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Thread: Difficult clients

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Difficult clients

    When I worked in the public sector I had to deal with difficult politicians and members of the public. In both instances I was always able to justify why they were being dumb or acting difficult.

    Not that I am in the private sector, and working for other professional planners and developers I have run across a difficult client who has hired me to do a set of tasks, yet refuses to listen to our advice and insists on dumbing things down every chance they can. Just wondering how you deal with difficult clients, especially those in the public sector?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Provide them your recommendations. When they want changes, give them the changes. When the project is over, walk away.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
         
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    Hi Donk, I agree with Cardinal but take it a step further by walking away permanently from the client. If at a future date the same client comes back to your company either:

    a) State to the client " Unfortunately our firm has recently taken on some large commitments and we are too busy"; or,

    b) Quote the client with a contract amount that is about 30 percent higher than your competition. Note that they make pay the higher fee but then you would be eligible for higher "combat pay". In my private sector experience, the clients that create the most trouble are the same ones that try to pay the least for professional services.

    Keep smiling!

    Best wishes.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Siskiyou View post
    Hi Donk, I agree with Cardinal but take it a step further by walking away permanently from the client. If at a future date the same client comes back to your company either:

    a) State to the client " Unfortunately our firm has recently taken on some large commitments and we are too busy"; or,

    b) Quote the client with a contract amount that is about 30 percent higher than your competition. Note that they make pay the higher fee but then you would be eligible for higher "combat pay". In my private sector experience, the clients that create the most trouble are the same ones that try to pay the least for professional services.

    Keep smiling!

    Best wishes.
    I would go with A, but be very careful with B. A few things to consider with B:

    1. Are your firm's billable rates on par with your direct competitors' doing the exact same scope of services? Jacking up the rate 30% can be confrontational, especially for existing clients, and they might go with your competitior. That could bite you in the but a few different ways: #1: the new project has an even larger budget going to a different firm, and #2: the client might spread the word to others that you are charging too much. You should always consider discounting your billable rates the longer you have existing clients.
    2. Find out why they are being so difficult.
    If it's a matter of chemistry, the client might not click with you but you still will bring home the bacon. They might click even better with a direct competitor (which might mean more profits for them and not you) and that's not a risk you can afford to make. If the client has a nasty personality, I would find books on conflict resolution and learn the best way to deal with these people. If the client is a crook, compromises ethics, etc., then just go with A be rid of them (that might also mean leaving them out of references when creating bids). If the client does not pay the bills, go after them to collect and also tell them you won't start a new project until the balance is paid in full (or installments depending on the budget). If they still don't pay on existing work, seek legal action, but only as a last resort (you will most likely get the money back, but it may tarnish your reputation even though it's their fault).

    Hope this helps-

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Donk,
    I have a client just like that now, well technically it is 13 of them as a part of an ownership group. Two things i strait up want to ask:

    1) is the contract a fixed fee/T&M not to exceed or is it time and materials (hourly)?
    2) Does your client pay their bill on time?

    I ask question 1 because yes, they are difficult but it is a "Client" and your are a "Consultant" and thus you are paid for your "expert" advice. IF they choose NOT to adhered your advice, DOCUMENT IT through email or other written correspondence, and move on towards what the client wants. When it comes back to bite them show that through your documentation that you did advice them correctly, especially if they balk for additional fees because they didn't listen to you in the first place. (hence if it is fixed fee or T&M not to exceed). If it is T&M all the way, then just keep doing change after change and think of it as good business for now. IF they are notoriously late with payment, withholding deliverables tends to do the trick to get them to pay. Then take the other previously posted advice like cardinal's and walk way for the next project with either a higher fee based on your previous experience or with the whole "too busy" tag line.

    Does your contract have language giving you the ability to terminate at any time? Some of ours do, and some of ours doesn't but always good to see if you can add in most of your contracts. Good Luck!
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I agree with Cardinal. Of course, thats probably why we worked so well together.

    One thing to add: I have no unspoken thought. If you are like that too, gotta learn to bite your tongue once in a while!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, I guess I just have to suck it up. Nearly all of the consultants working on this project wants to walk due to the client......but can't for a variety of reasons.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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