I understand more than anyone, a potential client means potential money and we all have families to provide for. But sometimes, it is worth it to just say “no” to a client.
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Don’t feel obligated to take on every client that is willing to pay your fee for service. Sometimes, it’s not worth it. Time is money. Difficult people take up more of your time, which in turn ends up being more money. Let’s identify these crazies and then I’ll let you in on two awesome examples of phrases you can replicate for these not-so-great clients/potential clients.
ONE | THE STYLE THEY LIKE MAY NOT BE STYLISH
Sometimes, a potential client may have a completely different style than you. And that is okay! Of course, your style is incredible + one of a kind. But not everyone is going to fall in love with it. Just like you don’t fall in love with everyone else’s style. Your uniqueness is what makes your business attractive to so many people.
These are the people that are hard to please. Not because they are unable to be pleased, but because you are unable to give them the style they want. It is worth it to avoid the headache and refer them to someone else with a similar style than to have someone make you feel like what you do is not good enough for them. Because what you do is extraordinary.
TWO | THEY BETTER PULL OUT THE WALLET
If they can’t pay their down payment before you start the project then they won’t pay any payment you ask them to in the future. I learned this the hard way. So just step back and give them a date. Be firm + upfront yet not too pushy. You need to make sure you get paid when you need to get paid. After all, you have bills to pay at the end of the month just like they do.
I know this is a sore subject because most freelancers struggle with this issue. But be confident in your ability to provide them an end product that is worth the time you spent on it. Your time is so, so valuable. You deserve to be paid for the time you spend working for someone else.
THREE | YOU ONLY GET 24 HOURS
There are only 24 hours in a day and you have to sleep. If you currently have a crazy amount of clients, do not take on another one. When I first started my web design business, I would keep piling on more clients thinking surely I could pull it off. Most of the time, I did pull it off. But by pulling off the insanely large client load I missed moments with my husband, family, and friends. I look back and kick myself in the foot because my priorities were not where they should have been.
My solution to this problem was to create a waiting list. This is such a simple solution but you would laugh (pretty hard) at how long it took me to implement something this simple. Another solution I had was to set a maximum capacity number. So during one period, I could only have 4 clients. I would set “due dates” for each client and once the due date had been reached and the project was over, I was able to pull from my waiting list or simply add another however I chose to do so. This ended up being a great help when I needed some balance in my life. I hope you are not in the same place I was when I was doing this insane juggling act.
FOUR | DO THE BRANDS MESH
So you may work with fashion bloggers and design their blogs, loving every second of what you do. But a blogger who blogs about fly fishing shoots you an email asking for an estimate. Your brand does not align with a fly fishing blog. You rock at designing fashion blogs + lifestlye, food blogs because you are involved in that niche every day. It is okay to say no because their blog’s brand does not align with the brand of your design company (or whatever type of awesome company you run!). It is your company at the end of the day, you make the rules, and everyone else has to play by them. Make sure you mesh before you send over that estimate.
FIVE | JERK WAD BUTT FACE
I got really mad one day. I mean, really mad. One of my clients had chewed me out for something I could not control, even after spending more hours than I should have trying to fix it with the third party company. I sat down at dinner with my husband and just cried. I cried because I couldn’t control what happened and I still got blamed. I hated that feeling. I started doubting myself as a business owner. I called them a jerk wad butt face and sat in a pool of self pity.
There were warning signs before I took on this client. I willingly took them on because we really needed money at that time. But was the money worth it? No. No one deserves to be treated poorly or talked down to, no matter the amount of money involved. From then on I obviously set boundaries and had many happy clients after that one faded away. I learned an extremely valuable lesson, though. Always, always, always look for the signs of a jerk wad butt face client because they will bring you down faster than anything I know.
SIX | PERSONALITY ISSUES
At times, I can have a pretty strong personality. I’m the person that wants to best friends with everyone I meet and talk pretty fast. I can come on strong, so I have been told. I’m the exact opposite of quiet + shy, which sometimes doesn’t mesh with people well. I have met clients though and we had an immediate connection. Our initial meeting ended up being longer than expected and we both felt like we were friends by the end. I love stuff like that. I still, to this day, text those clients and ask how their business is going or how their husband is. I have been able to pray for my clients and get to know them on a more personal level (only those who want that, obviously). There have been times after an initial meeting with a potential client that we knew we weren’t a good fit and parted ways. It just happens and that is okay if it does.
You’re not going to mix well with everyone. You are you. Anyone that doesn’t find you agreeable may not be the best choice of a client.
Phrases you can use to say “no” politely to these people that are being difficult:
Having looked at your situation, it seems like you’re looking for something that’s outside the scope of what we do well. I can see you’re looking for a ___, and that’s not really our area of expertise. We tend to get the best results with __ and I’m afraid this may not be the best fit for you. It seems like you’re going to be better off with someone who can make magic with ___, and that’s not really where we shine. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking your money and knowing you’re not getting our best work.
From our consultations so far, it looks like you’re very committed to growing your business. I can see you’re on the fast track, and want to continue getting faster. From what you’ve communicated to me, it seems like you are only comfortable with a guarantee that I can get you results on what I consider to be an extremely aggressive timeframe, and I know this has caused some issues.
I find this very stressful, and it has reached the point where I don’t feel that we’re suitable working together anymore. I don’t feel I can give you what you need, and I feel like our interactions are becoming increasingly combative.
I would love to refer you to someone who could meet your needs more effectively but to be honest, I know of no colleagues who could get meet these deadlines.
These are just two examples that I found on ittybiz.com.
So you may end up taking the client anyways. I have done that before, too. But if you do, make sure to draw up a detailed contract and set their expectations before you begin the project. This way you are protected and the client knows what is expected of them and any boundaries they need to be aware of.
For example, some clients who fall under the “style isn’t the same” category, may ask for endless revisions and will never be content. This is when you need to include in the contract “two rounds of revisions, any revision requests after that will result in additional payments” or something along those lines.
Good luck and I wish only the best clients be magnetized to your brand!
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