Landing a large company, or even better, a multinational client can really put a feather in your cap and make you feel on top of the world. But, as most things in life, bigger is not always better. So, what can go wrong and what do you do about it?
My breaking points
The first time I fired a client was when I was working with Deloitte. It had been a good relationship for a while, I excused the weekend phone calls as they were mostly good clients.
One project they kept changing the dates, the times, and the venue which was making my scheduling a nightmare. I called my client to explain that the changes had made it virtually impossible to do what was originally agreed and began to offer a solution to which he started screaming and said the one line I will never forget “I am paying you therefore you will do it”. I put the phone down. Took a deep breath and knew this was the last project I would ever do for them. To this day I still don’t know why I finished that project.
What I learned along the way:
- Multinationals are often used to hearing “Yes” more than “No” and if you say No to them they will probably mention their company name several times and recommend you get your head checked.
- They can affect YOUR performance. When a client becomes totally unmanageable by missing deadlines meaning you miss yours or keeps you waiting meaning you run late or is impossible to pin down. YOUR performance is affected.
If they are your only client then you can wait but I’m sure you have better things to do with your time!
- Their expectations are too high.I’ve had clients feel that I don’t need to do basic things like eat and sleep because I am a small business owner and things need to be done overnight. Or they want more than what was agreed as a freebie. When a client wants something NOW and you manage to deliver, defying all sense of time and rationality to then realise they SIT. ON. IT. FOR. 2. WEEKS. And, guess what, they still aren’t happy! The only person at fault was the person who didn’t say NO.
- It’s important to remember that work is work, the minute it starts affecting you, your business and your personal life it’s time to send that client packing.
So what do you do? Well, most will say FIRE the client but if that is not an option you could go with Gini Dietrich’s suggestion which is to outline your expectations of your client with them so they know what to expect and vice-versa.
This is a great solution BEFORE it reaches the point of no return when you just can’t stand the client’s voice on the other end of the phone.
Obviously the best approach would be to never hire the client, yes we hire clients just as much as they hire us and never enter a business relationship with them.
Just like Marcus did, give them back their deposit, if you took one and wave them goodbye.
Everyone has their own breaking point – the point where they say “Enough is enough” and turn round to the client and say “life is too short to deal with clients like you.”