Business Advice General

Types of Clients to Avoid

Affordable Words - Clients to Avoid
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Ever had a client where you just think, “What the heck is the problem?  Is it me, or is it them?”  It can actually be a combination of both of you.  To make the relationship as successful as possible, it’s important to identify the type of client you’re working with (or considering working with).

  • The Disciplinarian.  This client gives you a list of tasks and due dates. He/she wants to make sure things are done, done on time, and done right.  When you have success, there is a pat on the head and an “atta boy/girl.”   So, what’s the problem?  He/she is going to already have a price in mind regardless of the work involved, and will also expect more from you while being unwilling to pay for this additional work.
  • The Denier.  This client ignorese anything you say.  You may offer advice about something, or share your knowledge about the best say to get things done.   But what you say falls on deaf ears.  This client feels that his/her way is the only way and either do it that way, or they’ll find someone else.  The red flag for this type of client is if he/she says, “I’ve used X number of people before and no one got it right.”  
  • The Nervous Wreck.  Typically, you’re dealing with someone very new to their endeavor.  He/she doesn’t know a lot, has problems making decisions, and seems to flutter from one idea to the other.  You can easily intimiate this client with basic information.  You have two choices: either acknowledge that you understand the fear and you want to help, or explain that another resource might be a better fit.
  • The Tester.   Of all the clients out there, this one is the most degrading.  He/she may be nice, easy to work with, etc.  However, the goal is to pick your brain dry (without paying for the information) by enticing you to work on a project with either one specific focus, or a bunch of small components in a bigger project.  You will not make very much money from this client since his/her goal is to gather data and then use it for something else  (typically to use it as leverage with another resource).
  • The Joker.  For this client, everything will be laughable and a potential joke.  For example, if you suggest an investment in something vital to success, he/she will laugh it off as if you have no idea what you’re taking about…and it’s absurd.  This client has no confidence in him/herself and shows that by expression in a non-business form.  You need to turn down the business.
  • The Blamer.  It’s never his/her fault: it’s always someone else that screwed up, this other resource was clueless, or there was money antics going on.  You hear nothing but whining and complaining.   This client can never be pleased – no matter what you do, or how hard you try. 
  • The Quick Fix.  Can you drop what you’re doing and do it now?  If not, this client isn’t for you.  He/she has gotten backed into a corner – either because someone else dumped them because things got out of control, or the deadlines were too stiff.  Thus, this client has wasted time and is now looking for someone who wants to fix it.   If you accept this client, stick to your guns about your schedule as well as your rush fee.  Plus, get your money upfront – in full. 
  • The Judge. If you could see this client, he/she would be sitting behind a big desk, not making eye contact, and waiting for you to slip up.  (Watch a court proceeding – specifically the judge – and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)   You need to fly right with this client or you’ll get “overruled” on everything: the process, the communication, the price, the result.  He/she may seem to be reasonable and fair, but that’s because the final say is his/hers.
  • The Warm Fuzzy.  Everything greats.  Everything is wonderful.  Aren’t you terrific.  Aren’t I terrific.  This client is all about the emotional aspect of the work.  He/she (and it’s typically a woman) just lets things move along, happy to be part of the process.  This client will be more worried about the burden placed on you and as a result, things will drag on and on.  Payments will be few and far between – if at all.

In my experience, about 35% of my clients are one or more of these.  The most typical:  the DenierBlamer and/or Quick Fix (and all of these were men).   The choice is yours if you want to try to work with one of these types…but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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