Dealing With Pain in the Butt Clients?

23 replies
Hey you guys I have a frustration right now and it is casuing me to lose sleep. I recently acquired a new client as I am getting into offline. When I started the project it seemed like it would be small as they don;t know much about the net and how to set up sites and all so I figure a simple wordpress site would be great for what they wanted to do. Now as I get into the projct I am seeing that I am getting myself into more than I can chew as there is always a new change or an additional to the site which was not aort of the initial plan. I feel like I am being taken for a ride as I did not charge them upfront being I need the referrals but now I don't care and just want to wash my hands of the whole project. What should I do?
#butt #clients #dealing #pain
  • Profile picture of the author IndieRetailer
    Well, did you make them aware of the "original plan"? Did they know what to expect of you and what they were entitled to expect? Did you bite off "more than you can chew" or are they asking more of you than was originally agreed upon?

    These are really all rhetorical questions you can ask yourself when figuring out how you're going to handle the situation. However, as you answer these questions, you should come to a conclusion as to who's responsible for the misunderstanding. Ultimately, it's likely going to be you.

    Having that in mind, you have one task and two options. First, you need to have a discussion with your client and go over what the "original plan" was and make sure they understand it. Now, if the plan wasn't presented and understood in the first place, then that's you're fault and you should apologize for it and then explain what services you're prepared to provide for them, and you're probably going to have to be generous and take it as a lesson learned.

    If the original plan was laid out in a written agreement, as it should be, and they simply misunderstood the plan and went off with other requests not outlined in the agreement, then you simply have to reel them back in and review the agreement with them. You can then explain that you can provide those additional services as requested, but you will need to charge extra for those services.

    OR... If you're truly in over your head and they're asking you for things that you don't feel confident in your abilities to fulfill, then you should make them aware of the element that you're not as familiar with, but explain that you have a colleague that you can call upon to assist with the task and it just may take a couple extra days to complete. Once you've established that, come back here (or fiverr, or other outsource) and look for someone to help you with that task. Of course, you'll have to pay for that service, but you can probably outsource the task for less than you'll ultimately get paid from your client.

    On the other hand, if they're really just a big ol' pain in the butt just for the sake of being a pain in the butt.... then you can either finish the job, and grin and bear it. Or, again, sit them down and tell them what you will or will not do. If they're not in agreement, then I don't imagine you'll be that heart broken if they fire you.
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  • Profile picture of the author gorufus
    I've been there, and trust me, when those that have been in offline for awhile say get rid of them (those types of clients), do it.

    For some reason, I don't understand why after it seems like thousands have switched to offline marketing (or started) we all have had this same issue. I remember my first couple of clients, I felt like I bent over backwards for them for very little payoff for me. And it's easy to say that I had the wrong mindset, the one of if we do right by the client, more will come. But some people just take take and take. And we stay in it because we either need the cash or we need the recognition, more often its for the cash.

    I actually "fired" one of those clients and the other one I sat down with and explained my frustrations. I strait up told them that I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. Every since then she has been one of my most awesome clients (sends lots of referrals).

    So after that long rant, sorry, here's a valuable lesson for you. Make sure that you set the expectations from the start. If it's a simple wordpress website, tell them that. Tell them that any additional work = additional cost. They will appreciate you and you'll have a much better working relationship with them. In hindsight, I think I could have worked things out with the client I fired, but hey, we win some and we lose some.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author blillard
    Yes thanks for the replies. When we went over the plan no it was not an aggrement written out lesson learned. The plan was to build a site to promote a music event and sell tickets. In the process the client deiced to add changes and more pages basically wanting to sell everything in the sun which I'm fine with but I wish it would all be presented at once in cohesive plan instead of waking up and deciding to add a new page or picture.

    I want this to go well as this is my first client but dang you guys its hard to work people who feel like they know all but really know nothing. I will sit down and go over everything tomorrow.
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    • Profile picture of the author barbling
      Originally Posted by blillard View Post

      Yes thanks for the replies. When we went over the plan no it was not an aggrement written out lesson learned. The plan was to build a site to promote a music event and sell tickets. In the process the client deiced to add changes and more pages basically wanting to sell everything in the sun which I'm fine with but I wish it would all be presented at once in cohesive plan instead of waking up and deciding to add a new page or picture.

      I want this to go well as this is my first client but dang you guys its hard to work people who feel like they know all but really know nothing. I will sit down and go over everything tomorrow.
      Lots of empathy to you - I sure do know how you feel.

      When you sit down with your client, it might help to see how they are perceiving the situation. Since you're doing great work, they most likely don't want to lose you...they might not even be aware of how their actions have been affecting you.

      So, you can simply state that as you're both business-folk, you know that honest communications are important and that both your times are valuable. And then go from there.

