I f*%king Hate dealing with offline clients, but I love the money!!!

50 replies
I really really really hate dealing with offlline clients. They can be so annoying. "I don't like this about my website," "I read this blah about google is it going to hurt my site?" "You built my website 2 weeks ago why isn't on the first page for the keyword health insurance yet!!!?" I mean jeez!! Stop calling me!!!!

Their unrealistic expectations, their neediness, and their impatience can be so annoying. But, its still by far the easiest way to make money in the online space. I love the sales process, its so easy for me, so smoothe. Whether I'm leasing a site, building a site, or SEOing a site easiest thing in the world. Project confidence and close, simple. But. the hand holding after just sucks! I want to just give them their money back and say screw it but the money is so lovely.

So, basically what I'm getting at is I see all of this info and wso's about how to get clients but what is some of your advice about dealing with those naggy. needy, down right silly clients? The ones that even though you informed them what your working hours are, they leave you 3 an 4 voicemails asking the dumbest s&$t!!! since Earnest P. Worrell lol. All kidding aside, some suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. heres a little disclaimer by no means does this represent all my clients, I have over 40 clients an this is maybe 7 or 8 of them but they demand so much time. And, to make it worse they mostly fall into the category of my highest paying customers so it'd hurt to let them go. What can I do?
#clients #dealing #f%king #hate #love #money #offline
  • Fire them! Use the 80/20 rule. Focus on your other customers. Unless these are big accounts, then, I would just say it is a part of doing business.
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    • Profile picture of the author Caper224
      Originally Posted by unlimitedmarketing View Post

      Fire them! Use the 80/20 rule. Focus on your other customers. Unless these are big accounts, then, I would just say it is a part of doing business.
      ^^^^^I know, I know. Thats the problem. Their big accounts.
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      • Profile picture of the author Danielm
        Work on setting realistic expectations? If they think there is a reason that they'd hit number 1 in google for health insurance in a week then they're going to ask about it. I'm not saying that is the only answer, but it can't hurt your progress in fixing the problem.

        I've found in other businesses that if you are very clear with people ahead of time, i.e. this is the service I'm going to provide, I'm going to give you updates every X number of days/weeks/etc, here is how long it should take and here is the best way to contact me.... then at least they are prepared and understand the process a bit more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    I use a ticketing system which works well and then I can get someone to manage it for me if it gets to much of a hassel.

    Quentin
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    • Profile picture of the author latinguy20
      Originally Posted by Quentin View Post

      I use a ticketing system which works well and then I can get someone to manage it for me if it gets to much of a hassel.

      Quentin

      Which ticketing system are you using? I'm in the process of setting this up as well. I think once you hit that 20 client mark, this is really a necessity.
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      • Profile picture of the author James Sides
        This is exactly why I chose to get away from offline business.

        It's certainly easy pickens with almost NO competition in my area but at the end of the day I might as well be working for someone else if I am at a customer's beck and call.

        Now I prefer to stick purely to online marketing for my own profits.

        Good Luck with em!

        James
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      • Profile picture of the author TheCG
        Originally Posted by latinguy20 View Post

        Which ticketing system are you using? I'm in the process of setting this up as well. I think once you hit that 20 client mark, this is really a necessity.
        Not Quentin but here is one I am looking at using.

        Help Desk Software HESK - a free PHP help desk
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  • Profile picture of the author nasuryono
    Same here. From my experience, the most annoying one are actually the big clients.

    Oh well, you can focus on getting even bigger clients and eventually fire them

    -Andrew
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  • Profile picture of the author mcconnon12
    Setting expectations is really big. Funny, I just replied to someone recently about offering services that put you in control. I imagine your bigger clients are folks where you are doing things to their website. I decided against doing this anymore because of similar situations. I still offer a review and consultation of their site and will let them know what they need to do, but I don't get involved with implementing. I will bother them to do it, lol, I switched the roles. Every now and then, one of them will ask me to do it and I tell them why I don't and they say they wont bother me or change what I did, etc... If I feel this is a one and done deal I'll do it and charge them but if I feel its going to be one of those situations I stay away.
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  • Profile picture of the author sitefurnace
    I know how you feel. Its the ONE thing that holds me back. The thought of someone pestering me is horrifying! Trouble is, this is why its so easy to sell - you are selling yourself and that's what the customer wants - YOU
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  • Profile picture of the author vivaarturo
    I set up expectations and let the client know if they would like further consultation that is built into my package I will invoice them accordingly, this seems to help as they have all their questions prepared and emailed to me so I can review when we catch up

    cheers
    Arturo
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    • Profile picture of the author gekko2.0
      Originally Posted by Quentin View Post

      I use a ticketing system which works well and then I can get someone to manage it for me if it gets to much of a hassel.

