WebmasterWorld has a featured thread named Three Warning Signs of a Nightmare Client. I find this thread very important for most business owners to read. I have been living by these signs for a long time now and I believe it works well. So what are the three warning signs of a bad client?
"I need to do this as cheap as possible"
If price comes up right away in a phone call or email, I am not afraid to tell them. I know my company does not offer cheap services and if they are looking for cheap services, then they will tell me we are over budget. The thing is, when I give a price and then they try to pick it apart. "Well, if I just wanted this piece, how much would that only cost?" I tell them that we do not build sites in "pieces" if you want to use us, we build out the site from scratch. Now that is me and most companies do work on portions of sites. But having this policy, of only working on brand new sites, makes it much easier to say no to the "cheap client."
"I need it yesterday"Good thing we are busy, I tell them an ETA of a few months and then they jet. Anyone who needs it yesterday, and seriously needs it yesterday, has not properly done their planning. If they have and they have the budget to cover expedited services, then go for it, if you want the stress. But often, the stress is not worth it.
"My current web designer won't call me back"This is classic and I have fell for it in the past. I got a big brand client, who hired us and soon we learned that the design they are using was from another design firm. The thing is, any changes we want to make to the design, we had to do on our own. The design firm was not available to make those changes on our behalf. That made me think, why? Guess what, 75-percent through the project the client became horrible to work with. The deliverables were not there, the people in the company did not respond to our needs and we had a deadline to meet for the VP. What happened? I gave them a full refund and walked away. Learned a lesson and moved on. Why a full refund? That is just how we operate and we are fortunate enough to be able to do that.
It is often not feasible to walk about from a project 75% through, so it is important to look at these warning signs.
Let me be clear, after they become a client and do continued work for you. You can expect that the client may want to cut some costs and have the occasional "need it yesterday" email or call. That is expected. And since they are a client, you do your best to meet those needs. Building a client base is also about building a relationship. You want the best for your client as you do for yourself. So you work through these times with them. But before you have established a relationship with a client, they should not be asking you for the above three, in my opinion.
Continued forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.