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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    Lightbulb I'm going to be your worst client!

    How do you deal with this comment from a new client? Maybe not even a signed and sealed new client, but just a prospect who has passed the tyre kicker, time waster tests and has earned the chance to sit in a face to face meeting with myself or one of my consultants.

    Normally it makes me a little cautious about proceeding (we are very picky with taking on the right clients), but in some cases we have been greeted with this comment and the client (call him client 1) has proven to be a breeze.

    We recently took on a small job for an attorney (call him client 2) who seemed to know what he wanted, spoke straight up, but was obviously not very tech savvy and a bit slow on the uptake with computers and all that goes along with them. You know the questions like "can people in other countries see my website?".

    This particular client (less than even a $xxxx job consisting of 3 pages with less than 1/2 A4 page worth of textual content) has been an absolute nightmare. His design turned out almost horrible since he insisted on sitting looking over my shoulder as I worked and took my beautiful initial design and turned it into a mish mash old school looking design with a print mindset (justified text, right hand blocks of colour serving no purpose etc...).

    He also admittedly can't type very fast and in the maybe 2 emails received from him, they were either typed by the secretary, or about 5 words long. Then he insisted on me calling him after typing lengthy emails to him explaining this that or the other.

    To make matters worse, the phone calls ended up being about an average of 30mins long and accomplished establishing about 5 minutes worth of changes on each call.

    To make matters worse, the client is a really nice guy (I'm not a complete grouch), but I have now told him that enough is enough and we are done as per spec and anything further will be quoted for or charged at an hourly rate.

    I guess the moral of the story is that the statement entitling this thread is not always a warning sign and could be a client possibly testing your reaction to it. Don't throw away a possible good client for a rather cheeky, but ultimately harmless statement.
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  2. #2
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    Sorry, I'm confused the client said they were going to be the worst client and then they were?
    Simon Koldyk - Blog

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    hmm... not well worded... I'll edit...

    Oh, and by the way; the link in your signature appears to be broken.
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  4. #4
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    Okay, after reading it over again (or your edited version) it does make sense. Yes, not everybody that says "that", is going to be a terrible client; but, I don't know if I'd want a client that was testing to see how'd I react. The client should understand that a sucky client isn't worth your time.
    Simon Koldyk - Blog

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    Yes, but my moral was that being as picky as what would normally be considered common sense, could prove to be foolish in the instance where we were given that statement and the client ended up being great.

    It's not always black and white. People are different and their definition of worst is possibly not that bad to us seasoned professionals who know what bad really is.

    The client should understand...
    Thats why we're here to educate them... I wish. It would be a perfect world wouldn't it?
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Very true. Make a good point. Good post.
    Simon Koldyk - Blog

  7. #7
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adesignrsa
    How do you deal with this comment from a new client?
    I'd take them at their word.

    *click*

  8. #8
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    We used to get stressed out about every other client because some would be easy, others would be a nightmare. What we've come to learn is that, you can't always predict how difficult or easy a client will be. What you can do is:

    1. Set a detailed spec. If you think you've got a detailed proposal already, try again. Add about 10 times more detail so they know what they are getting and you know what you should be providing -and- stick to it, don't waver.

    2. Set the expectation with a well concieved plan and process. If you execute your production and project management process the same each time, it becomes easier to educate your clients about what to expect during the sales and requirements gathering process. As an example, we always present two designs and allow three revisions so the client feels that they have a lot of opportunity to direct the outcome of their site (because they do!) but changes are made on paper when we're with the client, not in photoshop. Removing photoshop from the client meeting keeps the design control in the designer's hands and presenting two options focuses their attention on option A or B, not on making useless changes that will distroy the design.

    Overall point is, I feel that process is what will help you out with this. I know this because the last 8 months have been incredible, even with clients that I know would usually be a big nightmare.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    I'd take them at their word.

    *click*
    Hehe, I would probably do that on the first phone call if this was the context of the situation. Maybe I should have made it clearer that these are qualified prospects I am referring to and they have passed our stringent(ish) tests entitling them to a meeting.

    @edgewerx
    Your advice is definitely valuable and we do do what you mention. The problem with this client was that his belt was tighter than a V8's head bolts, he didn't understand computers or the internet and was as pedantic as all hell. We actually made some small amendments to our standard contract for him. I like your methodology of the 2 designs, 3 revisions. Thats written in my Moleskine :P
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    So what you're saying is that he hardly knew anything about computers, yet tried to control what you did with it?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    Correct, but we did advise and we did end up with semantic code, accessibility and a usable site. I just think it looks a bit lame. It's a matter of preference, but I won't be putting it on my portfolio as it'll look amateur.

    One word for it - pedantic!

    On the bright side, he called today and was very congratulatory on our work, asked me if I'm interested in doing sites for other attorneys and his clients and he would put in a good word for us. I pointed him to our project profiler (http://www.adesign.co.za/forms/project-profiler/) and from there we can filter our clients better.
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  12. #12
    Can you describe the ruckus? silver trophy MissLee's Avatar
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    I think the best way to deal with a statement like that is to reply with something like, "Ok, I'm glad you let me know up front; we'll price accordingly." or "That's fine, we have a surcharge for that." and then smile genuinely, move on with the meeting and truly price accordingly!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    hahaha, I like that approach!
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissLee
    I think the best way to deal with a statement like that is to reply with something like, "Ok, I'm glad you let me know up front; we'll price accordingly." or "That's fine, we have a surcharge for that." and then smile genuinely, move on with the meeting and truly price accordingly!
    lol
    great approach!

  15. #15
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    I'd take them at their word.

    *click*

    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  16. #16
    SitePoint Member
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    On the bright side, he called today and was very congratulatory on our work
    It sounds like the client didn't know when the project was over, until you told him "we're done. Extra changes will cost more."

    If that's the case, educating your clients on how you will work together could help. In the design revision example, explaining to him what type of feedback you were looking for would be helpful. Also being quick to explain why you feel that some of his requests are bad from a design perspective.

    He sounds like a nice and resonable guy, he just doesn't know any better. It's your challenge to make sure that your clients understand the rules of the game. Most are willing to learn... and the ones that are not, you should filter out during your sales process and not be working with.

    Glad to hear it has worked out. Best of luck.


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