It seems that my recent article regarding how clients can view creative suppliers resonated with many of you. In one way that was about how to protect yourself from possible issues. However, some of you may already be embroiled in issues with clients who seem to want the moon on a stick by tomorrow - so here’s 5 ways to deal with them.
- Get a clear update in writing
Too many people break the golden rule of business - get it in writing. However it is never too late to do that. If you think that a project is spiralling out of control, then write to you client and explain that you want to double check the spec and deadline and ask them to clarify exactly what they want and when - you then have it in writing, should you need to revisit it later.
- Cover your ass in writing
Once you have the clients requirements in writing, then send an email outlining your understanding of what they want and when they want it. 9/10 customers may never acknowledge it, but you still have a copy if you need to bring it up later. The only email folder I never delete emalls from is my Outbox, that has saved my ass countless times.
- The golden handcuffs
Make sure you include in any terms that NO masters, mixes or anything the client can use leave your building until you get paid.
- You don’t have to keep working
You might not belong to a union, but that doesn’t mean you should keep working on a project that the client either isn’t willing to pay for or has unreasonable demands. If you think either are the case then it is perfectly reasonable to contact your client - I suggest by phone, email and text are not good ways to do this, and calmly explain that until matters are resolved that you are going to have to stop working on the project. Of course follow it up with an email or letter to cover you ass!
- Cut your losses - Get your cash
If you think that you may never see the money and you know that you are never going to work with the client again then stop work, keep hold of the work you have done and instruct an external firm to collect your debt for you. Don’t worry about your reputation, bad clients always have a worse one when you start to dig. On the rare occasion I have to instigate proceedings then I normally get paid in around 3 hours.
In most cases you should never need to get to a point that the relationship has broken down to the point of numbers 4 and 5. However some basic clarity at the start of projects can save you from unnecessary issues later on.