A not so fun client to work with... Need advice

20 replies
So, I got a client under semi odd terms, the person wanted to be a rep, was/is working for a kitchen company, referred them and then did nothing else (but micro-manage and offer input on stuff he had no knowledge about)

My problem was the owner is functionally illiterate and can't read e-mails or understand anything, so he pretty much appointed this guy in charge of it since he recommended it to him.

So, they've been paying me $399 a month for SEO, since December 1st. Around February they hadn't seen any leads or calls coming in, which I informed them their site wasn't converting because the site was in top 5 for all keywords we were targeting and it was getting traffic from the right keywords (10-15 hits a day, I know it's not a ton, but we're looking at ZERO calls a month). They they informed me that they would only continue with my services until March, if they hadn't seen results (sales/leads) then they were going to stop it. Which I said no problem at all, there is NO contract or written agreement at all in this.

So, I found a guy on here who was offering free web design to the first 5 people that replied to his post, and I made the cut.

I knew these guys needed help and weren't willing to pay anymore money so I took that free website offer and gave it to them, hoping to put in a web site that would actually convert the traffic, but, the deal I made was they would have to stick with me until June if I came through on this site.

They agreed, I had their website transfered to my host so we could load up word press - the host they had had it's own html editor which was very limited.

So, I transferred it over (in hind sight prematurely) and was waiting for the web design guy (who made a mock-up and was quite responsive for a while) to finish the site to load up, and he eventually just completely bailed out on us. So, I'm stuck with a crappy word press site for these guys.

I made them a site with the mini-site generator in Main Street Marketing Machines just to get in front of traffic and hopefully convert, I suggested them to make a more enticing offer to get people on the phone, but they told me to stop with the "fluffy" stuff and get people to call them, he insisted they needed more "Google", meaning they need more SEO...

I told him they were well ranked for their main keywords, and while there is room for improvement, they stopped paying me, so I don't see why I should continue the SEO work.. I told them it's fine, and gave them direct contact to my SEO guys, essentially cutting out my fees and told them to fly at it.

From this point I'm trying to remove myself from the situation, still telling them I'll take care of their website, but to let me put my offers in place so we can try and convert the damn traffic. They would come to me with complaints like the website is loading too slow; I ran tests on their site and a competitors, load time for their site: 97 milliseconds load time for competitor: 6 seconds.

He ignored that, and got onto something else, and then something else, and everytime I politely showed him facts that would show he is wrong. I finally said just left me load up your old website and transfer your hosting back to the old company and I'll be on my way, this didn't work.


THENNNN, he's just responded with, they're going to come after me for a refund because none of this worked??

Now, since I'm a marketer, and not a business man, I really have no clue if they actually have anything against me here, literally no contracts were involved and I never guaranteed any sort of results.

Any advice please, thanks!
#advice #client #fun #work
  • Profile picture of the author maverick8
    Maybe the keywords that are being targeted dont have the intent behind them. They are bringing in people that are not that interested in what your client has to sell.
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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by maverick8 View Post

      Maybe the keywords that are being targeted dont have the intent behind them. They are bringing in people that are not that interested in what your client has to sell.
      A kitchen cabinet company.

      Three keywords targeted

      Kitchen cabinets + city
      cabinet refacing + city
      kitchen renovations + city
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Originally Posted by wilder1047 View Post

    ..there is NO contract or written agreement at all in this.
    And right there, is your problem. :rolleyes:
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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by John Romaine View Post

      And right there, is your problem. :rolleyes:
      I know, I screwed up big time on that front. I should have mentioned that I'm well aware of how badly I screwed ALL of this up, haha, and it's been a great learning experience. Just wondering advice on the current situation.

      This definitely clears up why all the vets around here to make the business owner work to work with you, and not the other way around.
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  • Profile picture of the author raymol
    What a complicated matters...

    i'm sorry i think i dont have the rights to tell you how to do..
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  • Profile picture of the author Stranger Danger
    I suppose they could take you to small claims court, but couldn't you just print out a traffic report to show proof of your work?
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  • Profile picture of the author NowMadam
    How can they take him to court? If there was no agreements made aren't both sides equally powerless? Besides if they paid him for SEO and he got their site ranking in Google, hasn't he done the work he was paid for? And then he tried to make them a better converting site for free... Sounds to me like the business owner is not very bright and will fail to do anything of legal consequence.
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  • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
    I would not worry and move on. You delivered a service so the likelihood of being sued and losing is just about zero.

