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How to deal with clients who waste your time

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by nellipope, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    Was wondering how you deal with clients who just can't get their act together. I'm talking about the ones who desperately want a website / brochure etc but just can't seem to get themselves into gear when it comes to giving you website content (pictures, copy etc, stuff that you just can't do for them) I have one such client at the moment. The framework for their website is all there, I just need a few photos, an artist illustration (requested by the client who is the artist) a price list and and copy. I have been waiting for six months. I even offered to take the photos myself. I have been down to their place of business to give them a gentle nudge, they just bombard me with excuses and apologies and pleading promises that they will do it Tomorrow (beginning to understand how my parents must have felt when I was kid). The excuses concern me, their last one was that the photographer hasn't bothered to take the photos, yet unbeknownst to them I am also doing some work for the photographer whom I know has been round twice to take them.

    I feel the time has come to issue a friendly ultimatum. My mother used to have a phrase ( I won't swear as I'm new to this forum) which was " poop or get off the pot".

    It's a tricky one, as they paid part payment up front, so you would think I would be happy to let it just run over, but it's hanging over me like a bad smell. I'm thinking of giving them a get out clause, but was wondering how any of you deal with clients such as this?
  2. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    We were having exactly this conversation yesterday and have decided to try altering our workflow to deal with it. We will continue to take deposits but will be insisting on preliminary content up-front, before any design work starts. Whether this works or not only time will tell but would be interested to hear how others cope with it too.
  3. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I have a similar issue and the only way I can see to deal with it is to put their work on the back burner whilst I get on with other things. When they get back to me with content, they'll just have to wait till I can make time to finish their projects.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    This is pretty much what I was going to say. Advise clients in future that you have a (flexible) slot system for work, and if they don't provide the required content swiftly then their slot is pushed to the back to make way for other clients.
  5. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    I am glad I'm not alone, I have sent the client a link to a streamlined temporary site with a comprehensive list of much needed content. But they also got a get out clause from me, I've told them I will happily shelve their project and keep all art work safe until they feel their business is ready.

    I have more problems with people who have little IT experience (not that I have too much myself). I am more than happy to take complete over a project and take all the headache off them, but I'm not sure they trust a 5'4" bottle blonde woman with their brochures / websites etc, not that I have let anyone down . . . yet.

    Have the feeling this project will drop out of bed. The Clients (a couple) are running a feel good salon, basically crystals, gluten free food, holistic medicine etc, the couple have a deep distrust of anything digital. Lovely though they are, I don't think they feel the need for web presence, and I'm not the most dynamic sales person.

    Will definitely change my workflow to ensure I not only receive part payment, but also part content too.

    Thank you for your replies.
  6. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    That'll be the issue: right there.
  7. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    Totally agree. If people don't want a website then you will repeatedly bash your head against a brick wall trying to deliver one for them. It's just not their priority or even second or third on their list. How did you end up with the job?
  8. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    Strangely they approached me, but I'm finding that new businesses especially, over exaggerate their businesses. So they commission you for a site that would reflect their business two years down the line, when really they need a website that reflects the business as it is in the here and now. In this case I have five empty pages with no details for them. I approached the client, created a streamlined site for them, with a view to creating something solid that they can market now. Then last week I gave them the option of shelving the project for six months or so, until they are ready. They came back and said they wanted to stick with the original plan and website. So I am kind of back to square one. Personally I think it's financial, I'm not sure they can factor in even the meagre hosting costs.
  9. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    This is true and we have experienced it a few times. People always think a business will grow much quicker than it actually does. Being flushed with the excitement of starting something new can easily cloud your judgement.
  10. CherryDesigns

    CherryDesigns New Member

    In my short time of trading, 8 weeks + I've taken on a number of project and found the client to be the most frustrating thing along their lack of help towards their own project.

