About Clients

Niall Deakin
21 Sep 17

Intro

In a previous post, I said I’ll talk about “Toxic Clients”.  This is that article, except I’m going to tweak it to something more positive.

I’ll be writing about all the different types of clients I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with, from the delightful to those who make me want to tear my own hair out, and then there are those who make me question everything.
How odd that it’s already seeming negative.

Disclaimer: I know everyone is human.  To us, our thinking makes sense, and when we meet people who do not think like us, we get worked up.  That is why we need patience and to know how to handle each situation.  This article isn’t about what to do when it’s easy.

Client Types

Individuals

Working with individuals is a tempting prospect.  It’s easier talking one-to-one, ideas and tweaks come faster and more precise.

However, I’ve found working with a single person on a project can be overwhelming, when they are simply focused only on themselves.
This could mean your client is one person, part of a team, or the appointed representative for the business.  If they have their own agenda, then it can be a nightmare.

I’ve worked with small companies, sole-traders, charities, large businesses, you name it.  It is certainly easier having one person to talk to about the project, but if they themselves do not know what they want, or tell you what is wanted which isn’t a part of the original spec, then it’s time to re-adjust.

Constant Calling

I’ve had clients who literally send me a string of emails, texts, or are constantly on the phone with me.  I understand the need for communication, but there are times I’ve spent more time trying to figure out a task than actually doing it.

Job boards or summary emails are great to tackle this problem, as they can be updated as and when needed, and able to be referenced when you forget something or wondering what to do next.  It really does help to stay organised.

Disappearing Acts

These clients… oh these clients are fun.

Now I’ve not had much experience with these clients… maybe I’ve just forgotten, but these are the type who get in touch every now and then, ask for a job doing, and then disappear into the ether, only to return days, weeks, or months later.  They’re near impossible to get a hold of.

Now you’re thinking, “well it’s not too bad if they only get in touch every now and then”, but remember, you’re a business and cannot drop everything when the prodigal client returns. You have deadlines and need to manage your time effectively.

“Five Days Ago” Guys

Everything is a matter of life and death to these clients.  They expect everything to be done now, or five days ago.  They have little regard for your own planning or timescale and expect you to be at their beck and call.

Now, I think these type of clients are the fewest I’ve dealt with.  I’ve had a few potential clients who want jobs done immediately, but if it’s not possible to do their work when they need it doing, they go find another solution.

There is a hope

This article is only a brief look into some of the clients I’ve come across.  By no means is this exhaustive, nor do clients have to fit into one of these types; some are a mixture, and some are none.

My only advice to you is to manage your own time effectively.  Set time apart for specific clients, working on their projects at certain times, and giving yourself time to focus on other projects or even yourself!  You’re no use if you’re being pulled in every direction.

You don’t need to answer the phone whenever someone rings; sure have it next to you and see who is calling, but if it can wait, let it wait as it takes fifteen minutes to get focused on a job, and stopping to answer a call or get distracted from the work is more time wasted.
The same applies to emails and messages; don’t get distracted by work.

Do not be afraid to talk about money.
I’m not alone in this area, but I don’t like to deal with money.  If I could, I’d work for free because I enjoy what I do.
However, there are times when sometimes you need to be direct with clients, which I know is scary if you’re starting up.  I’ve had my fair share of timewasters, as well as those who are trying to get me to work for free.
I understand the value of a good deal, but when clients ask more of you for the same price or essentially question the work you’ve done for them, you’ll need to calmly explain to them the situation.  More often than not, they will understand and you can then work something out, but if the client is more hassle than they work is worth, then don’t be afraid to cut them loose.
There will be other clients out there.

At the end of the day, you are running a business, and you need to do what is best for you and the business.
It’s a scary process, but if you find the right clientele and get a healthy working relationship going, you’ll find yourself loving your job more and more.