8 alarms you have a bad customer
A bad client can not only waste your time creating difficulties that must be solved. There is a great risk of losing money. I have a strong gut instinct for bad customers, and every time I ignored it, it ended badly. Over time, I learned to recognize the signs that led to poor collaboration.
Urgent response request
A client e-mails you at 11pm and is angry at the lack of response, which usually means they haven’t hired anyone before. This lack of experience will manifest itself in other areas of the project and cause additional problems. Learn to effectively manage your customers so they don’t try to manage you.
Make sure you understand exactly how you work, and stick to these guidelines even if you work late. Setting these boundaries is your job; if you don’t, the client may misunderstand you.
Requests for free or trial (unpaid) work
A very common and obviously dishonest trick. If someone doesn’t appreciate the work you do in the beginning, why will they appreciate it later?
A common follow-up to this trick is to act very quickly on the part of the customer to avoid being billed.
The only time this is acceptable is if you have no experience at all. Otherwise, you can reduce your risk by analyzing this example.
Start work without a contract
The contract will give you little more than zero trust. But this is probably the most important thing you should do before getting started. My problem with the treaty is enforcing it – it can cost more than it deserves. For me, this is more of a psychological problem.
Also, starting too quickly means that he will try his luck. Word of mouth allows an unscrupulous customer to promote their claims without invoicing. If he legitimately wants to get started quickly, he will pay an additional urgency fee.
If a customer complains that the fee is too high, it most likely means that he is not going to pay, or it will be difficult for you to get him to pay. A contractual relationship is great for setting mutual expectations in advance, but it comes with additional costs. Don’t trust a contract if you have a bad client. Instead, you can ask for a deposit and break the job up into short portions that can be paid before the job is completed.
A common customer trick in price negotiations is the promise of future work in exchange for a discount. It is a trap. You should only get paid for the work that you agreed to in the contract. You are not a credit institution. This is not necessarily a wake-up call, the client may simply be short on budget – but if so, you may simply be reducing the workload.
If the project is not so important to the client, then there are delays in signing and paying bills. This is why it is important to get to know the client and their business before working together. Find out what the project is for, how it will be used, and how important it is to the client. If you are solving an important problem, then he will respect your boundaries and appreciate the work you do.
Saves on everything
You may not pay attention to this at the beginning, but the savings may appear later. This will show up in things like using Google images instead of buying them from stock. A customer who is saving will probably ask to do some things for free. Before you understand this, you will start to lose money working for him. And the worst option, if he notices the opportunity not to pay for something, for example, if the deadline is missed, he will take advantage of this.
Payment terms more than 30 days
Poor cash flow is killing business. You should aim to get paid within 7 days, and there is no compelling reason not to. If you are dealing with corporate clients, then you have no choice, but I would ask, why the hell to work for these people? Businesses or government-owned companies are the worst customers. Leave them to companies that love to deal with dire problems.
Unclear scope of work
If you don’t understand the scope of work, you run the risk of project creep. You can completely change the amount of work, but remember to finish the work and start from the beginning.
Any small changes will have to be charged additionally. If your client is complaining about this and is delaying the project, then it might be time to quit. This is not as serious a red flag as others, but if it happens repeatedly, you will lose money working with it in the long run.
Best advice to avoid bad clients – listen to your intuition. Most of the time, this feeling is interrupted by our greed or despair. Control this, and don’t hurt yourself later. Strive to grow a sustainable business with good clients and you will enjoy working for them every minute.