homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 23.20.19.131
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Pubcon Platinum Sponsor 2014
Visit PubCon.com
Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Professional Webmaster Business Issues
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: LifeinAsia & httpwebwitch

Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

    
You Know You Should "Fire" Your Client When...
When should you give up on difficult clients?
stuntdubl




msg:793614
 6:24 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a supplement to:
You know you have lost a client when... [webmasterworld.com]

I thought it would be interesting to see when you should give a client the boot. I've had some real PITA clients, and while money is nice, sometimes it isn't worth the hassle.

My number one flag that I should give a client the boot is:

  • They wine about my pricing, or claim their nephew could do it

    Other reasons include:

  • Clients who are disrespectful
  • Clients who insist on micromanaging

    The customer IS NOT ALWAYS right:)
    What are some reasons that you would "fire" a client?
    -or-
    What are some reasons you would not take on a client in the first place?

    [edited by: stuntdubl at 6:30 pm (utc) on May 27, 2004]

  •  

    stevenmusumeche




    msg:793615
     6:28 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Clients who try to nickel and dime you on pricing.. a neccisary evil in this business, but still one of the things I hate the most.

    PCInk




    msg:793616
     6:49 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    > not take on a client in the first place?

    When they don't allow you to do a full job. i.e. - they want to choose the webhost, buy the domain name and get other companies to do other little jobs which then creates more difficulty and expense for you.

    Or, they are not helpful at providing enough information about their requirements or at providing content.

    beckie




    msg:793617
     6:51 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    They ask you to do a 'quick' update and then you bill them your hourly rate. They complain that it was a 1 minute 'copy and paste' project and they shouldn't have to pay $xx for that.

    I don't mind doing it every once in awhile for free, but when they ask to do it on a weekly basis and don't want to sign up for a weekly maintenance plan, it gets out of hand.

    pleeker




    msg:793618
     8:01 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    What are some reasons that you would "fire" a client?

    When the client's expectations become unreasonable and/or impossible to meet.

    When the client's check bounces. :)

    What are some reasons you would not take on a client in the first place?

    Similar reasons ... if we don't feel we can help them, we don't take the project. If we don't feel the effort will be worth the revenue, we don't take the project.

    I don't mind doing it every once in awhile for free, but when they ask to do it on a weekly basis and don't want to sign up for a weekly maintenance plan, it gets out of hand.

    Our pricing scheme is different, beckie, in that we don't sell weekly or monthly maintenance plans. All maintenance is done and billed based on actual time.

    But ... what we tell clients may be something you can use ... "We won't nickel-and-dime you by charging for every little 5-minute update, unless you nickel-and-dime us by sending lots of little 5-minute updates."

    jmbishop




    msg:793619
     9:13 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I used to work with a designer from time to time and there was a huge learning curve with her as she would provide me with a layered Photoshop file and want me to make it into a webpage for her clients.

    So at the start of every project there was a lot of back and forth over what could be done and couldn't. Then she would whine that she knew the client was tight on funds so she would ask for discounts which I begrudgingly granted as I felt the continued stream of revenue was worth it.

    I also lowered my hosting rates for her clients.

    Well one day one of her clients had a technical question she couldn't answer and wasn't doing a good job relaying to me so she had her client phone me directly.

    Well we got to talking and he mentioned that for what I charged I should come to his office and perform the work there. I asked him what he meant. And we got into a huge discussion over what he was being charged.

    Turns out she was marking my work up 300% and while I was charging her $19.95 for the hosting she was billing them at $50.00 a month. This is the one that really pissed me off because she was making $30.00 pure profit for doing nothing and I was maybe making $6.00 for being responsible for the whole kit-n'-kaboodle...

    I ended up cutting ties with her and so far I've gained 3 of her former clients who are much happier now that they aren't getting gouged.

    robotsdobetter




    msg:793620
     9:42 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    When they go out of town AND don't tell you

    When they are calling and/or emailing you all the time

    When you just don't like them. LOL

    I used to work with a designer from time to time and there was a huge learning curve with her as she would provide me with a layered Photoshop file and want me to make it into a webpage for her clients.
    So at the start of every project there was a lot of back and forth over what could be done and couldn't. Then she would whine that she knew the client was tight on funds so she would ask for discounts which I begrudgingly granted as I felt the continued stream of revenue was worth it.