      Quentin
      Originally Posted by vivaarturo View Post

      I set up expectations and let the client know if they would like further consultation that is built into my package I will invoice them accordingly, this seems to help as they have all their questions prepared and emailed to me so I can review when we catch up

      cheers
      Arturo
      You are both right on the money with your advice. We use a ticket system and I have someone manage it for us. If it requires my attention and it goes outside of our agreement then we let them know they will be billed for the additional consultation.

      You would be surprised how quickly "issues" go away once the client realizes its going to costs them money.
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  • Profile picture of the author indolesman
    The biggest problem is that they dont provide content and expect us to do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TryBPO
    We COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from. Surprisingly enough, we've been practicing saying, "No" to potential clients...even when it represents a decent amount of money for us. I just wrote about this the other day:

    Why We Won't Do Business With You | AdSense Flippers

    Sometimes it's just not worth it and will keep you from hitting your strategic goals.
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  • Profile picture of the author cchipster
    I can completely relate to this. 'Offlinie whiny' clients expecting miracles in days. I agree with the above statement...80/20 rule.
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  • Profile picture of the author gekko2.0
    If they don't provide you any content bill them for the time it takes for you to create it. They will come around once they see putting together their own content saves them money.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Brian
    When I was faced with this problem, I hired people to do all the client communication and marketing. However my experience wasn't as expected since what I hired were quite incompetent, I am still in the process of improving the system. Ideally, you should do the same, let them do what you hate, just train them well.
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  • Profile picture of the author J.M.Wilson
    I've got a client at this very minute who is pestering the life right out of me. Every day he sends me emails asking the stupidest questions and advice for me. Just today he came away with...

    "I know you like to only have 1 or 2 keywords per page but I would like to rank for these (insert around 12 unrelated keywords) on the homepage. Can you just add them to the bottom of the page and hopefully Google picks them up?"


    I already told him I wouldn't do that numerous times and he still asks me... at least once a week. I'm going to have a sit down with him shortly and tell him to let me get on with our agreement or to find someone else to do his work for him.
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    • Profile picture of the author gekko2.0
      Originally Posted by J.M.Wilson View Post

      I've got a client at this very minute who is pestering the life right out of me. Every day he sends me emails asking the stupidest questions and advice for me. Just today he came away with...

      "I know you like to only have 1 or 2 keywords per page but I would like to rank for these (insert around 12 unrelated keywords) on the homepage. Can you just add them to the bottom of the page and hopefully Google picks them up?"


      I already told him I wouldn't do that numerous times and he still asks me... at least once a week. I'm going to have a sit down with him shortly and tell him to let me get on with our agreement or to find someone else to do his work for him.
      Here is what I do with those type of clients, ask ignorant questions about their business. If they are a Doctor ask if they can give you something that will allow you to read minds. If they own a motorcycle shop ask if they can get you an extra 500 horsepower out of your bike when they so no ask why not. Then point out thats exactly what they are doing to you and that they hired you for your expertise so let you do your job.

      If this doesn't work fire them as quickly as possible.
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  • Profile picture of the author sitefurnace
    Quentin, id also like to know more about the ticketing system. Do you use this for all your customer support or do you give your customers a phone number as well.

    Ive just got a new IP phone with separate number for my home office because from what ive read it really helps with sales. However im dreading it ringing all the time and invading my precious time. If i could deal with everything via a ticket system i would feel a lot happier about things. Its not so much that i dont like speaking to people, its just that i want to do it when i want to do it and not be at the beck and call of people.

    Is it possible to do away with a phone or is your business really going to suffer?

