How to Avoid Nightmare Clients

Taking the wrong client can do more than create stress, you can lose money, sleep, confidence, and it can even cost you your business. It has even happened to top designers according to Gail Doby, Chief Vision Officer and Co-Founder of Design Success University:

"I dig into this issue in our How to Avoid Fee Fiascos … And Attract Your Ideal Client webinar, and in fact, I provide an Ideal Client Profile Workbook that you can use to define what you want and what you don’t want in a client. Click here to sign up for complimentary webinar:

I was working with one of my VIP clients this week, and she said she had the Ideal Client Profile Workbook, but she was still stuck. My suggestion was to be clear about her values.  Just like choosing a spouse, if you list your non-negotiables, negotiables and not important values, you look for alignment around the non-negotiables. An example would be your desire to have children. If your potential spouse doesn’t want children and you do, then the marriage is destined for trouble. It’s the same with your clients.

Select your clients for alignment with your values rather than your desire to make money or do a project that sounds fun and exciting. It doesn’t matter that your client has money if you don’t like working with them.  Also select based on what you don’t want.  If you don’t want to work with a client that just wants a few hours of consultation, then decline the job or refer them to a colleagues that does like small jobs.

If your client doesn’t make time for meetings or decisions, and wants the job done yesterday, then you have a conflict in what is said and their behavior. If you encounter this problem, then you have to confront your client (nicely of course) with the fact that you can’t do your job unless they are available to make decisions on your timeline.  They can delay the job if they choose, but you want your client to be on notice about the consequences of their actions or lack of action. 

Find out if your client needs more information or more options to make a decision.  If they are concerned about making a wrong decision that is costly, it could also be contributing to their delay.  Sometimes life gets in the way, but it should not happen continuously, or your client has problems balancing priorities. Perhaps the project or spending money isn’t a priority in their life.

Sometimes your clients may feel that the investment you are asking them to make isn’t quite right.  Maybe the items you are presenting are more costly than they expected, so they postpone because they don’t want to be embarrassed about not wanting to spend that much money and they don’t know how to say that to you. If your clients are slow to respond, be sure to ask yourself what could be causing that problem, and then, address it directly.

Personally, I don’t work with clients that are constant negotiators. I don’t purchase any more so that doesn’t create problems, but my fees are non-negotiable. Once you start down that path, negotiations will continue. If someone negotiates the terms of your contract up front, that is the first clue to their long-term behavior.

Choose your clients carefully, and if they don’t fit your Ideal Client Profile (what you want to attract and what you want to avoid), then decline the job. You’ll sleep better and your checkbook will be happier.” Click here to sign up for complimentary webinar:

Gail Doby, ASID, DSA & IDS – Gail is an author, speaker, interior designer and business coach that loves construction design and remodeling.  She is NCIDQ certified with a degree in Finance & Banking as well as Interior Design.  Gail started her career with a Fortune 500 company in Sales and Marketing and has been involved in the home furnishings industry for 36 years.


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