    I also lowered my hosting rates for her clients.

    Well one day one of her clients had a technical question she couldn't answer and wasn't doing a good job relaying to me so she had her client phone me directly.

    Well we got to talking and he mentioned that for what I charged I should come to his office and perform the work there. I asked him what he meant. And we got into a huge discussion over what he was being charged.

    Turns out she was marking my work up 300% and while I was charging her $19.95 for the hosting she was billing them at $50.00 a month. This is the one that really pissed me off because she was making $30.00 pure profit for doing nothing and I was maybe making $6.00 for being responsible for the whole kit-n'-kaboodle...

    I ended up cutting ties with her and so far I've gained 3 of her former clients who are much happier now that they aren't getting gouged.


    Really a nice story, a real happy ending! :)

    iamlost




    msg:793621
     9:52 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I approach your questions differently (as I do most things!). My methods mean that I rarely have to worry about either:

    Good clients are determined by an appropriate background check. And bad prospects never (hopefully) become clients. Good client relationships are maintained by good communication and good contracts.

    The client is always right while they are my client.

    They are paying the bill and are entitled to what they want (barring ethical/legal improprieties). When the original RFP is below my personal quality level or the client is above my irritation threshold it is my right to forgo the job.

    Change orders to the contract (you do have a well written contract - right?) are subject to separate and additional charges:

    1. When each "change" or "helpful suggestion" results in an immediate "Change Order Memorandum of Understanding" listing the change(s), including additional costs and time, and requiring the client's signed acceptance, such occurances decline sharply.
    2. Should proposed changes be problematic (qualitatively, ethically, legally) the presented costs can often be a deterent. And, of course, the changes can be refused on appropriate grounds. Did I mention the importance of a good contract?
    3. When the client is responsible for supplying content or hosting or whatever and a problem arises, and it usually does, before touching it with a 10 metre (32.8' in American) pole diplomatically inform the client one of:
      • the penalty provisions of the existing contract more than compensate for my time wasted waiting on them to supply as required.
      • transfer of responsibility for the problem(s) is outside of the current contract but I will be pleased (or not, as the case may be) to submit an additional separate contract to cover the new proposal, work to begin on signing.

    4. After completion maintenance/changes are either in an existing contract or subject to setting out a new one. I do no work outside of a written contract, except for my mother ;-)

    The above points of conflict are common "bad" client behaviour in our business. The short solutions appear rude and apt to upset the client. What you don't see is the communication groundwork.
    1. filter out the obvious bad apples with a background check.
    2. set up of lines of communication and a basic level of mutual understanding.
    3. write a good contract that clarifies responsibilities, procedures, goals, and penalties.
    4. take a deep breath (I go for a three mile run ending with a hill climb sprint) before replying to the idiot-of-the-moment. Always be professional.
    5. always be prepared and able (every contract needs an exit clause) to walk away.

    At that point they are no longer a client and become very, very, wrong. :-)

    Easy_Coder




    msg:793622
     11:39 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Here's 2...

    1) When the customer routinely pays invoices extremely late.

    2) When everyone in the customer's organization has trouble grasping their own business rules. Sometimes this creates opportunity but if the folks are just plain stupid... well then you've got a monster on your hands that at times just isn't worth the money.

    DXL




    msg:793623
     3:24 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I'm usually broke, so no matter how much certain clients irritate me, I have to deal with it (if the money is worth it, anyway).

    I don't like it when people complain about pricing when I'm already charging them half or a fourth of what another company would. You're already getting a great deal and you are going to complain about it? In situations like that, I walk.

    When clients don't send you the content you need from them to update your site, and then call and ask why their site isn't up to speed. Or when the contact person (not the person who cuts the check) doesn't give you content you need and then tries to tell their boss that its you who is dragging his feet on the project.

    When clients email you a photo at night with no warning and then call you up an hour later to ask if you added to their site yet.