    By the way I think PLESK is a free platform
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    • Profile picture of the author Xebekn
      1) Set realistic expectations as people above me stated. Pay special attention to your contract. Firmly state in there what you are doing and that you won't be doing anything outside of that. People tend to drop their issues when they realize that document that told them exactly what you would do and wouldn't do, well, they actually signed it.

      2) If it's a particularly obstinant customer, do what they ask. I've found it's much easier to just do what they ask then fight with them over the reasons they shouldn't do it. For the 30 minute discussion we have over the pros and cons (which they don't care about, they just want it done) I could have just changed their title tag in 1. I would tell them that it's going to mess up your integrated marketing effort that they signed up and are paying for but past that, I would just do it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Xebekn
      Originally Posted by sitefurnace View Post

      Quentin, id also like to know more about the ticketing system. Do you use this for all your customer support or do you give your customers a phone number as well.

      Ive just got a new IP phone with separate number for my home office because from what ive read it really helps with sales. However im dreading it ringing all the time and invading my precious time. If i could deal with everything via a ticket system i would feel a lot happier about things. Its not so much that i dont like speaking to people, its just that i want to do it when i want to do it and not be at the beck and call of people.

      Is it possible to do away with a phone or is your business really going to suffer?

      By the way I think PLESK is a free platform
      In the offline world, in my opinion, doing away with a phone would hurt you. People want to talk to you, that's how it goes. Try to change your tactics in dealing with them when they do call if you can. Set up expectations for customer service in your contract. Outline a specific time for customer service (maybe 10 minutes per phone call) and let them know that they can't exceed that. If they start asking questions why or get irate about that, simply explain in a calm demeanor that you have had issues in the past with customers taking up your whole day with questions and issues and it completely derailed all efforts for your whole client base. Explain that you now require every customer to agree to this. Explain that this is in their best interest so that you can pay the maximum amount of time and attention to their situation as well as your other customers. When people understand they're being treated fairly and that a rule they're not excited about actually benefits them, they tend to let it go.

      Also, a ticketing system might work wonders if it's what I think it is. Once again, these are just my suggestions and might not even be applicable to your situation but if they are, I hope I helped.
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  • Profile picture of the author epodowski
    I will take any offline clients you hate dealing with.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Mostly I have found how they come into the relationship, determines how it goes...

    If they expect miracles, then you will be hounded for miracles..

    If they understand its a PROCESS not an EVENT, then you can have a normal life.

    The only ones I ever really have a problem with are people I think of as, "amateur web-wannabees" ....they know just a little, and want to do your work for you, and want to be 'tutored' for free. I think one I have believes thats what she paid for.

    Setting expectations, as already mentioned, is big. Also, I never want to do any thing too fast. If we agree on some action, I don't want it perceived that it was quick and easy for me to do.

    For all their occasionally demanding ways, I love Offline clients. They usually have more money, more solid 'real businesses, and more staying power than online types.
    ...plus I like dealing/meeting fact-to-face.
    _____
    Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author dmramirez
    Someone may have already said this in so many words, but I thought I'd add my take on it just to get my view across.

    Step 1. Provide clear guidelines, expectations, and DISCLAIMERS, for any service you sell.

    Step 2. Fulfill those expectations 100% (or at least fulfill to the point that they can't prove otherwise)

    Step 3. When they nag, stick to your guns, RESTATE YOURSELF like crazy, and let them know that they got exactly what they paid for.

    If you do this effectively and KINDLY, they'll understand what your service is and what it is not. If they don't like your service at that point, they'll either ask for more (at a higher price) or just cut their losses. If they do like it, they'll stick with it. No grey area. But, most importantly, it will get them off your back AND will give you the ability to dispute chargebacks and refunds regardless of the outcome.
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  • Profile picture of the author danielkanuck
    I'm assuming that you love the business venture of being a marketing consultant, but the most obvious way to not deal with demanding (and annoying) clients is to sell $300 information products that you sell on a daily basis. This way you earn a nice income and let the big and nagging clients to fend for themselves instead of being a**holes to you.

