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Building Your Clientele: Where to Draw the Line

Bye Bye Bad ClientInstead of concentrating on getting more and more clients (like how most sales people think), I’d rather spend that time developing my relationships with my current ‘Good’ clients and provide them with a more value-added service. Because as their business grows, so does their need for my services. And these are the clients who would give me referrals to other great clients.

Now what do we do with the ones who don’t want to play nice?


Weeding Out the Bad Ones
Yesiree! Pun intended. Bad Clients are like vicious weed who suck the life, joy and pleasure out from the profession of designing. What are the traits that constitute a ‘Bad’ Client? Well, it really depends on the set of goals and principles your company/business lives by. If the only motivation you have for designing is monetary gain, then it that case, I don’t think that there’s such a thing as ‘Bad Clients’ for that business model – as long as they are throwing money your way, they’ll always be a part of your clientele. But no matter how tolerant or money-driven you may be, there’ll always come a time when you have to draw the line when it comes to dealing with your clients and whatever unprofessional conduct they come packaged with.

Like any other ‘bona fide’ designer, I am moody as it is on my sunniest day – there simply are things that completely piss me off. Some call them pet peeves, some refer to the whole experience as wrong buttons getting pushed, I’d like to call them as “A**-holic behavior that would guarantee that this’ll be my last project with them”. And for your reading pleasure, here they are in no particular order:

  • Clients who don’t pay on time – You have slaved your ass off – deprived yourself of sleep, exercise, hygiene and sunlight just so you can help your client meet your project’s ridiculous deadlines. And now that their invoice is due, and only just now, your client tells you that he or she can’t make payment because of (insert your client’s supposedly-valid excuse here) – Whatever lame excuse it may be, this sort of behavior from a client is utterly unacceptable. People, we are running a business here! I am sure that your client was quite aware of your credentials, professionalism, and track record of testimonials from happy clients on the day he or she decided to award you their project. So why the hell are they treating your invoice/contract like a it was handwritten using canine excrement on toilet paper? Come on! Don’t tell me that these people are intellectually incapacitated that they we’re unable to foresee 30, 15, or even seven days ago that they won’t be able to make payment on time.

    Out of sheer courtesy, the least these people could do is notify you a week in advance about their utter broke-assness. But noooooooo, they’d have to wait on the due date itself. This shows that you they are disrespectful, unprofessional, and utter morons. You should be expecting them to pay their overdue balance along with associated cumulative late charges – of which details should be explicitly stated in your contract with them.

  • Clients who don’t pay at all – Yes, they exist. I don’t even have to expound on this, payment for services rendered IS the most basic of what is expected from a client. To protect yourself from these kind of cosmic scum, no matter how jovial and professional they may sound during the initial meeting; Always start a project with a contract and, if you may, a deposit. This will ensure that the client is committed to the project as much as you are.
  • Clients who are verbally abusive – If talking to your client makes you feel like you are Lloyd (from the HBO series Entourage) taking crap from Ari Gold, this is a clear sign that you should drop this client if you still have some self-respect left. Remember, they are paying you for your services and not to listen to them drop F-bombs or any other derogatory remarks on you. If ever, by some cosmic joke, you end up with one of these types; quickly finish up your project with them, record all meetings and conversations, and do yourself the favor of not ever again putting up with such f*ckery.
  • Clients who can’t follow their own deadlines but still expect you to meet theirs – Now, clients who submit materials late or are taking too long to vet through and approve drafts are not really rare. There will always be clients who can only do work, even if their life depends on it, on the very last minute. They are not what I’m referring to, what I’m referring to are those clients who expect you to finish layout of an entire magazine within two days after dumping all (in one long thread of emails) of their half-assed yet still incomplete materials at you (which you have been asking for – two weeks ago) because the printing company ain’t buying their bullsh*t and told them that if they submit final artworks a day later the entire publication will be delayed. Or those clients who calls you up 3am to tell you that they need the website, which originally has a 4 more days turnaround time, completed by 8am the same day because the CEO suddenly decided to visit – and threatens you to cancel the project if the ‘new’ deadline isn’t met.

    You really can’t know for certain if your client would fall into this category until you get into that tight predicament with them. But what you could do to protect yourself from these people is to make sure that you stipulate the resolution/s for events that would affect and alter the agreed date and manner of delivery for the project.

I’m sure that you guys might have a lot more types of ‘Bad Clients’ that you may have worked with. I’m very interested to know those ‘unique’ ones you’ve encountered and how you dealt with them. Feel free to share more about them at the comments section. Maybe if y’all would include more specific info, we could come up with a list of clients to avoid working with. It’ll be a great favour to the community.

Rockstar for hire.
I help businesses create memorable branding experiences for their customers.

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One thought on “Building Your Clientele: Where to Draw the Line

  1. Dorris Falls says:

    Your resource is actually great. Many thanks for that.

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