      It's really tough to value yourself, especially once you're starting out. But sometimes, showing you value yourself will make others realize, Hey! Perhaps I need to value this guy too and not take him for granted.

      Best of skill!
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  • Profile picture of the author gorufus
    I can completely understand your situation. I think you need to sit down with them and just set expectations.

    You haven't been paid yet right? Are they paying you upon completion? I would have at least gotten 1/2 upfront worst case 1/3. But I probably don't need to tell you that.

    Don't think of it as, man I just lost a client. Who cares. Even if you did lose this one, you're where you were a few weeks ago or whenever you got them but now you're armed with tons more information to make the next one better. And you'll be less stressed.
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  • Profile picture of the author somacorellc
    This is exactly the reason I raised my prices.

    I used to charge $400 for a website. I would get clients that don't know anything about the net (this is BAD, because they will instantly be an expert when you show anything to them).

    I got one client whose only input was "I like green." This particular client only paid me half the money and then wouldn't take my calls or return my emails.

    I currently have a tree service client who is hard to get in touch with and likes to rail on about the government. That's nice, whatever, but we have a website we need to do. I would like to mention that the only reason I currently have a cheap-o client is that I told him about 7 months ago that I'd charge him $400 for a site and I like to stick to my word. The alternative here is that I could have referred him to another cheap-o web developer.

    Anyway. I now have two tiers of website pricing. Tier 1 is $2,000 minimum. I've had the BEST clients since switching to this model - and, bonus - I get to do 5x LESS work for the same amount of money.

    Tier 2 is $5,000 minimum and is done from scratch by a graphic designer I'm partnered with.

    Raise your prices. You'll never look back.
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    • Profile picture of the author Carvalho
      Originally Posted by somacorellc View Post

      This is exactly the reason I raised my prices.

      I used to charge $400 for a website. I would get clients that don't know anything about the net (this is BAD, because they will instantly be an expert when you show anything to them).

      I got one client whose only input was "I like green." This particular client only paid me half the money and then wouldn't take my calls or return my emails.

      I currently have a tree service client who is hard to get in touch with and likes to rail on about the government. That's nice, whatever, but we have a website we need to do. I would like to mention that the only reason I currently have a cheap-o client is that I told him about 7 months ago that I'd charge him $400 for a site and I like to stick to my word. The alternative here is that I could have referred him to another cheap-o web developer.

      Anyway. I now have two tiers of website pricing. Tier 1 is $2,000 minimum. I've had the BEST clients since switching to this model - and, bonus - I get to do 5x LESS work for the same amount of money.

      Tier 2 is $5,000 minimum and is done from scratch by a graphic designer I'm partnered with.

      Raise your prices. You'll never look back.
      You can get clients for $2k and $5k?

      Can I ask you how do you find clients that are willing to pay that much for websites?

      I understand if you don't want to answer my previous question, then here goes another one, how many clients you can get per year willing to pay that prices?
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      • Profile picture of the author somacorellc
        Sure. I find clients advertising in the newspaper or Yellow Pages (phone book) that are already spending lots of money. Then, I call them and pitch them a website if they don't have one, or pitch them another service if they do.

        Or, a lot of the time people call me directly, or my friends help me out and refer people that might be interested. I have a generous referral program so many friends of mine try to help out when they can.

        I only need two $2k clients a month to make a decent living, so what I try to do is get them on some sort of recurring plan like SEO, Email List Building, etc and go from there. That way I build up recurring while doing one off projects.

        How many? This month so far I've had three websites.


        Originally Posted by Carvalho View Post

        You can get clients for $2k and $5k?

        Can I ask you how do you find clients that are willing to pay that much for websites?

        I understand if you don't want to answer my previous question, then here goes another one, how many clients you can get per year willing to pay that prices?
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    • Profile picture of the author sjohn
      Originally Posted by somacorellc View Post

      Anyway. I now have two tiers of website pricing. Tier 1 is $2,000 minimum. I've had the BEST clients since switching to this model - and, bonus - I get to do 5x LESS work for the same amount of money.

      Tier 2 is $5,000 minimum and is done from scratch by a graphic designer I'm partnered with.

      Raise your prices. You'll never look back.
      Can I ask how large these sites are that you build for these two models.
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      • Profile picture of the author somacorellc
        How large? I only do Wordpress, so it doesn't matter. We're done when the client approves the site. Easy peasey.


        Originally Posted by sjohn View Post

        Can I ask how large these sites are that you build for these two models.
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  • Profile picture of the author bit twiddler
    Hey blillard,
    The responses here surely demonstrate that what you have experienced is typical. Everyone stumbles, everyone learns lessons, and never should you feel bad in any way about having clients of any kind. The reason is simple. Every prospective client has a unique pattern to the way they do business and every vendor also has a way of doing business. The onus is on you, the vendor, to make the adjustments and offer flexible services. This is actually a blessing in disguise because it allows for you to make a custom fit for your prospective client.