    This behavior usually means they are just not able to pay you. It was a typical tenant move in landlord-tenant court. I didnt pay 5 months of rent because this and that and that and that...never just admitting they could not afford the rent and leaving.

    Although it is hard to learn (myself included), we cannot please everyone all the time. I do feel for you as I have dealt with MANY of those in the past and even to this day at times.
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    I have no agenda but to help those in the same situation. This I feel will pay the bills.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    The right move here is to move on. Tying your energy up fighting this person won't help you. Getting new clients will.

    Take your time in selecting new clients. Qualify carefully. Don't let people in who shouldn't be working with you. It's faster and better to discard someone who isn't a perfect fit and find another prospect to turn into a great client.

    I talk about this here.
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    • Profile picture of the author David Miller
      I don't see where there are any actionable issues that your "client" could take. Since there's no contract, they don't actually qualify as a client in the traditional sense.

      They could however, pull the old verbal agreement out of air, but verbal agreements hold no weight in the real world.

      This also goes to prove that there really ain't no such thing as a free lunch, or website. I'm a little surprised no one asked about the warrior in question unless they have in PM, and if they have, I would ask for a PM as well.

      Sorry to hear about this aggravation.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Now, since I'm a marketer, and not a business man,
    Frankly that's the problem. Its one of the largest problems around here with people moving into the Offline service providers niche.

    It appears you failed to set expectations, you failed to tell them getting traffic and converting traffic are completely two different things, and yes you failed at getting a signed contract. I imagine you do have a contract you use for other clients?

    So now I'm done scolding you! LOL Move on and just learn from this experience so you don't repeat it. = )
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    • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      It appears you failed to set expectations, you failed to tell them getting traffic and converting traffic are completely two different things
      Before you take on an SEO customer you MUST ensure to the best of your ability that they will get results. If they do not you will not keep them as a customer. It sounds to me as if you didn't do that in the beginning like you should have and only looked at it as an afterthought. If the site's not right then the traffic is wasted. They will not check you out again - first impressions and all that. When you realised that the site wasn't converting you should have suspended the SEO work until the site was remedied. You could have said - "this month I'm not doing SEO - I'll use the €399 to get your site updated". You're the expert here. It's up to you to lead. It's your job to educate that person to the standard required for you to do your job. They guy might not read but you can be damn sure that if he runs a reasonably successful business that he's no fool. You can explain stuff verbally rather than in writing. If a client will not follow your lead then walk away.
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  • Profile picture of the author Seantrepreneur
    This is one of those mistakes that I say newbies will make. It's a great example that the offline world isn't perfect and you will make mistakes are you go.

    Now with that said don't let it bother you. While I'm not a lawyer and I only have some of the facts, I would say you don't really have anything to worry about. If they don't have money to pay you for your services they sure as heck don't have money to pay an attorney to even file the paperwork to bring you to court.

    Remind them very nicely that you have all the emails saved (I'm hoping you do) of your past correspondence with them if they would like to see what you agreed to.

    This is also why I'm a HUGE proponent of getting a signed contract. It always make me cringe when I see Warriors advising others that they don't need a contract. Make sure that you always get a signed contract in the future. The word contract alone will scare people enough that they won't even think about "legal" action if you did deliver.

    Good luck with this situation my man. Feel free to add my on Skype if you want to chat further.

    Sean
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  • Profile picture of the author Hugh
    Run. Don't walk. Mail him a check for $100. Wish him well.
    Say "Good-bye."

    Then go talk to people you can help.

    Hugh
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    Written agreements. Always.

    Not contracts. Agreements.

    Cheers,

    ~Dexx
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  • Profile picture of the author emrom
    SEO is more than just Page Ranking. Sometimes you just have a lot of lookers and not sales. That is were google analytic can help. Kepp the traffic amount in front of them....then it falls on them to sell. If you don't think they are being honest about total sales...with google analytics you can track conversions....just add the url of final page.After that...well get more customers.
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  • This is a tough situation for sure. I would cut them loose as well. You delivered on first page rankings and unless you promised them leads, you have no obligation to continue working for them.

    When I was doing more offline, I never promised leads, I promised first page. And if I wasn't able to deliver, I promised free work until I did get first page. I never wanted to be in the 'increasing conversions' game. Far too much hassle. I like to offer services with clear deliverables and not something that needs to be tweaked and studied all the time If I'm going to do that, I'll do my own CPA or something.
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    Thanks for all the advice.

