Beware The Difficult Client
Copyright (c) 2002 by Angela Booth
Into each life a little rain must fall, and into each business life waltzes occasional difficult client.
Luckily, most clients are a pleasure to work with. The pains in derriere are also, when you have enough experience to recognize type.
I've listed several "difficult" types below, so that you can arm yourself against them.
The major weapon in your armory is THE CONTRACT. Always have a contract, no exceptions. Be especially wary of prospective client who says: "A contract? This will take you what, an hour? Surely you don't expect a contract for an hour's work?" (See "The Spider" below.)
=> The Convivial
You can recognize her by her cry: "Let's have a meeting before I sign off on this!" The Convivial client:
* always has an office which is half a day's drive from you;
* rarely shows up for any meetings she's scheduled, and if she does, is always at least an hour late; and
* never has an agenda for any meeting, and therefore never remembers why she wanted to see you, indeed she'll convince herself that YOU asked for meeting.
Your weapon: a signed contract with a paragraph which states that all meetings except first are chargeable at your usual daily rate, which is $X.
Note: if you don't have a schedule of fees, develop one. By close of business today. It's vital. Contact your professional association or ring local practitioners to discover what standard rates are, and use these as a basis to calculate your own fee schedule.
=> The Extremely Cautious
Her cry is: "I need to get input from Sales and Marketing, and then Legal wants to look it over". The Extremely Cautious client:
* has trouble with decisions, so rarely sees a project through to completion; and
* micro-manages, so expect five phone calls a week while you work on project.
Your weapon: a signed contract which specifies your billing cycle. This depends on project, but always get at least a third up front, and invoice monthly. Make sure that your contract specifies that all revisions after final draft are chargeable. When you hear "Legal" think: "revision, revision, revision".
=> The Bargain Bazaar
Her cry: "It came up that we really need X and Y and Z to make package complete. You won't mind including them, will you?"
The Bargain Bazaar client is always pleasant. She gets on your wavelength. She asks about your children, your hamster and your garden. She sends a box of mangos or a hand-tooled leather portfolio with your initials in gold when project is complete. Unfortunately, neither mangos nor portfolio cover unpaid extra work you did.