How to Spot a Bad Fit Client - And What To Do About It
How to Spot a Bad Fit Client –
And What to Do About It
By Fran Kruse, Website & Blog Writer
Sidekick Creative Copywriting Services
You're an upstanding, reputable professional and always strive to do your best for every client. But sometimes, a client turns out to be (ahem!) a challenge. They drain your time, spike stress, and dig a deep hole in your wallet.
How can you protect your business and sanity?
Watch for these warning signs to help you avoid onboarding a potential problem client. And, if you're already experiencing client regret, learn how to tactfully remove yourself from the painful relationship.
Client Red Flags
Listen to what the client tells you:
- They're able to do the work themselves but don't have the time
- The project is super simple and doesn't require much time or effort
- They have a limited budget and reiterate this at every meeting
- But they want and expect the gold package or elite service
- How they were taken advantage of by all the other service providers
Notice how the client behaves:
- They keep changing their minds along with the project's scope and direction
- They postpone meetings at the last minute, are constantly late or miss meetings entirely
- They disappear for weeks or months and don't provide the information you requested
- They don't pay the invoice on the due date, and you're constantly following up
- They don't take your professional advice and undermine the effectiveness of the project
How to Handle a Problem Client
So, you've completed the project, but the client returns with more work. What do you do?
If you want to continue the relationship, try this:
- Have a polite and honest conversation about the issues and challenges
- Try the "sandwich" technique of a positive comment, issues/challenges, positive comment
- Firmly state your terms and expectations if the relationship is to continue
- Follow up with a detailed email outlining your discussion
- Recognize that the client may accept the new working terms or move on. In either case, always remain professional and upbeat.
If you want to separate from the relationship, try one of these options:
- Let the client know you're raising your rates and can refer them to another service provider with budget-friendly pricing
- Let the client know you're shifting your business/service focus and no longer taking on this type of project. But you would be happy to connect them to other providers in your network.
- Let the client know you're at client capacity. Their project deserves priority and attention, and you can recommend another professional.
Developing client management skills is always a win for your business and reputation. Spotting problem clients at the start will alert you to potential issues down the road and help you decide if you're willing to take them on. Knowing how to manage challenging clients will help you decide whether to restate your terms or end the relationship.
When you're able to spot and manage bad-fit clients, you open the door to taking on rewarding projects and dream clients who love working with you.
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