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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot willoworks's Avatar
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    How to gracefully decline a job

    I have a customer I have worked for in the past who wants a new site. The problem is she is adamant about some things I really can't deal with. The site is aimed at finding sponsors for a non-profit group. She wants HUGE text done in comic font, and has had a friend do some pretty crappy flash stuff which she wants on each page, plus she wants to page to automatically load each successive page - with no thought to how long it will take the viewer to finish the page they are on.

    She is a very nice lady, but I can't see me wasting time on this project. How do I gracefully bow out!?

  2. #2
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    I find honesty to be the best policy. Not brutally honest of course, but just explain that you have philisophical differences that are not lilely to be overcome. You are the consultant in this case, and if she is second guessing your advice then there is really not much you can do at this point.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    If the pay is decent you could always just do it, but just don't list it in yoru portfolio.
    Sara

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Explain and offer advice on the 'better' way to approach the project (as that is your job as a consultant). If after listening to your advice she is adamant on doing it her way, tell her you can't do that job as it would be unethical to produce a site you know will fail.

    Or you could do it anyway, just for the money...but remember that she'll probably go round telling people that you designed her site for her - not the best referral you'll ever get.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard DougBTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    Or you could do it anyway, just for the money...but remember that she'll probably go round telling people that you designed her site for her - not the best referral you'll ever get.
    No no no, referrals are better than no referrals, they'll never get refered if you don't do the site. The problem is that any referrals will probably want a site like the one they say when they were referred. That means that they'll want the crappy flash too, the big fonts, etc etc. (Double size fonts are OK though. See: http://37signals.com/)

    One client is morelikely to refer clients with the same aesthetics, same demands. You don't want to get stuck here.

    How to actually say no? Like this:

    "No thanks, I can't take this project on right now."

    If you are feeling extra nice, you could refer the client to someone else who would do it. Atleast you don't leve them out on the streets that way.

    Douglas
    Hello World

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougBTX
    No no no, referrals are better than no referrals, they'll never get refered if you don't do the site.
    Each to their own I guess - I wouldn't like to assume that all this persons' buisness associates have the same poor taste as her. They may just as likely be asking who designed her site so that they could avoid them.

    Referrals at the expense of reputation doesn't sound that great to me. You'll earn a lot more money in the long run if people come to you because you are a primo quality consultant with a top notch portfolio and a rep for giving out sound guidance and advice to your clients - that's when you can charge top dollar for your services.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru Marubozo's Avatar
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    I have a few customers like this, they are downright annoying and difficult to work with. For me, declining the work and saving some of my sanity is worth more. I typically just say "Sorry, I'm swamped with work right now, I don't think I'd be able to touch your project for XX weeks". Since they usually want something done now and not later, they understand. Then, I offer them some contacts I have who might be willing to do the project. That way I'm not being brutal and just saying no, and leaving them high and dry. I at least give them other options.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard DougBTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    Each to their own I guess - I wouldn't like to assume that all this persons' buisness associates have the same poor taste as her. They may just as likely be asking who designed her site so that they could avoid them.
    I'd expect a referral based on how pleased the client was with the results, rather than with what the results actually were. (Perception vs reality.) With that in mind, I would do the project in a way to keep her happy now, but also in the future: it would have to be good, because if one of her friends pointed out it was a poor site, she would now be a client feeling ripped off and no longer pleased, so the original goal would not have been fully achieved. That, or I wouldn't do the project.

    I think we are have a similar view, with the exception that my hypothetical "associates" wouldn't even ask who did the site if they didn't like it themselves.

    Douglas
    Hello World

  9. #9
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willoworks
    I have a customer I have worked for in the past who wants a new site. The problem is she is adamant about some things I really can't deal with. The site is aimed at finding sponsors for a non-profit group. She wants HUGE text done in comic font, and has had a friend do some pretty crappy flash stuff which she wants on each page, plus she wants to page to automatically load each successive page - with no thought to how long it will take the viewer to finish the page they are on.

    She is a very nice lady, but I can't see me wasting time on this project. How do I gracefully bow out!?
    Be respectfully busy and suggest a cooling-off period:

    "I would love to work with you again on this project, but unfortunately I am hopelessly tied up with other obligations for the next several weeks/months/years/lifetimes; my current backlog simply doesn't permit me right now to dedicate the attention I'd prefer to your project, and I'd very much rather not shortchange you on that level.

    "Can your website project wait until approximately July 2026? I should be free enough by then to give it the attention it deserves. If not, I can recommend alternative and quicker options through another vendor."

    If she goes with the recommendation, warn your referral she's coming. It's bad business to literally dump bad clients on competitors.

    If you don't have a recommendation handy, you can instead offer to give her solid advice on how best to find one and to avoid getting cheated on bad ones.

    If she wants to wait, thank her for her business and then use the intervening time to ask her lots of questions, getting down to the heart of what she's trying to achieve. Gradually and diplomatically suggest better paths to success. Done right, she'll be in your pocket by the time your schedule "frees up".

  10. #10
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    I'll have to file that away for later use!

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    Be respectfully busy and suggest a cooling-off period:

    "I would love to work with you again on this project, but unfortunately I am hopelessly tied up with other obligations for the next several weeks/months/years/lifetimes; my current backlog simply doesn't permit me right now to dedicate the attention I'd prefer to your project, and I'd very much rather not shortchange you on that level.

    "Can your website project wait until approximately July 2026? I should be free enough by then to give it the attention it deserves. If not, I can recommend alternative and quicker options through another vendor."

    If she goes with the recommendation, warn your referral she's coming. It's bad business to literally dump bad clients on competitors.

    If you don't have a recommendation handy, you can instead offer to give her solid advice on how best to find one and to avoid getting cheated on bad ones.

    If she wants to wait, thank her for her business and then use the intervening time to ask her lots of questions, getting down to the heart of what she's trying to achieve. Gradually and diplomatically suggest better paths to success. Done right, she'll be in your pocket by the time your schedule "frees up".
    Sara


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