If you are a business owner, freelancer or virtual assistant (or if all of these terms apply to you), chances are you have had to deal with “clients from Hell” or “nightmare clients”. Well, as a social media manager and consultant, I have worked with many great clients, however I have had my fair share of working for clients that you would only think would encounter you in a bad dream. It is never a fun experience. And as frustrating as it is to deal with these bad apples, they actually can be blessings because they teach you how to value yourself, your services that you are offering and make you realize what you want and what you definitely don’t want in a client. I will give you 5 signs to detect in potential clients that will likely end up being a nightmare to work for.
1. Nickel and Diming– This trait is a horrible trait in a potential client. You tell him or her the cost of your services and they attempt to convince you to lower your prices or that you must work for them on a commission basis because they really need your services yet do not want to pay your prices. Unfortunately, many service providers who are desperate will give into this. I am stressing to never do that. You are devaluing yourself and services by doing this. On the flip side, you want to be sure that your prices are not overly costly, and offering a sliding scale in some cases is fine to do. You can even offer a discount for a certain time to attract more clients for your services. However, never ever give into a nickel and dimer. They either pay up or they can leave.
2. Back Out of Commitments– I had this issue happen in the past. One time I was ready to sign on a client to manage his social media. I had sent him the proposal, he agreed and told me to charge him. I did send him the invoice and he ignored it. I asked him to pay up since he committed to me managing his social media campaigns. He made excuses as to why he could not pay and kept telling me that he was going to get around to it, and got busy. I decided to cancel the invoice and told him that I don’t need clients who will constantly make excuses. If he made excuses for not paying up, I shutter to know what other stunts he would have ended up pulling. Having a contract drawn up by a lawyer is a must to protect yourself.
3. “I Hired that Provider and He/She did a Horrible Job”– That is a tell tale sign that you could be encountering a nightmare client. Now it is possible that he or she had a bad experience with a service provider in the past. However, more often than not, a client like that will expect perfection. If you want to give this one the benefit of the doubt, be careful if you decide to do that. Be watchful. If this potential client starts to nickel and dime you or appears to question you in other ways, run and don’t look back!
4. Unrealistic Expectations– If you encounter a client that expects you to work miracles and questions you on whether you really know what you are offering, you are going to be dealing with a nightmare client. This client is going to constantly call or email you, asking why a miracle he or she is expecting has not occurred. He or she is going to be awful to deal with. If this happens, you are better off refunding the client and flat out telling him or her you cannot help.
5. Your Intuition is Making you Uneasy About Taking a Client On– Your intuition never lies. If you have a nagging “bad feeling” about a client you are about to take on, you never question that. You must listen to that, and tell the client you cannot help. If you are feeling trouble coming on, then it means trouble is coming on.
It is counter-intuitive to not take on a client. It means less money and work for you, or is it really? In the long run, you will be saving yourself in all aspects, including financially if you deny working for a client that you detect is going to be a nightmare. Never be desperate to the point of taking a client that has any of these warning signs. You are far more valuable than that.
If you lower your price, you’re basically telling the client that you were overcharging in the first place. If they have a legitimate budgetary limitation (like many of our nonprofit clients do), we try to find ways to restructure our proposal to work within their budget. However, if we’re cutting our prices, we can’t offer the same package originally proposed — something has to change. Reasonable clients understand that and are usually happy to work with us to find an alternate solution.
True Lynn. In some cases you do need to restructure. However, we are not talking about the exceptional situations. We are talking about those who nickel and dime you which is never acceptable.
Very nice article. Thanks for sharing your insights. A very good reminder of how many times I’ve been sore from kicking myself for having taken on that client that I knew was going to be a nightmare. Hopefully lessons learned and all I need is that little reminder in the future!
Thanks for the comment and yep, it’s all a learning experience and they can be quite painful.