How to spot a bad client before it is too late
Welcome to episode 31 The Determined Mom Show. I am your host, Amanda Tento. Thank you so much for listening and reading. I truly appreciate the support of all of you mom business owners. I’ve been getting some great feedback lately on some of the episodes, and if you ever have something you would like to have covered on the determined mom show, I would love for you to reach out to me. You can contact me on Facebook, message me, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So today, we will talk about how to spot a bad client before it is too late. I had 2019 two very high-ticket clients that I had to let go. No one wants to break up with a client, which is very awkward. The one client I worked with for about ten months as a contractor, and it’s just that the business practices did not align with my core values as a person.
I like to be open and honest and not deceptive in any way, and there was some conflict there, and I also had a lot of issues with other things. So I’m going to go ahead and go through a list and just a minute of 10 problems that I had in 2019 with the clients.
Those should have been red flags for me from the beginning and of course they were but I was hesitant to cut it off early because I wanted to give the project a chance. I wanted to go through that process with them and learn about their business and see how I could effectively help them make their business better at the same time.
So these red flags that we’re going to talk about can happen at any time during the client relationship and they should be taken as red flags, the moment that they happen. You should pay attention to them and definitely try to negotiate your way out of the contract, if you’re already in the contract. It just happens to everyone and it’s almost like a natural occurrence.
I know everybody listening has had this happen to them at some point. So I’m going to go ahead and go through the ones that I’ve experienced, that these two clients happened to have a lot in common in terms of red flags.
The first one is they needed me right away. Like they wanted me to start tomorrow. Okay and whenever someone is in one of those situations, they’re not taking the time to evaluate if you’re a good fit for their business, they’re just in a pinch, they’re in a bind.
So they’re going to hire anyone and you came to the top of the list and you want to make sure that you’re going to be the person that is basically giving them what they need, as opposed to what they think they need, if that makes sense. So having them not being evaluated properly, what they’re doing and how they’re hiring and their hiring processes, that’s a red flag right there.
So the second thing is they contacted me too often. So I always set boundaries in the beginning with my clients like; I’m going to be available during this time and this time and this is the way that we’re going to communicate. This is the communication method and if they still cross those boundaries, if they’re still calling you, texting you, emailing you or anything outside of those communication channels that you agreed upon in the beginning and outside of those hours, that’s also an issue.
You don’t want to allow them to do that and allow them to continue to do that. They also wanted to revise wording in my contract or use their own multiple times. So it wasn’t just like, Oh, do you think you could change this one word? It was multiple revisions to the contract or they wanted to use their own contract.
Typically in these types of contractor/client relationships, the contractor that’s providing the service is going to be the one that provides the contract because they are the one providing that service. They’re very familiar with their industry, the terminology and all of those things. So when they want to use their own contract or they revise your wording in your contract multiple times, that is also a red flag.
Bad communication through something that’s not in an organized manner. So maybe they only want to text you and then you always have to get detailed information that you then have to take and put into another form. Like maybe you’re using Trello or click up or something like that as your main hub of information for that project and they’re constantly just using a different form of communication that you agreed on. This will make it 10 times harder for you and it will eventually just stress you out to the max. So I had a client that wanted to use only a Google sheet to communicate and use color coded reply.
So I would reply. She would write in red. I would reply in purple. Her next reply would be in blue. My next reply would be in green. So by the time we were done, it looked like this crazy rainbow colored Google sheet and it gave me such a headache to try to figure out what her last reply was. So definitely difficult. When, you agree on a method of communication initially and it gets changed, then that’s a red flag.
Another red flag, number five is they constantly add layers of work to the project without notice and they expect the rate to stay the same. So when you start out with someone and let’s say you’re doing social media management and they request Instagram management and then the next day they’re like, Oh but I think I should be on Twitter too and then the next day they’re like, Oh yeah, Facebook, I need to have a Facebook page and I think I need to create a couple more pages. They’re making additional requests at the last minute and they don’t want to change the contract. When they add those things on, that’s when you either renegotiate the contract or terminate the contract.
If they don’t use the programs, workflows, the methods that you’ve created to make their company run smoother. So a lot of times as either social media, VAs, marketing managers or any of those things, we tend to try to make their workflows easier. We try to make automations, so then that way they don’t have to go out of their way to do something or do a process or create a process.
If they agree to use these things after we create the workflow or program or method but they refuse to use them, going forward, you’ll talk to them and say: “Hey, do you think you could use this?” Because this is the method that we agreed upon and that we set up for you and they should say yes or come to some stable agreement.
Number seven is they have unrealistic expectations. Then after those expectations are clearly lined out in the initial meetings. If you sit down with them at the beginning and talk about what your expectations are of them, what their expectations should be of the work that you’re doing, you can expect this amount of increase in engagement.
If they have unrealistic expectations, even after they are out-aligned. That is also a huge red flag. So that means that they’re never going to be satisfied with what you do no matter what and would probably be better off cutting your losses at the beginning of that relationship rather than several months down the line.
Another one is that they don’t respect your hours of operation. It’s really important that we have those hours dedicated to our families and activities and things like that. We can’t be answering phone calls or urgent messages and things like that during our off hours. So if they don’t respect your hours of operation, especially from the very beginning, that is a huge red flag.
The ninth one is that they speak poorly of former employees or contractors that work for them. So this is often the case in people that are not really in it for the people, I guess I would say they’re not really interested in having employees that are respected, valued, that are part of the team.
That morale plays a really large part in any type of business management and if that particular person, the owner of the business, the manager, or whoever has hired you to work for them is speaking poorly of any current or former employee, even though they still use them, this is a huge red flag because that just means that whatever you do for them, they’re not going to be happy. They’re not going to be satisfied, and there’s also that potential that they will speak poorly of you when you’re done working with them.
Number 10 is they do not have respect for their clients or customers. So if they see a client or a customer as a dollar sign, if they see a client or customer as a number, if they see a client or customer as someone that doesn’t know any better than to buy their product, that is a huge red flag.
I hope that you found these ten red flags helpful and will use them when evaluating whether or not a client is the right client for you; just because someone is offering you money to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be doing it. I should say money is energy, and if that money brings you negative energy, it is not worth your time. It’s not worth your family or how you can grow your business.
So if you avoid taking on red-flag clients like this, it will allow you to have plenty of money in the long run and plenty of success instead of plenty of stress. So I urge you to use this, and I will have this checklist of 10 red flags of working with clients. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful week.
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Click here to download and use a red flag checklist when booking new clients. If you check more than 3, you may want to reevaluate.