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Bad Clients and How to Deal With Them

Updated: Mar 25, 2021


Having bad clients do you a lot more harm than good. Sure, you get to add them to the number of clients you have and they can pay for your services as well, but are they really worth it? If they leave you feeling insecure, and damage your self-esteem as an entrepreneur, then the answer is definitely no.


Whether you are a freelancer or working for a company, dealing with bad clients takes a lot more effort and resources than its worth. Remember that you are not the clients’ humble slave, and you are free to avoid them and even refuse politely if they insist.


Before we get into the sour details of bad clients, let’s first identify the qualities that we should look for in our clients. Good clients have these characteristics so even if you encounter some bad ones, rest assured that there are still some good ones out there!


Here are the qualities you should find in a client namely in two categories- in terms of budget and project communication:


Budget:


  • Pays a reasonable price

  • Knows the value of your work

  • Pays on time

  • Doesn’t try to rip you off

  • Gives you freedom when it comes to project costs.

  • Knows that higher quality products/services cost more.

Project Communication:


  • Gives you detailed instructions

  • Knows exactly what he/she wants from you.

  • Isn’t overbearing or fussy whether you’re “doing your job”

  • Communicates politely and with respect

  • Replies to your emails on time

These are the qualities you should seek when finding a new client next time. Not only will you enjoy your work more with these kinds of people, but it’ll also make your job a lot easier!


Now, who are the bad clients? Now we may make them sound like the villainous muggers from an 80’s film, but they are not that different in reality because you lose money when you deal with them, and most of the time you’ll take a blow to your self-esteem. They can be categorized into distinct categories such as The Friend, The Controllers, and The Mr. Krabs.

The Friend


Now, this is all too familiar for those of us who work in the creative industry such as design and arts. You often hear them say, “Hey since we’re buddies can I get a lower price?” with a wide grin on their faces. No matter how close you are, do not entertain clients like these.

Not only do they underappreciate your work, but they will most definitely underpay you as well using that ‘friendship card’ and at times they’ll even guilt trip you with lines like "I thought we were friends…” and the like so be careful not to fall for these traps. Succumbing to these clients will lead to the inevitable fall of your business. Remember, real friends, are those who support your business and appreciate the value of your work all the way!


The Controllers


We will call them The Controllers because this is what they love to do. They think that they are your boss and you are their humble slave. However, it isn’t easy to immediately identify one, so here are the telltale signs that you need to watch out for:


  • Think that they can do it better instead

  • Threatens you with, “I can find somebody better”

  • There is urgency every step of the way

  • Think that they are your most valuable client

  • Criticizes you at every stage

  • Make you feel anxious

  • Makes you doubt your own skills

  • Contacts you too often

The Mr. Krabs


For context, Mr. Krabs is a character from a famous kids’ cartoon and if you’ve watched it, you’ll know that he is the embodiment of being a cheapskate. With them as clients, they’ll try to squeeze as many free services and products from you as they can. Here are their common characteristics and why you should avoid them:


  • Underappreciates your work.

  • Says, “Anybody can do that”

  • Price always comes first

  • Almost never pays on time

  • Always go for the cheapest service or product that they can get

  • Gives you additional tasks that “won’t take you a minute” apparently

  • Tries to rip you off by insisting to get something for free

Do you recognize any of these clients? Just reading about them probably already stresses you out, right? Well, we’ve all been there, but don’t worry because we’ve got more in store for you! These are the thing that you should do to avoid or to handle bad clients if you already have one:


  1. Establish your boundaries. Tell them about your working hours and also put it in your contract. Remind them that you are their partner in helping their business grow. Not just some errand boy or girl. Tell them when to expect a reply from you and when to not call you about the project or tasks.

  2. Get the specific details of the project (mode of delivery, finances, deadlines, and etc.). Repeat it again and again if necessary and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

  3. Get a payment upfront at the beginning of the project especially if it is a new client and they haven’t established that they are good payers yet.

If given multiple tasks, ask your client to rank them by order of importance.


We hope that this article has been and will be helpful for you in choosing and handling your clients in the future! Of course, you won’t be a full-blown expert overnight,  but with these tips in mind, you can be sure that you will be able to identify and avoid bad clients or at the very least, be able to handle them like a pro!



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