    But you say you like the consulting biz, so i guess you will kinda have to deal with it. If you're looking for more new clients, the first thing you have to ask is if you have enough time in the day to take on new clients. 40 clients sounds like alot... how do you go about managing 40 clients on a monthly basis?
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    • Profile picture of the author Caper224
      Originally Posted by danielkanuck View Post

      I'm assuming that you love the business venture of being a marketing consultant, but the most obvious way to not deal with demanding (and annoying) clients is to sell $300 information products that you sell on a daily basis. This way you earn a nice income and let the big and nagging clients to fend for themselves instead of being a**holes to you.

      But you say you like the consulting biz, so i guess you will kinda have to deal with it. If you're looking for more new clients, the first thing you have to ask is if you have enough time in the day to take on new clients. 40 clients sounds like alot... how do you go about managing 40 clients on a monthly basis?
      Yeah^^^I'm building my info-business income stream as I want to wind down my offline business. Lol, I don't manage all 40. I hired a few project managers to work with my smaller clients on my behalf. The bigger clients I manage personally just because of the revenue their business generates for me. But, your absolutely right about the info-products and I'm right there with ya.
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  • Profile picture of the author Caper224
    I noticed a lot of people stating the obvious such as "set expectations." for those of you with extensive experience in the offline market you know no matter how upfront you are about the pace of ranking a website their will always be that 1 out of 10 that still wants to call you everyday asking the same questions.
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  • Profile picture of the author MaxReferrals
    Easily solved.

    Set an hourly rate with an agreement after the project is completed for ongoing support. Go easy to start, but if they start being a pain in the ass and nagging, start the clock.

    KnowwhutImean Vern?
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  • Profile picture of the author e30drifter
    Some really great advice here.
    I really like the ticket system.
    And if they still want to talk to you, bill them for every stupid phone call they make.
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    • Profile picture of the author jlongoria
      LOL, I agree with this. My lawyers office does exactly this, they bill you with every phone call as well if you send a fax.
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  • Profile picture of the author omk
    Yeah, that's the dirty little secret of offline marketing. The human factor. Working with real live people, face to face is sometimes difficult.
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  • Profile picture of the author mr2monster
    Sounds to me like you're working with the wrong clients.

    There's no point in working with someone you don't enjoy working with.

    Get rid of them and find some more that you DO enjoy working with.

    I know it's counter-intuitive, but it's the truth.. you'll be considerably more happy and so will your clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author ebizman
    I also hate sales/dealing with clients as well but I love the money. It's all about patience and you'll be good!
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    • Profile picture of the author swilliams09
      here is one of the best articles I've read about dealing with real world clients. I'm working in video production and we run into these all of the time. Clients or Grinders.

      Clients or Grinders: Understanding the Three Market Types - Creative COW

      I am always amazed that the Low-End 15% of the market is the first part of the market that most new businesses set out to work with. Some do it consciously and others unconsciously but the end result is the same -- a lot of work for very little money, if any. This often happens because many people think that you have to undercut existing businesses to build a new business. That's simply not true. But if you believe that you do have to undercut the market and you price yourself as a "low-ball" artist, you set yourself up to attract the people that occupy the lowest 15% of the market. I call these people "Grinders" and for good reason: They will grind you and demand that you treat them like the people in the Top 15% category -- and they will expect that treatment from you as they push and push to get things below your cost. They'll promise you more jobs down the road and that just this one job needs a deal -- the others will make you some money. Yeah, right! The truth is: they'll never let you make a dime off them while you suffer through insults, mistrust, constant changes and arguments over what you agreed to or didn't -- and no matter how well you do, nine times out of ten there will almost always be something wrong with the job you did. They will never be happy. They do not recommend you to their associates and this is probably due to the fact that they know themselves quite well and think that everyone is like that creep they see in the mirror every morning. If they need to invent a reason not to pay you, they can get incredibly creative! The Net is full of stories of people trying to collect on debts made by these people.

      I just recently ran into a few grinders on the warrior forum and 1 in real life. I had to go back and reread this article and fire some people.
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      • Profile picture of the author Caper224
        Originally Posted by swilliams09 View Post

        here is one of the best articles I've read about dealing with real world clients. I'm working in video production and we run into these all of the time. Clients or Grinders.