    As others have stated in thread, be sure to document everything clearly in an original contract. Then every time they come up with something new they want (an addendum to the original contract), or they want to change something that alters the original contract (change), you now have a new sales opportunity. A good thing, not a pain in the ass thing. In my opinion, the only difference between and opportunity and a pain in the ass is whether you get paid. You rarely see anything as a pain in the butt when you are getting money for what ever they may want.

    In my opinion, always see any request by a client to be an opportunity to sell more. Just remember that it all relies on having original contracts on which you can add new works orders. I my businesses, for 40 years, I have used what contractors call "Change Orders". They are self explanatory. When a client asks fro anything that is not part of the original agreement, I automatically pull out or email a Change Order. Most of my clients recognize that they are dealing with new expenditures the second I pull this document out. It's name is self explanatory to them. They always ask one of thwo things when they see it. 1. "How much will this cost me", or 2. "Oh, I have to pay extra for that?". You see, in both instances, they have opened the door for you to lay out another sale to them.

    My pain in the ass clients, and we all have them, are kept in check by using contracts and change orders. I always see any client, pain in the butt or not, that presents any kind of change as opportunity to sell them something more.

    T J
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    USA
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    • Profile picture of the author sjohn
      Originally Posted by bit twiddler View Post

      In my opinion, always see any request by a client to be an opportunity to sell more. Just remember that it all relies on having original contracts on which you can add new works orders. I my businesses, for 40 years, I have used what contractors call "Change Orders". They are self explanatory.
      Thats a great idea, thanks for sharing.
      Do you have a example of the kind of details that you should put on these types of documents?
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      • Profile picture of the author bit twiddler
        Originally Posted by sjohn View Post

        Thats a great idea, thanks for sharing.
        Do you have a example of the kind of details that you should put on these types of documents?
        This is just a sample, it needs to have logos, some additional lines of information, disclaimer, etc.
        A standard change order should include the following:
        1. Job name.
        2. Client's name, address, and phone number.
        3. A complete description of new work to be performed.
        4. Total price for materials and labor, or service, etc., to complete the change.
        5. Revised date of completion due to the change order.
        6. Signatures of the vendor.
        7. Signatures of the client.
        A sample change order form is shown below:
        Sample Change Order Form
        JOB NAME: _________________________________________
        CHANGE ORDER # _________________________________
        DATE: _____________________________________________
        CLIENT(S):________________________________________ ___
        __________________________________________________ ____
        Description of changes to current contract #






        CLIENT(S) hereby authorize the following changes in the plans and specifications of the above described construction project, and/or order that additional materials, supplies, services, labor and other items listed below and/or requires to complete this Change Order to all other terms and conditions in the contract with ___________________________.
        Charge Order Amount $ ______________________________
        Payment for this Change Order is due upon (Terms of Payment Here) of the change order work. All provisions of contracts between the above parties pertaining to the above job are applicable to this agreement. This Change Order may extend the time required to complete the project. Please see paragraph "Extra Time" in your contract.
        Your Name: [Your Business Name]
        Client Name(s): [Client Company Name]
        Accepted this ________ day of ______
        By ________________________
        By _______________________
        Signature
        T J Tutor
        T J Tutor, LLC
        Syracuse, NY 13224
        USA
        315-569-7523
        tj@tjtutor.com
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    This is another reason why it is so important to have customer qualification built into a consistent sales process that you work through Each And Every Time you sit down with a new prospect. Spend more time on the front end to make sure you don't get screwed up on the back end. Finding out your prospect's needs and intentions, defining a scope of work, uncovering their true budget and if they can afford you, and most importantly learning if you and they are a personality fit or not--all these things need to happen. Otherwise you get into these exact same murky and frustrating situations.

    Now that you're in one, you need to bite the bullet and sit down with your client for the uncomfortable conversation. TJ's recommendation about change orders above is good advice. "Yes, I can do that...here's what that change will cost." Remember, it's better to walk away and find a new client than stay with one that's making you miserable--it's faster to generate more revenue this way, too.
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    • Profile picture of the author swilliams09
      Scope creep - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


      Money stops this. When they start asking for extras outside of what you initially agreed on, your only reply is "absolutely, I can do that for you. It is outside of our initial agreement so I will have to charge you X per hour" either they will agree, balk, or let it go. Either you get paid for what your worth, they leave and no more headaches, or you finish the job. It's win all around. Some might accuse you of nickel and dimeing them. But you aren't. You have to get paid what you are worth, otherwise you will not stay in business and clients will eat up all of your time and leave you with nothing to show for it.
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      • Profile picture of the author somacorellc
        This. Also I love your avatar.


