Have you ever experienced a web design client those texts you during the weekend for tip on social media? How about the client that tries to haggle with you because they have a “friend” who can do something for lesser price?
Bad clients exist, and your business is going to suffer big time if you decide to work with them. All web designers and developers need to get started somewhere and unfortunately that’s where we get stuck in a rut. Everyone thinks, “Well, I need the money, and it would be nice to build my portfolio. What could go wrong?”
The problem with this logic is that you’re already setting yourself up for failure at the outset. The first client decision you make as a young developer is sure to muddle up into your decisions in the future. After all, every client one talks to presents the possibility of more money, and every client helps build your portfolio.
Every designer/developer needs is an ideal client checklist, or a list of criteria for each potential client that comes around.
Why it’s Important to Know Who Your Client Is!!!
As a business owner, you have four resources to protect and take care:
Each of these is affected if you choose to work for a low-quality client. Let’s explore each of them in-depth:
Freelancing and running a small business requires a considerable amount of your time on a daily basis. Most freelancers have trouble balancing regular life and work, so the clients you select shouldn’t exhaust your precious time any further.
Lost time cuts out growth. Those bits of time outside of design and development should be preserved for marketing, accounting, sales, ideas and support. Without this time any business will fail, all because of a client who is inconsiderate.
When you’re spending too much time on one or two clients, opportunities for making money diminish. This ties into the time point above, seeing as how your disrespectful client is cutting out the tasks that bring in new clients. Not only that, but your other clients are going to feel ignored as well, potentially sending them to other companies or freelancers.
Another reason you need to know your client is because they may not pay you at all or pay you too late. Money is the driving force that keeps your business afloat, and bad clients sink the ship.
You need some interesting clients to build your portfolio. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about when an unruly client dumps you at the last minute? Then you have neither money to show nor any project to post on your portfolio.
The worst clients generally leave you with little results to show for your efforts. They be indecisive, moving the process slowly along.
This involves both freelancers and businesses with the employees. Imagine a situation where you engage a client because of the potential for making a decent amount of money. You don’t have an ideal client checklist, so this client ends up being unapproachable and unwilling to take advice or suggestions.
Unfortunately, you hired this developer because they’re brilliant, they work hard and they’re enjoyable to be around. But this one client is changing that outlook completely. Now, the employee looks stressed out most of the time and making bad decisions.
A client should never be excuse for risking high quality workers, and this includes your own sanity and work ethic.
A Good Client is a Good Fit
This is the golden rule for the ideal client checklist and you must communicate the golden rule to your clients before taking them on.
Although it might sound daunting at first, it’s more about establishing a strong relationship with the client and deciding who will be making decisions on certain aspects of the project.
The earlier you ascertain this relationship, the better off you’ll be.
Criteria for When You Talk with New Clients
It is recommended to make a list of around five to ten criteria when talking to new clients. This will be your ideal client checklist. This way you don’t engulf yourself and become too picky in the selection process.
Below are few suggestions for your ideal client checklist. These basically works to protect your most valuable resources (Time, Money, Brand, and Personnel) while also separating the good from the bad clients.
Criteria #1: The Client is willing to Invest in Their Company
Clients with budget problems wreak havoc for your business. The main concern is whether or not they’re going to pay you for services. Next, you’re looking for a company that’s prepared to give you additional money when it’s needed.
Complete a test to see how the potential client responds to your budgetary needs. However, the best bet is to make an agreement on payment. You need to start with a down payment right off the bat, showing they have some sort of funds. Then, depending on the service, you should get a contract in writing indicating the further payments along with the timelines.
If a payment is missed, that’s when you halt the work.
Criteria #2: The Client is ready to Change
When a client hires you to make changes to a web site or build a new one, they’ve at some point recognized that their online presence is in need of a revamp. There’s no reason you should sit around and listen to the problems your client has had in the past.
This criterion goes both ways, because a rule must be set that says the whole point of the project is to make a complete transformation. It’s also a good idea to ask your client what they want to transform and the hiring purpose.
After that, you can start to make a list of the steps needed to make those changes, which can then be passed onto the client for approval. There will be clients who are attached to certain parts of the old design, but remember, you’re the boss when it comes to the site.
Criteria #3: The Client is Coachable and Ready to Learn
You can be the best designer in the world, but if your client isn’t willing to take direction, it’s a lost battle from the start.
Criteria #4: The Client is ready for Decision Making (With You)
Getting on the phone with a client and not making decisions is a huge waste of time for both parties. This criterion sets the expectation that communication is actually meant for decision making. Sometimes bigger decisions, it is required that you be the leader and they are there to confirm your decisions.
A point of contact must be established from the start. You should communicate with this one person and one person only, and they should be authorized to make decisions with you.
Criteria #5: The Client Has a Vision in Mind
Having the desire for change is different from having a vision in mind. The ideal customer has a dream for where they would like their business to be next year, in five years, and in ten years. Your design supports that vision, so it’s critical to figure out that they have a dream in the first place, along with the details of that dream.
What are they trying to achieve with this new design? What are their customers getting from the design? Are they looking for higher profits, more customers, or a strong email collection platform?
Ask these questions and you’ll find the answers.
Criteria #6: The Client Shows Respect for Your Time
It may sound complicated to figure out whether or not a client is going to respect your time at first, but we suggest going with a few tests during your initial interactions.
The goal here is to ensure that your client is going to meet their own deadlines, show up on time for meetings (or virtual calls), and deliver requested website materials. You can’t make these discoveries until getting to work with them, but you can run some tests.
Start by organizing a face-to-face meeting or a zoom call. Schedule an exact time and send them an outline of what you’re going to discuss.
• See if they reschedule the meeting. (Multiple times?)
• Did they show up to the meeting/call late or skipped it?
• See if they’re prepared for the meeting.
• Do they ask questions for you?
• Are they turning the conversation into a couple of hours affair?
• See if they try to patch in multiple people onto a conference call, making it difficult to communicate and make
• Think up a few questions about the meeting outline. You can in general see if they have taken the time to look
over your notes.
What is the best type of to-do list?
The first thing you need to figure out before you start putting together your checklist is what type of checklist is going to be the most beneficial to your schedule, and help you get the most work done.
There are two main types of checklists:
• Daily checklist
A daily checklist is a list of all the tasks you need to complete in a day to day basis. This will change everyday depending on what’s on the agenda. If you don’t finish a task before your head hits the pillow at night, you can just move it to the next day’s list.
• Situational checklist
A situational checklist is a checklist that requires tasks specific to a certain event or area of your life. So, for example, a to-do list for a wedding or a checklist for an exhibition being organized. These will usually take longer to complete than your daily to-do list, but are super helpful for organizing tasks related to a big event in your life or work.
Daily and situational checklists are both extremely useful. Choosing one simply depends on what tasks you currently need to get done, what tasks you need to get done in the future.