    I told them from the get go any traffic the site got from the SEO efforts would be running it into a brick wall.

    But, they insisted "the site isn't that bad" so I said that's fine, I'll get you guys on the front page and that's all I can really do.

    Anyways, I've transferred the site to their old host where they're paying too much for a really bad looking website and we've parted ways.

    I've had more good experiences then bad ones with this business model, but as usual, the bad ones are the ones that have the most impact on you it seems.

    I found this on somebodies site just today...

    DISCLAIMER:

    KNOW THIS UP FRONT...

    Being on the first page of Google is NOT a guarantee that your phone will ring and sales will shoot through the roof. If you are not competitively priced or have a better mouse trap than your competition -- or worse yet, there is no demand -- you don’t stand a chance regardless of where you are on the web.

    Our money back guarantee does not ensure increased traffic, sales, leads or calls. We can put you in front of potential customers, but we cannot make them want what you provide.

    Thanks again for the advice guys, I hope this is a big wake up to anybody looking to jump into this biz model!
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  • Profile picture of the author HypeText
    Originally Posted by wilder1047 View Post

    So, I got a client under semi odd terms, the person wanted to be a rep, was/is working for a kitchen company, referred them and then did nothing else (but micro-manage and offer input on stuff he had no knowledge about)

    My problem was the owner is functionally illiterate and can't read e-mails or understand anything, so he pretty much appointed this guy in charge of it since he recommended it to him.

    So, they've been paying me $399 a month for SEO, since December 1st. Around February they hadn't seen any leads or calls coming in, which I informed them their site wasn't converting because the site was in top 5 for all keywords we were targeting and it was getting traffic from the right keywords (10-15 hits a day, I know it's not a ton, but we're looking at ZERO calls a month). They they informed me that they would only continue with my services until March, if they hadn't seen results (sales/leads) then they were going to stop it. Which I said no problem at all, there is NO contract or written agreement at all in this.

    So, I found a guy on here who was offering free web design to the first 5 people that replied to his post, and I made the cut.

    I knew these guys needed help and weren't willing to pay anymore money so I took that free website offer and gave it to them, hoping to put in a web site that would actually convert the traffic, but, the deal I made was they would have to stick with me until June if I came through on this site.

    They agreed, I had their website transfered to my host so we could load up word press - the host they had had it's own html editor which was very limited.

    So, I transferred it over (in hind sight prematurely) and was waiting for the web design guy (who made a mock-up and was quite responsive for a while) to finish the site to load up, and he eventually just completely bailed out on us. So, I'm stuck with a crappy word press site for these guys.

    I made them a site with the mini-site generator in Main Street Marketing Machines just to get in front of traffic and hopefully convert, I suggested them to make a more enticing offer to get people on the phone, but they told me to stop with the "fluffy" stuff and get people to call them, he insisted they needed more "Google", meaning they need more SEO...

    I told him they were well ranked for their main keywords, and while there is room for improvement, they stopped paying me, so I don't see why I should continue the SEO work.. I told them it's fine, and gave them direct contact to my SEO guys, essentially cutting out my fees and told them to fly at it.

    From this point I'm trying to remove myself from the situation, still telling them I'll take care of their website, but to let me put my offers in place so we can try and convert the damn traffic. They would come to me with complaints like the website is loading too slow; I ran tests on their site and a competitors, load time for their site: 97 milliseconds load time for competitor: 6 seconds.

    He ignored that, and got onto something else, and then something else, and everytime I politely showed him facts that would show he is wrong. I finally said just left me load up your old website and transfer your hosting back to the old company and I'll be on my way, this didn't work.


    THENNNN, he's just responded with, they're going to come after me for a refund because none of this worked??

    Now, since I'm a marketer, and not a business man, I really have no clue if they actually have anything against me here, literally no contracts were involved and I never guaranteed any sort of results.

    Any advice please, thanks!
    Its always a good idea to have some sort of a written agreement...

    HOWEVER...

    There is a legal Term called "Buyer Beware" and as long as you didnt make false promises or guarantee leads there isnt going to be a whole lot that they can do.

    If they go after you in small claims, they usually cannot go after damages and just for what they paid, and maybe legal fees...if the judge is in a mood, but even so...

    I fail to see the logic or financial sense in that company going after you. there isnt even enough money involved to make it worth it.

    I wouldnt be surprised if they were just blowing smoke.
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