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Bad Clients and How to Avoid Them

July 29, 2016

Sometimes, as designers we literally come across the client from hell. That one person that no matter what you do, it’s just not right. Below i’ll give a few pointers on how to tell if a client is for you or not.

There are many different types of “bad clients” , I’m going to break down the 4 most common types of clients you will come across and how to avoid them.

  1. The Negotiator – This client wants to negotiate and talk you down from whatever price quote you give them. They usually want a plethora of items and want to get the cheapest price for the most work and will likely be expecting a fast turn. To avoid making the mistake of falling into this trap, you must stick to your guns and your rates. Anyone who respects your work, should respect your time as well and understand that your time as a designer is valuable.
  2. The Finesser – This is the client that midway through the project adds on little things here and there. The scope of the project becomes way more than you were initially expecting or had discussed. You must not be afraid to let a client know when what they are requesting or expecting is going to take additional time and money. If you do not communicate this, many times the client will expect the project to be completed in the same amount of time originally quoted. With this client, communication is key. To avoid this situation all together, you must be sure to screen and ask all necessary questions in the beginning. If this still occurs, do not be afraid to speak up and communicate. Many times, clients do not understand what they are requesting is beyond the agreed scope of work; and even if they do, it’s your job as a freelancer to speak up for yourself.
  3. The Newb – This client has no idea what they want. It’s likely that they aren’t even really sure as to what they need from you. They simply know that they are looking to start a business and need a logo. To avoid issues with this client you have to ensure that your initial point of contact is clear and precise. Ask as many questions as possible and use the necessary and proper communication channels if you choose to work with a “first-timer”. Likely this will require you to communicate more and work closely with the client to help guide them to creating effective design solutions. Good solutions with first time clients are online questionnaires with a follow up call and/or in person meeting.

    4. The Slave Master – Last but not least, this guy. The slave master. This client has nothing but expects you to deliver the world. They want a designer to be a magician of some sort. Avoid this client at all cost. Through experience, this person will likely have the funds and be ready to proceed with work, but have no idea or direction as to what they want. If dealing with web design, they will likely have no content and expect you to generate everything for them. This is usually the type of client that seems to be a stickler on time, yet have no time to provide you with the necessary tools to complete their project. Essentially, they feel like they are your only client and that all of your time should be dedicated to them and their project only. This is the worst. Once you are locked in to an agreement, even IF you offer to sever ties and give a refund, they will likely not accept and demand you still work with them. It’s hard to get out of but easy to avoid. As mentioned with prior client types, client screening is important. Ask all the questions you need and be sure the client understands what they must provide prior to designing so that you can provide them with a great service that meets their needs.

With all clients – it is necessary to have procedures and a series of questions that you ask prior to working with them and starting their project. In addition, it is important to connect on a more personal level. Email is ok and although, I am not a fan of text, sometimes a quick text may be necessary depending on your relationship with the client and scope of the project. Phone calls, Video Calls and in-person meetings are simply needed to be able to connect with a client to ensure you all have a successful project. If you pre-screen and really get to know the client prior to tackling their project it’ll likely save you some time and a headache. Take it from me, you don’t want to rush into a project and midway find out it’s the client from hell and searching for a way to escape. Been there, done that and it sucks LOL.

Next week i’ll be sharing my 10 necessary questions to ask BEFORE starting any design project. Until then feel free to share some of your client stories – I know we’ve all had at least one experience with these kind of clients if not all. Thanks for reading!

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