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Types of Clients You Should Never Enter into a Deal With

Dealing with the wrong clients can harm your business. Here are client types you should never go into business with and how to gently avoid them.


Originally published by South Coast Today. Re-posted with permission.


People go into business to make money, meaning it is necessary to work with every client they possibly can, right? Wrong. Some clients will do your business more harm than good, leaving you with a reputation to rehabilitate and hoping that your existing clients choose to remain loyal.

Working with the right clients grows your business. Dealing with the wrong ones could cause its demise. Here are client types you should never go into business with and how to avoid them.

The know-it-all

Using virtual reception softwareWhen you supply this customer with the product or service they ordered, they are unhappy with everything and want to lecture you on what they feel are your shortcomings. They are the type that will ignore any systems and rules you put in place as part of your operations. For example, they might become offended when asked to use your visitor management system from Greetly, believing it to be beneath them to sign in or out.

There is a fine line between challenging someone over the quality of their work and being completely obnoxious. Over-critical customers leave you feeling demotivated and questioning your abilities. You have neither the time nor resources to deal with high-maintenance customers who think you live and breathe to serve them.

The client in hiding

An elusive client can be frustrating to work with as they are almost always impossible to get hold of. These clients emerge from their hiding places to engage your services and then vanish again. Trying to follow up, gain clarity on the assignment, or discuss deadlines is impossible. Whether you call, text, or email, the elusive client leaves you hanging.

During your initial dealings with a client, monitor their communication style. Think about how frustrated you will be when completing a task that the customer needs to sign off on before you can move to the next stage. They could leave you waiting for ages and then reappear, demanding to know why you are not finished.

The over-the-top client

Government visitor management softwareThis client is the opposite of the elusive customer. These clients do not respect boundaries, such as working hours, having no problem contacting you late at night and over weekends. They cannot take the hint when they do not get a response.

This client also favors micromanaging and does not appear to trust you to deliver the product or service they want. They have many inconsequential queries that clog up your day. Agree on rules of engagement with clients before you start working for them, stipulating contact hours and agreeing on milestone points at which communication will be necessary.

The non-payer

Is there anything worse than chasing a client to get paid? This frustrating process becomes a business owner’s reality when they take on a client who is present and participating at every stage except when payment falls due.

Ensure that clients understand your payment terms before working with them. If possible, ask for an upfront partial payment before starting any work for them. Evaluate their payment behavior and determine if they are worth the long-term financial risk or if they will always need to be pursued for payment.

The prevaricator

An indecisive client requires plenty of handholding and will change their minds multiple times during a project, leaving you ready to pull your hair out. This customer is never happy, not because of your work, but because they cannot decide what they want.

Define a project’s outcomes, milestones, and requirements before starting it. If your client changes their mind halfway through, you can still charge them for the work you have done. That will soon teach them to make decisions and stick with them.

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