Nothing burns my fuel more than a client who thinks they have the right to run my business for me. Two recent examples are:
1) The woman who called me repeatedly over a weekend, leaving messages that told me what time she would like me to come by and meet with her painter to discuss his application of the base coat and for me to pick up the contract and deposit so she would not have to mail it, plus she would then tell me what date I would start this job. Several things were wrong with the messages she left for me. One, I had just spent 2 hrs (free of charge) with her, her husband and painter, the previous day. We discussed in detail what her painter’s role would be, and I also discussed my schedule, which would not allow this job to start for a good month. I called this client back and calmly informed her that I would not be able to meet again with her painter, but would be happy to discuss any questions/concerns he had on the phone. I also reminded her of my work schedule and estimated start date for this job. I received my 4 sample boards in the mail with a very cool note saying they decided not to go ahead with this job. I was relieved. This was just not a good fit for me. Never once did this couple thank me for my time. (Two hr consult, plus prep work for quote). I don’t want to work for a client who does not appreciate the hard work and care I put into each and every job I do.
I take my work very seriously. I have never presented myself to a client with nothing less than professionalism. I am always on time. I always call the day before to confirm my arrival. I am very considerate when working on the job site. I always leave the site cleaner than when I arrived. I do not complete a job until I am sure the client is 100% satisfied. I always work with a contract so we both are clear as to what is expected.
2) Another client, who I have worked with before, had me quote on 2 good sized bathrooms for their daughters and a 22′ long hallway. Labor intensive finishes, plus costly materials will be used in all three areas. The last time I did work for this family was two years ago. Obviously, prices have gone up. I spent a lot of time on their quote. I knew they would be shocked at the cost because their previous work done did not involve such labor intensive finishes nor such costly materials. Their Wish List was extensive. I quoted each area with two prices. One, the original concept and the second was a scaled down version, alternative option. I also included a 5 % discount for the total cost if they did all 3 areas at once. The client sent me an email saying they would proceed with the work "Under these terms". "These terms" stated that all work would be done in each room, the original concept, not the alternative option, for $x amount of dollars. This turned out to be almost $900 less than the quote. My response, once I recovered from their boldness, was to calmly explain the high material costs for this project, as well as the extensive labor involved. Some times people just have no idea of all the prep work and how long it actually takes to do certain finishes. This client was very receptive to my response, selected the alternate options for 2 of the 3 areas to reduce their costs, and even apologized to me the first day I arrived at their home to begin the job. They told me they had no idea how expensive the materials were. I had itemized the cost of the major supplies I would be using for this job.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose in these situations, but I feel it is important to not be bullied or unreasonably compromise. Each party must be willing to work toward a solution that they both feel comfortably satisfied. You don’t want an unhappy or angry client and you certainly do not want to feel you’re working for less than you are worth. Each client is more potential business. Sometimes, like the first client above though, it is just not a good fit and it’s best to let the job go. When this happens, another, more interesting and lucrative job always come along! We don’t have a crystal ball, but you have to trust your instincts and have faith when a situation just does not feel right.