        Clients or Grinders: Understanding the Three Market Types - Creative COW




        I just recently ran into a few grinders on the warrior forum and 1 in real life. I had to go back and reread this article and fire some people.
        ^^^That article was very true, thats why I never low-balled myself. My lowest retainer fee is 800 monthly. So, though that article is true is doesn't really apply to me. Furthermore, My problem clients are my higher-end clients paying higher 4 figure monthly retainers. So, my issue stems from they're annoying as hell but telling a high 4 figure a month check bye bye isn't easy to do. However, all of these great replies in the thread an pms people have provided me has me leaning towards just turning these accounts over to project managers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Racquel_McFarlane07
    Banned
    Why not try turning your frustration into feelings of appreciation. Focus on feeling thankful that out of the myriad of businesses they could be with, they chose yours.
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    • Profile picture of the author Caper224
      Originally Posted by Racquel_McFarlane07 View Post

      Why not try turning your frustration into feelings of appreciation. Focus on feeling thankful that out of the myriad of businesses they could be with, they chose yours.
      ^^^That is the ideal perspective to have on this. However, I don't feel they chose me over anyone else. After I sold them, in their eyes there was no one else. In my experience, higher end clients are rarely shoppers, their coat-tailers. Throw a big name in their industry at them or an amazing case study an checks flock to you like teenage girls to justin bieber, lol.
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      • Profile picture of the author High Horsepower
        I've been in the offline market since 2003 so I'll throw in my two cents.

        #1. How are you positioning yourself when prospects find you?

        #2. How are you managing expectations?

        #3. Price your services accordingly if people want hand-holding. Have multiple price levels for service. Most will take the cheapest available. If they continue to nag you then tell them they need to Upgrade to next level.

        #4. Stop doing SEO and building Websites. These are the two areas clients will complain the most about.

        #5. Tell clients they can only contact you via FAX. When people have to hand-write or type something they tend to ask more relevant questions. This also stops every brain fart they have so emails will be eliminated. You'll also find a lot less complaints when they have to FAX only.
        No more phone calls, no more emails, fax only!

        #6. People will only do to you what you allow them to do!
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        • Profile picture of the author e30drifter
          Originally Posted by High Horsepower View Post

          I've been in the offline market since 2003 so I'll throw in my two cents.

          #1. How are you positioning yourself when prospects find you?

          #2. How are you managing expectations?

          #3. Price your services accordingly if people want hand-holding. Have multiple price levels for service. Most will take the cheapest available. If they continue to nag you then tell them they need to Upgrade to next level.

          #4. Stop doing SEO and building Websites. These are the two areas clients will complain the most about.

          #5. Tell clients they can only contact you via FAX. When people have to hand-write or type something they tend to ask more relevant questions. This also stops every brain fart they have so emails will be eliminated. You'll also find a lot less complaints when they have to FAX only.
          No more phone calls, no more emails, fax only!

          #6. People will only do to you what you allow them to do!
          What services you are offering? Just consulting? Or what?
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    I agree...some Offline Clients can be a pain in the rear. I took on anybody on my first full year in 2008. In 2009, started cherry picking who I wanted to work with. In 2010, I kept a few of my best clients and then started consulting. Your first year will always be tough, it gets better. Hugh market for Offline Marketing....
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  • Profile picture of the author krikkod
    I agree with High Horsepowers point number 6 - People will only do to you what you allow them to do.

    So dont fire your clients - just give them expectations, and if it ever goes above that then start charging for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Webjutsu
    I got a handle on this problem by implementing a project management system into the customer management cycle. I purchased ActiveCollab and created detailedtask/checklists list for every service I offer. It includes what I do, what I need from them, etc and I follow it to the tee. Each new client gets an account they can log into and I import the checklists for whatever service I'm providing.
    This keeps them on schedule and shows exactly what I"m doing for the project or service. It allow allows me to keep straight what needs to be done.
    Anything outside of these checklists gets billed at a high rate.
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  • Profile picture of the author ahhuann
    i'll charge them highest price as u did, hehe~ in fact, try to swallow the anger, and get motivated by thinking on "the money will flow in, who cares".