    When clients feel the need to call you every single day to spend 30 minutes discussing what could have been answered in 2 minutes by email.

    mil2k




    msg:793624
     4:22 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I wish I could share my views :(

    sanity




    msg:793625
     7:21 am on Jun 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

    "We won't nickel-and-dime you by charging for every little 5-minute update, unless you nickel-and-dime us by sending lots of little 5-minute updates."

    Love it! Think I might use it myself.

    sazhazman




    msg:793626
     4:58 am on Jun 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Fire them when they call you 2 - 3 times a day (including weekends) starting the day after contract signing because they think it will speed up the development process (true story).

    I fired him after the 3rd week, cheerfully refunding his deposit minus time spent on the phone.

    mcpjon




    msg:793627
     7:00 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    They call you knowingly, while you are on your honeymoon, expecting you to spend "a few moments" making updates on their system and adding a couple of new ideas they came up with while on their vacation.

    john_k




    msg:793628
     7:03 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    They call you knowingly, while you are on your honeymoon, expecting you to spend "a few moments" making updates on their system and add a couple of new ideas they came up with while on their vacation.

    reply to client: Did I metion that my very VERY new spouse is a hacker with a temper and an odd sense of humor?

    digitalv




    msg:793629
     7:18 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    When they don't allow you to do a full job. i.e. - they want to choose the webhost, buy the domain name and get other companies to do other little jobs which then creates more difficulty and expense for you.

    Really? I would think most designers wouldn't want to mess with that stuff. I know I wouldn't - why bother with hosting and domain registrations when you can pass that along to some other company? When their e-mail isn't working, not your problem, call someone else. When their site is down, not your problem, call someone else. When their domain expires because they didn't pay for it, not your problem, call someone else.

    beckie




    msg:793630
     7:55 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Really? I would think most designers wouldn't want to mess with that stuff. I know I wouldn't - why bother with hosting and domain registrations when you can pass that along to some other company? When their e-mail isn't working, not your problem, call someone else. When their site is down, not your problem, call someone else. When their domain expires because they didn't pay for it, not your problem, call someone else.

    I don't mind offering support for domain registrations - I also offer my clients hosting. They don't really contact me too much regarding email issues - I have a great knowledge base for them to go through and set things up themselves. My clients like this because they only deal with me instead of 4+ different companies. Offering management of domain registrations and hosting brings in some extra $$$$ too.

    PatrickDeese




    msg:793631
     8:13 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    One of my clients this weekend hired an "email promoter" that blasted out a couple of 10 thousand emails for their business - which were not can spam compliant and resulted in a notice from my hosting co that my reseller's account would be suspended if it happened again.

    I suspended their site, pulled my "designed by" credits from it, burned it to a CD, and handed it to them this morning.

    mcpjon




    msg:793632
     8:17 pm on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

    reply to client: Did I metion that my very VERY new spouse is a hacker with a temper and an odd sense of humor?

    I like it...

    crosenblum




    msg:793633
     4:12 pm on Jul 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

    1. Thats why I always set up content systems so i never got to do content changes.

    2. I never start any projects unless i got full nail-biting details of exactly everything they want. If they miss something, then the whole project stops, until they iron out missing details.

    3. Never offer to do content changes, always train their people to do it. After all you are a Designer/Developer not a content/merchandising person, which has to be the clients role.

    4. Document any and all code/design changes, give an estimate of time/money, explain it is only an estimate, then get in WRITING that they accept this estimate.

    After the work started and they start complaining bout time or cost, remind them of their SIGNED CONTRACT. If they choose to cancel, they still have to pay project minimum costs, then UNDO the work you started.

    After all if they don't want to pay, why should they get the work for free.

    5. Mutual Respect, respect them, but make sure they respect your time, energy and effort. If they don't explain, that you'll only work with professional clients.

    JohnKelly




    msg:793634
     12:08 am on Jul 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

    When they say "can you do it in your spare time (for free implied)"....

    My stock answer is "I don't have much spare time - and you should see what I charge for it!"

    Global Options:
     top home search open messages active posts  
     

    Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Professional Webmaster Business Issues
    rss feed

    All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
    Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
    WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
    © Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved