Here’s how to differentiate a “good” client from a “not-so-good” client.
Clients are the lifeblood of self-employment. Without clients, self-employed professionals like myself cannot survive. Yet not all clients are created equal — let me explain.
Everything You Need to Know About Good and Not-So-Good Clients
I believe there are two types of clients: good and not-so-good. A “good” client generally displays the following traits:
- Honesty: A good client provides honest feedback and wants honest feedback in return. In this scenario, a good client and a self-employed professional can maintain honest, open communication, resulting in a successful long-term partnership.
- Diligence: A good client pays a fair rate based on a self-employed professional’s expertise. This client also issues payment to a self-employed professional immediately after a project is completed.
- Empathy: A good client strives to understand a self-employed professional’s perspective. Although a good client and a self-employed professional won’t always agree, both parties understand one another and work together to achieve common goals.
Comparatively, a “not-so-good” client often displays these traits:
- Selfishness: A not-so-good client is all about me, myself and I, and as such, usually fails to account for the time, costs and resources required to complete a successful project. He or she is unwilling to accept criticism, won’t take accountability for mistakes and deflects blame onto others.
- Stubbornness: A not-so-good client believes he or she is right — regardless of circumstances. Additionally, a not-so-good client refuses to listen to facts or reason and maintains resolute adherence to his or her beliefs.
- Lack of Respect: A not-so-good client may resort to yelling, screaming and insults to get what he or she wants. This client may also delay payment or refuse to pay a self-employed professional following a project’s completion. Perhaps worst of all, a not-so-good client sees a self-employed professional as a vendor — not a partner.
Self-employed professionals want good clients and want to avoid not-so-good ones. To build positive client relationships, I offer the following recommendations:
- Understand the client’s perspective. Learn about a client and his or her expectations before you accept a new project. Also, ask questions and find out exactly what a project encompasses. Once you understand the client’s perspective, you can determine if you can fulfill his or her expectations.
- Open the lines of communication. Make yourself available to a client via phone, Skype, FaceTime, email and text. That way, if a client has a problem, he or she should have no trouble getting in touch with you. And in this instance, you and your client can resolve any issue before it sours the relationship.
- Be courteous and polite. Try to maintain a positive attitude and outlook — even if a client provides harsh criticism. Remember, your goal is to build a long-term relationship that benefits both you and your client. To achieve this goal, practice the “Golden Rule” and treat your client in the same way you expect to be treated.
As a self-employed professional, there is only so much you can do to keep a client happy. If you feel like you’ve done everything in your power to fulfill your client’s requests and your client is still not satisfied with a project’s results, tell him or her how you feel. And if you cannot find common ground, it may be best for both you and your client to separate.
The Bottom Line on Good and Not-So-Good Clients
To date, I’ve worked with good and not-so-good clients. I feel like I’ve helped transform a few not-so-good clients into good ones as well. My client experiences shape who I am as a self-employed professional, and they likely will continue to do so going forward.
I believe a good client brings happiness because he or she cares about a self-employed professional in the same way a self-employed professional cares about his or her client. On the other hand, I believe a not-so-good client makes it tough for a self-employed professional to be happy.
So, here’s my recommendation: if you are working with a good client, cherish him or her. Treat this client like gold, and he or she probably will treat you the same way.
Conversely, if you are working with a not-so-good client, take a deep breath, stay calm, cool and collected and try to get the most out of the relationship. Perhaps most important, be yourself — because if you stay true to yourself, you can find a way to overcome the negativity of a not-so-good client.