Home – New Forums Get productive How do you avoid clients you dont want?

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  • #966447
    Jill
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    This might seem a little strange, maybe not.
    But Ive been in business long enough to know, or at least have a very strong feeling, from an initial (or 2nd/3rd) contact (phone call or email) from a brand new client, that this isnt going to work. I know what they want, which is not what they are asking for.

    eg. New client has seen my business bundles offered on my website (range of logo, business cards, website etc bundles), in their first email they say they want the minimum bundle ie cheapest logo, smallest quantity cheapest cards, and a one page website. K, not a problem, I can do that, I run through some questions, get a feel for what they require and I can make a start, logo first.

    But then, after 2 or 3 emails, it becomes apparent they want the full branding experience, including designing vehicle wraps, animated Flash header in their “one page” (that looks and functions like a 15 page) website, a logo that jumps out and grabs new clients by the neck (ok slight exageration) ALL for the minimum outlay.

    What do you do? I’ve never been in favour of contracts, nor would I want to use them now, nor will I ask for payments up front. Its not about getting money out of clients.

    So how do you NOT get that client? At what point, and how, do you decline the project when you’ve initially agreed to take them on? I find I have to explain over and over, but some people seem to use selective reading skills and totally ignore your advice, they continue to want it all, but just dont understand you dont get a $800 logo for $220, you dont get a $3000 website for $250, and you dont get the full branding experience on a $700 budget.

    This is not a self promotion exercise, this has happened more than once, Id be very interested to hear, how do you deal with clients like that? I thought I was quite clear on what I was offering, I have no intention of misleading anyone into spending more than they need, thats why I offered the business bundles. I thought it was pretty clear what you get, and what you dont get.

    After putting that all on paper, I think the only way to avoid that is a contract with a payment up front, but thats not an option for me. I dont want that client.

    What do you do when you realise you dont want that client?

    #1018286
    Chris Bates
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    Hey Jill,

    From the few websites I’ve landed so far, I know your pain!

    I’m about to start promoting my web design a bit harder soon, and I’ve thought about this myself recently. The only thing I can really think of to avoid this situation, is to not tell them the price.

    I want to sell it on the point of we work with you, to find a solution that fits your goals and budgets. So until I know your goals and budget, I don’t have a price for you.

    I’ll let you know how that one goes though :P

    #1018287
    LeelaCosgrove
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    Why don’t you want to make money up front? I mean, I understand not wanting a contract (I don’t bother with those) – but one of the quickest ways I’ve found to sort the wheat from the chaff is by doing minimum 50% deposit (also helps cashflow and saves messing around with bad debts on the backend).

    From there, I email a project brief outlining what they get for what they’ve paid and when they can expect delivery.

    Then if they try and get more, I send them a quote for how much that will cost.

    I think the most important thing is to separate emotion from business.

    If they want something for nothing, you tell them No. You remind them what they bought. And you keep saying No until they get it.

    And if they proceed to try and get more and it’s annoying you – you fire them as clients.

    #1018288
    Astrid
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    Exactly. I’m with Leela on this one.
    Say ‘stop’ and send an updated quote and contract in a friendly and professional way.
    If they don’t agree with you, they should pay you for what you’ve done so far and look somewhere else for the additional stuff.
    Why are you against an upfront payment/instalment?

    #1018289
    Jill
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    I have never liked being paid up front for anything. Once Im paid I lose motivation, it just doesnt work for me. I can do it, but much prefer the reward after the work is complete.

    I definitely wouldnt approach it as Leela does. I’m glad that works for you Leela, but I wouldnt feel comfortable taking money and THEN providing them with a more comprehensive brief of what they will get, even though it may have been outlined previously. If they dont like the elaborated brief, that makes for an awkward relationship, and begins the “we thought”, “we expected” etc.

    I prefer my clients to know exactly what they will be getting, what level of service, what development time can be expected, etc so that there will be no surprises or curveballs, for either party.

    I think I just have to wear those few clients that just dont get it.