    good luck to your business!
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    • Profile picture of the author JamieSEO
      Originally Posted by ahhuann View Post

      i'll charge them highest price as u did, hehe~ in fact, try to swallow the anger, and get motivated by thinking on "the money will flow in, who cares".

      good luck to your business!
      lmao - sounds like my quoting system:

      Materials/Costs: $xx
      Time: $xx
      Profit Margin: x% for great clients, xx% for standard clients, xxx% for pain in the butt clients, xxxx% for absolute a$$hat clients

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  • Profile picture of the author JamieSEO
    Originally Posted by Caper224 View Post

    I really really really hate dealing with offlline clients. They can be so annoying. "I don't like this about my website," "I read this blah about google is it going to hurt my site?" "You built my website 2 weeks ago why isn't on the first page for the keyword health insurance yet!!!?" I mean jeez!! Stop calling me!!!!

    Their unrealistic expectations, their neediness, and their impatience can be so annoying. But, its still by far the easiest way to make money in the online space.
    Unfortunately the 'unrealistic expectations, neediness and impatience' is by no means exclusive to offline clients. In fact - I find it easier to resign myself to offline clients that act like that since I know I make more money from them than doing the same thing for online clients.

    I think every one of us can provide offline client horror stories - being woken up at 2am by a client calling to say their site was down... eventually realizing that the clients power is out and they just can't turn on their PC to see their site... :rolleyes:

    There are three ways to handle difficult clients:

    1 - Grin and bare it if you think it will lead to other client referrals (chanting "think about the money, think about the bills" works for this)

    2 - When considering new client requests, take note of how needy/demanding they are in the process of giving them a detailed quote. If they are a pain in the butt BEFORE you start the order, just say "no thanks, too busy" and turn them down.

    3 - Create an FAQ of the stuff these types of clients always ask. Keep a text document of them and then just copy and paste responses into emails to save time.

    Just a tip - for any pain in the butt clients (or clients that you have not worked with before) always break the job up into stages and make them pay for each stage in advance. Pain in the butt clients are notorious for changing direction every 5 minutes and you want to make sure you get paid for the work you put in.

    If you still end up running around screaming - just tell them "look buddy, you are paying for my time/advice/expertise if you don't want to follow it then go jump..."
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  • Profile picture of the author Fun to Write
    When I worked as a health careers coordinator at a university, I was the one who had to field all of the little questions over and over - by phone, in person and email. It got real tiring.

    So, I helped develop a series of emails that explained took the most popular questions and answered them in detail. This can also be done with a website page. Basically, they are given the information in a way that even a monkey can understand.

    This cut way down on basic questions. Mostly special circumstances that required an individual response was left.

    They're calling because they don't understand the process - even if you already explained it once. People tend to skip over things or hear something different. Create a standardized way of handling this and you'll have less aggravation.
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  • Profile picture of the author electronik69
    FIRE THEM!!! Do what ever it takes. Stop wasting your time with them 8/40 that is 20% of your income yes it is a fair bit but if you are doing a good job for your other clients I am sure they can all refer you some people if you ask them. Also if you fire them you can spend more time on the clients that are valuable to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vanessa Reece
    I have to agree - if they're making you frustrated fire them. There are plenty more fish in the offline sea. I learnt this the hard way and felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I let that nagging % go. You can't change them. So why try? Just be sure to state firmly to new clients you get what they are getting, what you can do, and what you won't - unless they pay you more

    I'm all for being thankful but their is a limit.
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  • Profile picture of the author jr1228
    I used to panic 24/7 about responding to my clients' questions (including a few of the "nagging" type). It started to make me really hate doing this type of work, so I took a step back and set boundaries. I made sure my clients knew I only answered email from x a.m. to x p.m., I don't answer anything on the weekends unless it is urgent, I will return calls within x hours (instead of immediately), etc. And you know what? No one freaked out or stopped working with me, and I felt better right away. I don't want to be the business owner who is chained to their computer and phone all of the time.

    I also pre-screen all potential clients. If I get a feeling they are going to be a hassle to work with, then I don't work with them. I'd rather be happy and have a little less in my bank account than stressed out all of the time!
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