10 Warning Signs That a Prospective Client Is Not Right for You
In difficult economic times it is easy to let go of standards and take on a client who does not fit your vision of your ideal client. When few clients are in the pipeline it often looks attractive to take the ones that show up. When you do this you run the risk of having an angry client or worse one who is out a real energy drainer. Here are ten warning signs that tell you to avoid the client.
1. The project is not in your area of expertise.
The prospect has a seemingly simple matter. You could do it but it is outside your practice area. It may be easy or it may look easy because of your lack of experience. If it is outside your practice area it will take you extra time to understand the issues and do the work necessary. Use your time to solidify your brand and practice area(s) not something that will require research and study to learn something you are not used to doing and may never have a need for again.
2. Conflicts with other cases you or other members of your firm are working on.
Both #1 and #2 should be done during the screening call which in most practices can be done by a staff member.
3. Scope of the work is not right for you at this time.
The case might be too large or too complex. It might have a time frame that is not possible for you to handle given your resources. These are opportunities for you to refer the work to another designer or ask another designer to do the pieces of the work that are more than you can handle.
4. Client's expectations are not in line with reality.
Be clear about what is possible, how you work, and what you expect from the client. Don't take on a client who wants you to do something you are not comfortable with or will put you under pressure that you do not want.
5. The client does not have the money or is unwilling to pay you a reasonable fee.
Watch out for clients who argue about your fee, do not want to give you a retainer, or will not agree on a payment schedule.
6. You get a feeling in your gut that this client will be difficult for you to work with.
It may feel illogical. You may not be able to articulate a reason but a red flag goes up as you are talking with the prospective client.
7. The client has had several other designers work on the matter.
This is a huge red flag. There usually is a reason that other designers have left the case. Carefully question the client and the other designers before you take on the client.
8. The client is unreliable and/or demanding.
Clients that are late for meetings, don't show up for meetings and/or expect immediate attention are going to make working for them difficult and unpleasant. They will always have excuses for their lateness or need to rush. If you take them on as your client, expect to hear a lot of excuses.
9. Client requests that you skip steps to lower his/her costs.
Once you have standards of procedure for your practice, do not allow a client to influence you to lower them. That said some clients do need to lower costs and may ask if there are ways the client can do some of the work him/herself. Only agree to this if it is something you are comfortable with and if this appears to be a reliable client, someone who meets the other nine criteria.
10. Client does not listen to you and does not seem to understand initial instructions
Clients need to work with you on their project. They will need to collect information, show up for appointments and handle issues as you recommend. Prospective clients who seem distracted or are more interested in telling you the gory details without listening to you, will behave that way while you are working on their project. Determine if the time necessary to get through to them is worth the effort.
By Alvah Parker
Photography by Gonzobrum
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys' Coach) and a Career Changers' Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com/samples.html and receive a values assessment as a gift. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values.Parker's Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition who want to find work that is in line with their own life purpose. Alvah is found on the web at http://www.asparker.com. She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.