    “Say ‘stop’ and send an updated quote and contract in a friendly and professional way.”
    Thanks Astrid, thats what I end up doing, basically. With that “expanded” outline. The thing is, that’s just what Ive told them before, they just dont listen the first time around.

    I just get frustrated having to explain you dont get a $3000 website for $250, and they wont get 12 hours development time and a logo worth $1200 for $220.
    Maybe I need to have a terms of service document that outlines all of the issues at least. But then, those same kind of clients will only read what they want to read and ignore the rest.

    Aaaargh, and its only Thursday!

    #1018290
    ICT Guru
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    Hi Jill,

    congrats on developing your “bs” meter to work out what clients need special attention.

    The strategy that I use is 2 fold. For me, I work on individual quotes and so if something really doesn’t feel right to me, I’ll price myself out of the project. This sounds a little harsh, but at the end of the day, people want people they can work with and chances are we aren’t going to be able to work together so price is just an excuse for them to bail.

    The second thing I do is if they still come back to me, part of my conditions of engagement are that they do a LOT of work upfront before even engaging me. So for example, if they want a website done I present them with a “todo” list (a bit like homework) and my services are based on the results of that homework. If they don’t do the work then I don’t engage.

    If you have a set price, then prepare add ons to the original quote based on what they want and always be clear and upfront with them on what they are getting exactly. If they want something extra then make sure they understand it costs extra, but do it in such a way that you are accomodating their needs whilst being firm on value.

    Leela hit the nail on the head – “separate emotion from business” when doing deals and you’ll be a much better deal maker. While performing the contract though, your emotions differentiate you between a great service provider and an amazing one. Great service providers may or may not be in business for long, but amazing ones always are.

    Good luck!

    AJ~

    #1018291
    Astrid
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    Hi Jill

    See, I’m different, I am much more motivated after an upfront (50%) payment ;-)
    At least I know that the client is as keen as I am to get a good job done.

    I also quote in detail – and when I see after the next talk that the client wants more than quoted or that he doesn’t understand what’s involved, I explain it to him – including the additional costs.

    The only packages I sell are packages for start-ups (as logo, stationery, etc) – and the outline includes all the client needs, to understand what he gets.
    Might be a bit more complicated with websites, that’s right.

    Good luck
    Astrid

    PS: t&c are a necessary thing to avoid misunderstandings.

    #1018292
    LeelaCosgrove
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    Pfffft … well obviously you tell them what they’re buying upfront before you take their money – I’m not freaking shifty and ripping people off.

    My point was that after you’ve taken their money you send them written confirmation of what they’ve bought so that any time they try to go off brief you can refer them to what they’ve agreed to pay for.

    #1018293
    JohnSheppard
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    Write a contract. Stipulate the amount of revisions and what a revision means. Stipulate the hourly rate after those revisions.

    Get payment at certain milestones….I’m half way through writing my generic contract at the moment, it’s coming to about 8 pages long and reads like an insurance policy lol….

    It’s not as much fun, but….neither is working for free….pick one :)

    If you don’t give them boundaries they will think they are unlimited. They’re not mean people, they just don’t know they’re boundaries. That’s your job to educate them. A contract is the best way to do that.

    So to the original question: Charging money is the best way to get rid of customers. It’s difficult to say, “well, uhh, but i already spent 20 hours doing that and now you want it a different colour and moved around a bit”….its easy to say “revision 1, phase 2 is complete. I require payment. What would you like me to change again?”

    #1018294
    ramirezhenry55
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    Try creating a website that state different packages with different prices. Its okay not to have a contract especially when things are done virtually but stipulating a price and making money from clients are all fair. It would be harder on both parties to execute a plan not knowing from the very start the total contract price.Jill, this is just my POV.

    #1018295
    Jill
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    john.sheppard, post: 21325 wrote:
    Write a contract. Stipulate the amount of revisions and what a revision means. Stipulate the hourly rate after those revisions.

    Get payment at certain milestones….I’m half way through writing my generic contract at the moment, it’s coming to about 8 pages long and reads like an insurance policy lol….

