Why You Absolutely Must Send Your Bad Clients Packing
In a perfect world you’d work with perfect clients to create perfect results and everybody’s happy.
Too bad we live in the real world.
In the real world, not everybody’s going to be a good fit for each other. Sometimes expectations are out of alignment with the reality of what you can do for your clients, or what your clients are expecting in contrast to what they’re willing to give for it.
I’ve worked with clients who turn out to be overly demanding. It’s a strategy that has gotten them what they want in the past, but what they’re really doing is expecting more for what they’ve agreed to give.
There’s a word for that. . . stealing!
You wind up giving up your nights & weekends to meet unrealistic expectations. Who winds up suffering for it? Not the client! You’ve given them your time & sanity to go above and beyond the contract, and they’re still not happy with the work. They’ve stolen your happiness. You’ve allowed them to take away time with your friends, your family, your partner, and your own self respect.
I once worked on a website I was building for a client on Valentine’s Day because I thought it would be done that night and I would get paid. Turns out it wasn’t “finished” for another 4 months. (More on this later in this article.)
Here are a couple things to think about in your business, and the people you work with.
1: Some People Are Simply Overly Demanding
They’ve gotten used abusing the “customer is always right” approach to business, so they nitpick & create problems where there aren’t any as a way to justify unreasonable demands. You can never please them. It’s never enough, and it’s not about you.
2: Some Clients Are Black Holes
It sounds awful, but it’s true. Their approach of demanding more than has been agreed upon has worked for them in the past, so why won’t it work now? They are hell-bent on taking as much as they can for as little as they can give. You could devote 200% of your time to them alone, and it’ll still not be enough. (You’ve done it, in fact, and how well did that go for you?)
3: Awful Clients Keep You From The Real Work
Every minute you stay in a business relationship that doesn’t serve you is two minutes you’re not spending with the right client. There are clients who would be an exact fit for your expertise. They will listen to what you have to say, they will put in the work, and they will respect your guidance. Every ill-fitting client you keep is an
opportunity distraction that’s costing you the possibility of working with your hero clients.
So why don’t you move on?
It boils down to fear.
You’re afraid to lose the client
Maybe this is the only client you have. Or maybe they’re the biggest fish on your line, and you need the money. No matter what shape that takes, it’s because you’re afraid you won’t be able to find a better fit.
You’re bad at establishing healthy boundaries
In the case of working on the website over Valentine’s Day, I have to take 100% responsibility for my lack of establishing clear boundaries. I hadn’t taken the time to communicate the scope of the work. I didn’t give the clear outline of 3 revisions before paying for each change from that point forward. You can’t just expect someone to know those things; you have to teach people how to be a good client.
You think they’ll change
“Once they see how good the work is, they’ll suddenly value all the nights and weekends I’ve spent!” Wrong. They don’t know how much time you’ve spent. You can tell them, but you’re the one who lived through it; they can’t fully understand what you’ve given. Besides; they’re not paying for your time. They’re paying for the results.
Not everybody is meant to work together. Whether it’s because you lack the skills to create & maintain healthy boundaries like I did, or they’re simply an unreasonable black hole of “never good enough” there are some people you simply shouldn’t work with.
Do yourself, your friends, your partner, and your clients a huge favor; send the bad relationships packing so you have time for the perfect fit!
Need help learning how to create, maintain, and repair healthy boundaries? Let’s work together!