As a contractor you probably want to jump at every work opportunity that comes your way, though realistically you should probably be looking out for the clients you don’t want to work with. You probably already know a few. Here are some warning signs of those you probably don’t want to be working with or for.
“I’m not entirely sure what I want”
You may be getting a feeling of déjà vu here; this client is never going to be satisfied with the end project, regardless of the quality of your work and any advice you may give them. The other problem may be that they do secretly know what they want but their expectations are way too high for what you could ever accomplish for their budget or timescale.
The best thing to do after you’ve spotted this client (probably because you’ve heard a phrase similar to that of the above) is to make sure you set up a meeting or conversation to go over expectations and to discuss the nearer goals. Also check on how they will measure the success of the project, and check that you both have the same gauge on what you are expecting.
“I’m out of the office until… forever”
This client is the one who never replies to anything. The sort who you start work for and need a bit of follow up information or feedback so you send them an email. Then you send a follow up email and then a follow up call and then ten more, all with no reply. They disappear off of the face of the earth when it matters most. If an initial question you have for them during the pitching process takes 4 days to be answered then you probably should take note and think about backing out gracefully from working from with the client, it’s likely you’ll have this problem throughout your work with them and you don’t want that especially when it comes to being paid.
“I can’t pay you, but I can offer you…”
No. Nothing good will come from this transaction. Unless they’re offering you the best seats in the house at the concert you’ve been dying to go to, then don’t make a deal with this person. Even then it’s probably not recommended, unless it’s a reasonable request of you and your work. When you meet this customer and you decide to go ahead ahead, make sure you set out an agreement of what you both expect from each other. Also make sure that the amount of whatever is being given in the trade equates as closely as possible to a monetary value for the time you’ll spending doing the work for them.
“How is it going? Any updates? Just calling to see if we can have a meeting?”
The over eager client constantly calls and emails for an update and wants a face to face meeting at a base. They act like an overly attached partner. You’ll want to avoid this client because it will take up your time, whether it be delaying their own project or taking time out of other things you’re working on. You can spot these clients straight away as they’ll unrelentingly contact you in the early stages of a project. It would probably be advised to avoid them as clients as the frustration of constant interruptions will inevitably have a detrimental effect on your relationship with them, leaving your chance of a recommendation slim and your attitude affecting your work.
Do you have any stories of clients you wish you’d never contracted for, or any near misses? let us know in the comments box.