post. In my current job I’ve been dealing with some crazy lunatic clients who change their minds about the design after they have confirmed linking it and then wanting to redo it after the site is almost finished. Sometimes I feel web design is a real drag thanks to such clients.

  2. Luke Jones

    19. Nov, 2009

    I had one major problem client that had all of the above attributes. Fortunately, I’ve put my foot in it and I’m not having trouble anymore.

    They once said, “You’re not getting paid for this, you know?”. So I sent them an invoice for that work immediately when it was complete.

  3. Emily

    19. Nov, 2009

    Great advice. I’d love to see an article on the how and why of contracts.

  4. freelanceshack

    19. Nov, 2009

    I agree with you on that! We’ll be meeting with one of our attorney friends this week and see if he can contribute to this.

  5. uberVU - social comments

    19. Nov, 2009

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by johnpriceonline: RT @freelanceshack Difficult Clients 101|FreelanceShack http://bit.ly/Vj5QW...

  6. Mark

    19. Nov, 2009

    Great advice. Most of my clients are great but tere are those difficult ones. Communication is always the key.

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  11. Odessa

    02. Feb, 2010

    Timeliness on both sides is key and needs to be defined, i.e. three days after submission, two days, etc.; I’ve had too many projects drag on the client end, which clogs not only my schedule, but makes the client complain, even though they are the ones slowing things down.

    Further, cap the number of review rounds to avoid having input from the babysitter filtering in just before it’s final.

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