We’ve all had them. That client who turns out to be way more trouble than she’s worth. In the beginning, when the bliss of business ownership is starting to be overshadowed by the terror of your shrinking bank account, you might choose to work with these people. You may feel that you actually have no choice. I get that. I’ve been there.
But there will come a point where you can afford to be just a little bit picky. This is where you finally get to say, “The customer is not always right.” Especially when she’s being a pain in the ass.
Remember, this is your business, and you get to work with the clients you choose. Keep an eye out for these troublesome clients, and you’ll be a lot happier in the long run.
Mrs. “I Have the Most Amazing Business”
This is the woman whose business is all about “inspiring my clients to inspire themselves by inviting them to new possibilities and limitless expansion.” She can talk endlessly about “transformative energy” and “expansive change” without saying…well, anything at all.
I used to get a complex about this client. I was convinced that my failure to understand what she was saying is indicative of a fundamental flaw in my own wiring.
Guess what? I was wrong. And if you’re feeling this way about your potential client, you are likely wrong as well.
The fact is, this client has a vague idea (maybe) about what he or she wants in a website (or a business) but if they can’t clearly articulate it, they’re not ready for you. They need to get clear on exactly what she does (and for who) before she’ll have a viable business that can afford to pay you.
Your clients should be able to tell you:
- Exactly who their clients are
- Exactly what they do for/sell to those clients (in specific terms, not airy-fairy nonsense)
If they can’t do that, then they are very likely not ready for you yet.
Ms. “I Think I’ll Start a Business Today”
These are the folks who have attended a webinar or paid $17 for a course on how to start a business, and one of the things they learned is that they need a VA. All the successful business people they follow have a “team,” after all. So they contact you.
I used to work with these people. I thought I could help them achieve their dreams. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I know a little about growing a business online, so I should be able to help, right? The problem is, these potential clients don’t really want a business. They love the thought of being a business owner. They love studying about business, brainstorming ideas, and hanging out with friends at meetups and masterminds, but they don’t want to put in any real work. Without that, they won’t ever have a viable business.
And without a business, they really don’t need you either.
Mr. “That Will Never Work In MY Business”
This is the guy who dismisses your advice. All of it.
He knows he needs to build a mailing list, and you lay out 5 viable ways your other clients are doing the same thing, only to be met with, “My audience won’t respond to that.” Or worse, he agrees, then wants to change fundamental pieces of the plan.
Instead of hosting a free telesummit with 20 industry experts, he decides to host 4 experts and make it a paid program.
Rather than posting properly SEO’d blog posts with graphics made for sharing, he prefers to write “click-friendly” headlines and save money by not using images at all.
Why did he hire you again?
Miss “See Ya’ Later”
This is my least favorite client. She bangs down your virtual door, money in hand and a head full of great ideas. You outline a project, clear your calendar, and “poof!” She vanishes for the next 37 weeks.
Emails go unanswered.
Phone calls are ignored.
You may begin to wonder if she’s abandoned her project completely.
Even that wouldn’t be terrible, though. Sometimes life gets in the way and ideas get sidelined. It happens.
The real problem with this client is that when she does reappear, she makes it clear that her project should be number one on your priority list. Never mind that you haven’t heard from her since June of 2015. Forget the fact that you no longer even remember the details, and now have to spend half a day just playing “refresh my memory” in your project notebook.
None of that matters. She’s ready to go today, and expects you to be as well.
She needs a VA. She doesn’t need a VA. She wants to work with you. She needs to get some other pieces in place first. She wants these images on her website. No, she doesn’t like the message that sends.
This is a woman who simply cannot make up her mind, and working with her will be an endless source of frustration.
Now truthfully, it’s not her fault that she’s wishy-washy. She’s very likely overwhelmed with information and is having trouble making sense of it all. While she can be frustrating to work with, this can also be an ideal client for the right VA. If you specialize in helping new online entrepreneurs get their biz off the ground, then this client might just be perfect for you. You just have to be confident in your skills and firm in your dealings with her.
So how do you deal with these troublesome clients?
Trust your gut. You’ve no doubt had a conversation or two with potential clients that made you think, “This one will be trouble.” Believe that little voice, because it’s almost always right.
Set boundaries. Make it clear that your quotes are good for 30 days, that no work on a project will begin until all the necessary documents/images/content are received, and that after 60 days of no communication, all projects will be considered closed. If you use a contract in your business, including these or similar stipulations will help prevent issues down the road.
Stand up for yourself. At my last job, we had some horrible, demanding customers. Some of the most frustrating parts of my job were having to deal with their ridiculous demands. Massively increased production schedules were the norm—never mind our other customers. Invoices were underpaid because they implemented a company-wide price cut. Seriously!
You do not have to put up with that in your business. You’re allowed to say no. You are allowed to say, “That schedule won’t work for me. I can turn this in on Friday, but not Tuesday.”
It’s your business and your life. Don’t let your clients make crazy demands on your time and your sanity.