How to Deal with ‘Clients from Hell’ and Late Payments
Whether or not you like it, difficult clients are everywhere and as a freelancer, you’ll want to do anything to avoid them. It can be extremely disappointing when clients don’t pay on time and become hard to please after hiring you for your skills and expertise and yet, nothing appears to meet their approval.
In order to keep your head up and continue to succeed as a freelancer, it’s really important to know how to deal with the so-called ‘clients from hell’ as well as how to find the right approach to minimize complications.
In our latest video series ‘The Freelancer Lounge’, Jon Younger, author of the Forbes blog, Freelance Revolution, shared best practices on how to handle difficult clients and those who don’t pay on time.
Watch the full episode below!
Here we dive deeper into the different types of difficult clients, how to deal with them and if they don’t pay on time.
Types of Difficult Clients
A crucial part of your freelance business is learning how to effectively manage your clients, even the most problematic ones. But before learning how to deal with them, you need to first identify which type of client you’re dealing with. Let’s break down the types of difficult clients you may or probably already encounter.
- Inconsiderate Clients – These clients are the ones that don’t consider the impact of their choices and actions on you and your freelance business.
- Indecisive Clients – Those who constantly change their minds and can’t seem to decide on when to start or complete a project or change the requirements for the project to something completely different.
- Unsatisfied Clients – Those who keep giving you a hard time when it comes to getting the project approved and demand for more work to be done but are unwilling to increase your pay.
How to Handle These Clients
While it may be hard and exhausting to have to deal with all the back and forth between these types of clients, especially considering the fact that you’ve given up more time than planned to dealing with them, it’s crucial to know how to take control of these situations.
So, what can you do? Here are 6 things to keep in mind.
1. Avoid the Problem
It’s best to always try and prevent a situation in which you are arguing with your client about getting paid. How do you avoid these types of scenarios with existing or future clients? Before taking on any project, always make sure that you and your client are 100% aligned on the contract and expectations. Never start working on a task/project and then at the same time, write up a contract. Communication and clarity are key here!
2. Define the Relationship
We can’t stress enough how important clear communication is between you and your client so before even gathering the small details of your contract, have a conversation with them and discuss what you both believe is a successful and efficient working relationship. Oftentimes, difficult behavior derives from miscommunication or a missed expectation between the two of you, so it’s important to talk everything over well before you begin actually working.
Once you’ve defined the type of relationship you want to create with your client, talk to them about what’s necessary for the work agreement and what needs to be done in order to move forward.
3. Ask for Feedback
Keep the conversation open even while working on the project for the client, meaning, from time to time, ask your client how you’ve been doing and if they feel that you’ve met their expectations so far. This type of open communication will eventually lead to more trust between both parties, creating a win-win situation.
4. Solve Problems in a Collaborative Way
When it comes to challenging scenarios between you and your client (e.g. disagreement on final outcome, expectations, etc.) find a way to work together and develop a solution. Talk things out and share your thoughts on how things are going as well as the best way to move forward that is fair for both parties.
5. Get Help from Peers
Before jumping to a conclusion or acting, try to speak with your fellow freelancers or colleagues and ask them what they believe would be the best way to go about handling these types of clients. Perhaps someone else who has already been in your shoes and has experienced first-hand this type of difficult relationship, can offer you great advice that you may not have thought of beforehand.
6. When all Fails, Walk Away
If after all is said and done you still can’t seem to please your client or work well with them, then unfortunately, you’ll have to consider letting them go. Yes, it’s going to be tough and can even impact your freelance income, but your work conditions do matter. If you feel that you are constantly stuck and you no longer know what to do about their professional behavior or the fact that they don’t pay you on time, then it’s time to walk away.
Be Clear from the Start and The Rest Will Flow Smoothly
From clients who are too demanding to those who simply can’t get your payment out on time, it’s truly up to you to step up and try all the necessary tactics in order to deal with them. The trick is to not let these types of clients get to you and instead, know how to respond and act in a professional manner. Ask yourself if you’ve taken all the necessary steps to preventing these issues from happening from the very beginning. If it starts right, most likely it works right, but as that’s not always the case, you’ll have to take additional measures to straighten things out.
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