    I had a customer, not too while ago, whom instead of giving me their content, copy etc - they decided they would pull words here and there from different places and put them together. Their answer, your the designers, thats your job. Whilst, in some way, I tend to concur, I did stress content is their responsibility as it grammar, spelling, etc etc. I sent their link over to the demo and I simply copied and pasted what they had given me. They had signed terms. Needless to say, they want best pleased. I said next time, write your own content and provide it spell checked.
  11. retroandy

    retroandy New Member

    This has to be one of my biggest worries. I plan on going full time freelance soon and will be reliant and clients providing me with the content required to finish their sites and therefore get fully paid. I take a deposit but its not really enough but as i am still in my initial stages of starting, i am no sure how my clients would feel if i was demanding more as a deposit. I am tempted to try the technique mentioned above, where i only start the design once the content has been provided.

    I think the issue is that client just expect us to do it "all" for them. They pay the money and low and behold they get a website. They have to realize they have a responsibility to provide the necessary content or we cannot complete the task. Unless we are willing to write all their content, which is hard enough when you know what your talking about, but even harder when its a business you don't have a clue about.

    I think the way forward is to take on enough work that when a client lets you down with content you have something to fall back on, while you waiting.
  12. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I actually find it easier to request late payment for a website than I've ever done for printed work. If you've delivered the clients print and they refuse to pay the balance, you're in for the long haul, BUT if you've been working on their online presence and they don't pay, you simply turn it all off. Nine times out of ten you control the clients domain, their hosting and quite often their email accounts too, so have pretty much absolute power!

    It's only happened once (and at my employers request) but I have had to replace a site with a holding page stating that the site had been removed whilst the company attempted to recover losses through the county court.... It's amazing how quick people pay up when they realise the whole world is watching.
  13. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    ^ Nice.
  14. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

  15. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    This was one of my earliest and most valuable lessons.

    Now, I get 50% up front. I only proceed to print once the account has been balanced. I give them a waiting period of 3-5 or 10 working days etc. (depending on the job) once the account is balanced. If they don't pay, it doesn't go to print. When they do pay, they know exactly when the job is being delivered.
  16. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    Another way is to use a copywriter who will write for you and/or the client for websites/brochures - always happy to help!

    I nearly always take full payment for new customers for print. On the website side I too have had put up a holding page saying that the client owed me (and others) money - only to be threatened by the client with her solicitor! I told her that I would love to speak to her solicitor :) County court did bu**er all - she was a complete hardnosed b*tch and disappeared - but I did have the satisfaction of spoiling her credit rating!
  17. DesignersInsurance

    DesignersInsurance New Member

    this is a very interesting topic and on a slightly different but similar tack, we are finding more and more that customers are now issuing legal proceedings simply to avoid paying fees - effectively making a claim to say things are not as they were promised, simply to avoid paying the final bill - it become very important at that point to have good insurance protection not only for the financial impact but also the expertise that the insurers own solicitors can bring to the equation to help get matters resolved.

    has anyone else come across this at all ?
  18. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    I do offer a credit period for design, but I always take full payment up front for print before placing the order if they'd like me to arrange that for them.
  19. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I operate on the basis that it's unwise to get involved in any business beyond that which I directly supply and control; to this end, I'll introduce clients to printers I've worked with and tell them about my positive experience if it's going to be helpful but I stop short of making direct recommendations, don't act as a middle man for processing payments (or take a cut) and never, ever sign-off on printers' proofs (I'll look them over for any issues but that's all). I handle all of the liaison/handover at my hourly rate but I don't see the point in exposing myself to any unnecessary risk at the hands of a third party supplier.
  20. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    I only use printers I know and trust, on a personal level. I have plenty of friends in the industry who are involved in printing, and I use them.

    That's who I recommend, and if the client wants, I'll act as middleman - but that doesn't come for free. I have to work as a middleman, so I give them options that come with that.

    I can arrange print and delivery to their premises, without me seeing the final print - they assume all responsibility.

    Most go with this option as it's the cheapest.

    I also to offer to work as the middleman in having the proofs delivered to me, and I turn talk to them, the client, about it and the issues, pitfalls etc. And resupply proofs. And based on the approved proofs can be printed and delivered to them and they assume responsibility for the final printed product.

    I also offer that I assume full responsibility of the proofs and that I deliver the final printed product in 100% perfect condition - but my price is so high on this that nobody has taken up that offer yet.

    There's more tiers to this and it's just a flavour of what goes on with certain clients.

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