        Originally Posted by swilliams09 View Post

        Scope creep - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


        Money stops this. When they start asking for extras outside of what you initially agreed on, your only reply is "absolutely, I can do that for you. It is outside of our initial agreement so I will have to charge you X per hour" either they will agree, balk, or let it go. Either you get paid for what your worth, they leave and no more headaches, or you finish the job. It's win all around. Some might accuse you of nickel and dimeing them. But you aren't. You have to get paid what you are worth, otherwise you will not stay in business and clients will eat up all of your time and leave you with nothing to show for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Looks like you learned a very important lesson, always charge up front. Now, how much time have you invested? How much more time will you invest? If it is less than what you already invested, then continue on so you get paid. If not, then drop the client, and take down the site. Or you could just be straight forward and honest with them and say "look, I need money if you want this complete. You have a complete site, right now it is just being picky. I will make those additions that you want but I do need to get paid."
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Somacorellc makes a good point about finding higher-level clients: you only need to find and please a few of them to make as much or more than you would scrambling around trying to find, close and make happy a bunch of clients who have very little money. I do this with article writing. While other article writers are beating the bushes and getting into metaphorical knife-fights in competition for $5 jobs, I'm concentrating on making my $50 and $100/article clients happy and obviously having to do a lot less to make more money. And that's one small part of my revenue.

    Someone will always be available who can and will pay more than what you're charging for your product or service. Qualification is the key. There are people who will pay $10,000 for a website...possibly even the very same website you just sold to a $500 client. The question is: how big of a problem are you solving for your client? That's what you get paid for, not your technical expertise. Lawyers are highly paid, because they can solve their clients the very big problem of getting them out of jail.

    You can sell a $4,000 website, easily, by finding someone who can afford it, and has a big enough problem (ie. they want to use the website to attract $100,000 of business over the next year). Show them that you can do this, and you'll get your big payday.

    Of course...you then have to fulfill your promise. To make your clients not become pain-in-the-butt customers, get your scope of supply nailed down and all the details (like how you're getting paid) worked out before you start. Ask them this: "What would define 'success' for this project for you?"
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  • Profile picture of the author blillard
    Thanks for all the great responses you guys. I just bit the bullet and delivered on what I promised. I did charge them for the extra changes which were small once I told them that it was not free. I then went to fiverr and just outsourced what I coudln't do that well. In the end the I finished the site and now I can not trip so much lol.

    I will take everyone's AWESOME advise and first RAISE my prices, get contracts, and look for higher paying clients. Now I have one on my resume so I hope it gets easier for me. Thanks again for all the great responses.
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  • Profile picture of the author Voasi
    I've got in yelling matches with some of my clients... it's funny. The smaller the client, the more work they seem to be. My larger clients hardly ever talk to me.

    We stopped taking clients under $1000 just so we didn't have to deal with these types of clients.

    About your problem specifically, just tell them...

    "Hey, this all sounds great and I want to get started with it. For these additions, that are outside the scope of the contract, it will be $X to do."

    One of my production staff came to me with this same problem 2 weeks ago. The owner kept wanting to change the scope of the project, basically not allowing us to FINISH and move on to the next phase.

    I jump in and ask my staff, "How many hours is all this going to take?" They gave me a number and then I slapped a price tag on it. He quickly replied, "Ok, let's just stay on point with the project and I can add this stuff later".

    Clients will walk all over you if you allow them to. Everyone wants to get a deal and they'll stretch your contract if you don't put done the hammer. Be strong and stern - you can't work for free and owners don't expect you to, but they'll walk over you if you allow it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Seantrepreneur
    Yup, Change Orders are awesome and will solve this problem.

    That's also why it's always smart to have a contract signed that lays out exactly the services preformed. I know a lot of people will say there is no need for these, but I think you found out the hard way how beneficial they can be in the long run.

    Caulk this up as a learning experience. Everyone would love to be successful without having any of these experiences, but that's unrealistic and will only make you a better business person.

    Congrats on getting that client tho!

    Sean
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  • Profile picture of the author dancorkill
    Turf him.

    It's a good lesson, if the first time someone comes up with a bizarre request you do it for free. Guess what they will come up with more and so on and so forth until your CRAZY.

    You teach people how you want to be treated.

    P.S. working on the dream of getting referrals is the sure way to the poor house. Guess what kind of people tight ass clients recommend, yep more tight ass clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author Suze Thomas
    I faced the same thing with my very first client, caused me many headaches. I wanted to fire them, but couldn't afford to. Now, I would and have approached it differently. The first mention of any thing outside our agreement, and I always point out there will be some additional charge for that, "let me check what our agreement says" usually slows them down pretty quick.
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