At some point in your business, you’re going to have to fire a client. And it’s going to feel amazing when you do it. But, what about if you want to just avoid clients from hell entirely?
I’ve written some songs and blogs about how it’s good to fire a client. But I’m Canadian. I would like to avoid conflict at all costs, so I just watch out for these 7 signs that a person is probably a client from hell.
Sign #1: Nit-pickin
They’re picking my services like à la carte. I have packages, and they’ll be like “I would actually not like this one. I would like this instead.” And some of it’s not what I actually offer. The reason I’ve developed packages is because I’ve worked with enough people to know what people actually need, not what they don’t need. So when they start picking à la carte, I start thinking hmm maybe a client from hell?
Sign #2: Nickel and diming
They start à la carting with nickel and diming. They’ll be like, “Maybe I don’t need this, but I could use this, and then maybe you could give me a deal on this by giving me this.” I’m like hmm, no, this is a client from hell. This is where it begins. Then later, they’ll be like, “Could you add this to this?” It sends up what they call in the freelance world “scope creep” where suddenly you’re doing more than you originally intended. Then you don’t know how to bring it up with a person that this isn’t involved in your contract. If you want to, it’s going to cost you more. No, client from hell.
Sign #3: Money issues
If they express that they’re having a hard time paying all their bills, you think this would be kind of an odd thing for people to disclose to you, but they sometimes do. Of course, people are hesitant about paying. They can’t be sure whether they can afford you, and they have to go back and think about it. That’s totally normal. When someone is telling you they can’t really pay their rent, hmm, don’t do it! Client from hell. They’re probably a very nice person; they’re just not going to pay you. So no.
Sign #4: Constant complainer
If they complain about a previous provider, if they’re kind of talking about how this person did it wrong, and it didn’t work out, sometimes that’s a sign that it’s actually them, not their previous providers. That’s a little client from hell.
Sign #5: Invisible, yet demanding
They don’t actually want to meet with you. They just want you to do it. They’ll just send you an email and be like “I need this done right away!” And you’ve never met them. There are no details, and they don’t have time for you. Client from hell, no, no, no, don’t touch that with a ten-foot pole. Run the other way.
Sign #6: Demanding, yet unresponsive
They express really odd turnarounds, results you just can’t get them. They want it now. Then you ask a couple questions and they don’t email you back. It’s a little different than somebody who doesn’t have time to meet with you, just a little, but their expectations are a little strange. No, avoid them. Client from hell.
Sign #7: You just have THAT feeling
Your gut says no. This can be a hard one because sometimes you need the money. You’re like oh, I really need the money, and this person is willing to pay me. Maybe they’re going to be okay. No, no, no, this person is going to cost you money to work with them. It’s going to be so painful if you’ve ever worked with a client from hell, it is pure hell working with them. You can’t afford to work with them.
Trust your gut. This is one of those moments, where you just have to bet on yourself. You’re down, and you think maybe they aren’t a client from hell, maybe they’re okay. No. Trust your gut. Trust your gut because you will pay otherwise. If you look back at your past, any time you’ve not listened to your gut, you’ll see you paid for it.
Those are my seven signs of the client from hell. Avoid them at all costs. And if you can’t, then you’re just going to have to fire them. And I’ve got a song for that.