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-- Professional Webmaster Business Issues
---- You Know You Should "Fire" Your Client When...
iamlost - 9:52 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
filter out the obvious bad apples with a background check.
set up of lines of communication and a basic level of mutual understanding.
write a good contract that clarifies responsibilities, procedures, goals, and penalties.
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.
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. :-)
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