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Drop the Dead Weight: Fire your Worst Clients! (Tue Tip)

December 6, 2011

Today’s Tip:  Listen to your gut.  Ever get that feeling that a potential client may be high maintenance or want everything done yesterday?   Listen to your instincts and turn them away as fast as you can.  Send them to a directory.  Send them to a rival.  Send them away from you.  Bonus if you can refer them to your worst enemy (kidding!).

The Pareto Principal is true in more ways than one:  not only do 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers, but 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers.  If you can weed out that complaining/crazy/high-maintenance 20% up front, think of the aggravation you will save.

Architects (and engineers) sometimes tell me that they knew they might have issues with a particular client based on how the initial meetings & negotiations proceeded; needing the work, they took the job anyhow, only to find themselves facing the prospect of a long-drawn out lawsuit.  Don’t let this be you.

What to do if you already have the crazy client on board?  Document everything, including verbal agreements.  And cut them loose when you can safely do so.  This can be tricky-if not impossible-to do during an active project.  So in the interim, prepare as if you will be sued, because there is a good chance of it.  Remember that in a lawsuit, everything will be evidence, so your documentation during the project will be vital.

And next time- listen to your gut!

Do you have an experience working with a “crazy” client?  Did you ever not listen to your gut, only to rue the day you didn’t later on?  Share below, or send me an email.  Remember to remove identifying details, to avoid being stalked by your crazy ex-client!

 Photo: (c) jimwhimpey via Creative Commons.

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4 Comments
  1. Every time I haven’t listened to my gut re: clients I’ve regretted it. One thing which is 100% foolproof – if someone tells you about a bigger future job/project on your first meeting about the existing one, run. It’ll never happen. It always turns to be the carrot & stick set up and they’ll be the client who wants something for nothing.

    It is hard to not write yourself off as being too skeptical, but we have instincts for a reason.

    • DecorGirl: Thanks for the comment. Your foolproof method has merit– I can personally attest to that first-hand.

  2. disgusted customer permalink

    Would you please recommend attorneys who represent clients with a terrible builder in north carolina?

    • Many attorneys focus their practices on construction law issues, including the representation of clients against builders. Some will take on contingency cases, where they are only paid if they get a recovery; most however do charge hourly. Some items to consider: (1) is your builder still in business?; (2) does your builder have any assets to recover against? (a paper-only judgment you cannot execute on is meaningless); and (3) is your case within the statute of limitations and statue of repose. If you’d like to discuss a case in particular, contact me via phone or email. Thanks for your comment.

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