    It’s not as much fun, but….neither is working for free….pick one :)

    If you don’t give them boundaries they will think they are unlimited. They’re not mean people, they just don’t know they’re boundaries. That’s your job to educate them. A contract is the best way to do that.

    So to the original question: Charging money is the best way to get rid of customers. It’s difficult to say, “well, uhh, but i already spent 20 hours doing that and now you want it a different colour and moved around a bit”….its easy to say “revision 1, phase 2 is complete. I require payment. What would you like me to change again?”

    Hmm, thanks John, it seems I will after all have to go with a brief Terms and Conditions. An 8 page contract? not for me. I prefer a more casual approach, I’ll just have to be more specific in my T&Cs.

    Leela, my apologies, I interpreted that you send a more comprehensive brief after a payment has been made. If I were to go that route, it would have to be an identical brief before and after any payment. Good advice, thankyou.

    Now to write a T&C, which will be public, I’d prefer any future clients have a read before they contact me.

    Thanks everyone.

    #1018296
    Jake@EmroyPrint
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    I agree with John, a contract or “scope of work” as I like to call it is a must.

    Your spot on when you said you want to keep if casual and not to overbearing. There’s more chance of it being read that way.

    One of the best tricks I’ve picked up is the “revisions”. This way, you are clear on exactly how many modifications you will be making before a higher price kcks in.

    I tend to find that a lot of client just say “do what you think is best” and once you do that, they’ll tell you it’s not what they has in mind, catch 22.

    I have a similar checklist as mentioned, it covers things like colours, fonts, overall look and feels as well as other designs they have seen and liked. It’s a great starting point.

    #1018297
    JohnSheppard
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    Jill, post: 21355 wrote:
    Hmm, thanks John, it seems I will after all have to go with a brief Terms and Conditions. An 8 page contract? not for me. I prefer a more casual approach, I’ll just have to be more specific in my T&Cs.

    Casual approach will lead you to harms way in my opinion :) Too many things can go wrong in IT and one things for certain…your customer’s don’t have a CLUE….you are the professional in the relationship. Think of a doctor, orthodontist, lawyer…they are never casual about anything…

    The terms and conditions are as much for your benefit as the customers. I like to write mine and they form my company policy, I follow them, the customer follows them, I know whats going on, they know whats going on. If they deviate I can point them back on course, and if they don’t like it I can end my dealings with them easily.

    Unfortunately there are lots of narcissistic babies out there, and they WILL take advantage of your nonchalance…and when they don’t get what they want you won’t get paid…the alternative is to give them what they want and then you wont make a profit…

    Also I mean you may not be in it for making loads of cash, but the essence of running a good business is processes. The way to make money is to work on your business, not in it…..building processes is the way to do that…

    Anyway maybe I’ve said too much :) Ill shut up now.

    #1018298
    Adam Randall
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    The common term for what you are refering to is scope creep.

    I have developed a web project sheet which is pretty good if I do say so myself.

    As soon as something out of the scope is raised, you need to pounce on it like a wild mountain lion. We have “issue” sheets as part of the project form.

    As soon as something is asked of us outside of the project, we raise a new ticket that needs to be approved seperately.

    Otherwise you end up quoting fairly accurately on a job only to find out that there is an extra 8 hours of work added that you never agreed to do in the first place.

    Seperate the extra work & then get it approved seperately to the main project.

    Do not make the mistake that I seem to recreate over and over of fixing this minor issue because “it will only take me 5 mins” Is a steep slippery slope once this happens that is hard to extract yourself from.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scope_creep

    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-1045555.html

    #1018299
    JohnSheppard
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    Adam Randall, post: 21375 wrote:
    Do not make the mistake that I seem to recreate over and over of fixing this minor issue because “it will only take me 5 mins” Is a steep slippery slope once this happens that is hard to extract yourself from.

    What mechanism to you have in place to solve those ones?
    It’s such a gray area…whats a bug and what isn’t a bug…What are your thoughts on how to prevent that slippery slope?

    I’m not sure myself, it’s hard to say, “well thats $120 for that 5 minutes work.”…in reality I think you have to, but a customer rarely understands that.

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