“We’re always told the customer is right, and in fact, the customer is usually a moron and an a****le.”—Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
The sooner you accept the fact that not all customers are good for your business, the sooner you can start focusing on attracting higher quality, more profitable customers. Bad clients can stress you out, kill your productivity, and even cost you time and money.
The key to avoiding bad clients is to be able to recognize them early on so you can avoid doing business with them or, at the very least, have your guard up.
Here are the top 5 warning signs of bad clients.
- The client is very determined to drive down your price—I don’t have a problem with healthy negotiations, but when the client seems to only be concerned with your price, that’s a sign that they’re expecting something for nothing. Price shoppers are disloyal (they’ll leave you as soon as they find someone cheaper) and don’t appreciate quality.
- The client is disorganized—Watch out for clients who can’t provide you with the information and materials you need to get started on the project or who regularly forget about scheduled phone calls/meetings. Disorganized clients will waste your time and cost you money.
- The client is hard to get in touch with—There is nothing more frustrating than a project that drags on and on because the client refuses to pick up the phone or respond to your emails. You can usually avoid this by paying attention to your initial interactions with the client. If the client is difficult to track down before you even begin the project, that’s a huge red flag that the behavior will continue throughout your relationship.
- The client is never satisfied—Look, we all make mistakes. I fully admit that I’m not perfect, but you and I both know that there are certain clients who will NEVER be satisfied. They like to nitpick at the tiniest, most insignificant details, because they just want to complain and secretly hope you’ll refund their money. Legitimate complaints are one thing, but when they are ALWAYS complaining, you know something is wrong.
- Your gut tells you something is off—Over the years, I’ve found that trusting my gut when dealing with clients is the best way to go. I’ve ignored my instincts on several occasions, giving certain clients the benefit of the doubt, and every time, I’ve regretted it. If you’ve been working with clients for a decent amount of time, your instincts should be pretty spot on. Trust them, and cut ties when things don’t seem right.
Come on, we’ve all had experiences with bad clients. What were some of the warning signs you noticed in your experiences?