Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away"
I know, quit stealing everyone else s words, but it is what comes to my mind when I think of what I want to talk about.
Dealing with undesirable clients.
Some start out nice enough, but then down the road they apparently turn to the dark side and you get caught by surprise! I was raised by a "colorful" father that I would say had one foot on each side of the track, so I have seen both sides in my youth. I pretty much decided that I only wanted to operated on one side and that is pretty much where I stayed, but when exposed to the other side I am not naive, nor do I have the deer in the head light look.
Sometimes you get in an undesirable situation and I would say most youthful people would keep following the dangling carrot to try to get out of the situation. As you get older you learn sometimes you just need to cut your losses or you need to stand your ground. Even when standing your ground you may lose, but you don't lose everything and hopefully make the situation as unpleasant and as much a pain in the ass for the other person. I like to think I have standards and morals and that is what keeps me from just walking away. If I walk away I lose, and if I stand my ground I lose, but at lease my conscience knows I tried to do the right thing.
I had an impasse with a client. I had given him five sets of drawing, but after I gave him the drawings is when the impasse raised it's ugly head. I told him not to use my drawings until we had a resolution, but he had taken them downtown and put them in for permitting. Since they were not paid for, I still considered them my drawings and promptly went downtown and took them back. I had sent an email stating what I was going to do, which the client didn't respond to, so I didn't feel obligated to tell him what I had done. It took him about three week to figure it out. I went back to inspections for a totally different project, but decided to see if anything had been done, so I looked in the bin that should have only had the application permit and found two more set of drawings the client had obviously reinserted. So I took those two, wrote a letter to everyone in inspections that I typically dealt with and explained the situation and asked them not to review the sets until I told them is was OK. The client told me I "ruined" his reputation downtown and that my letter had made it all the way to the Mayor's office. I responded I did not "taint" his reputations, but he did by his actions sneaking behind my back and slipping the additional two sets in when he knew I did not approve.
So how does all this apply to what I want to say today.
1) Find good clients
2) Dump bad ones as soon as you can
3) Unless you absolutely need the money (which I have in many cases) walk away.
I held my ground and came to a middle ground agreement with the client. He is not happy. I did not get compensation for what I was asked to do, but I got something. I have to be involved with this client on another project that has other people involved, so I came to some agreement so we would have not a toxic environment on the other project. I am not involved in the other project for the money as much as I am good friends with one other the other people involved and I didn't want to leave them hanging. Otherwise I would cut all ties.
This original situation lasted about two months and I found it to be mentally draining. It zapped to much of my energy and I resent that I had to deal with it. The client is manipulative and wants to renegotiate everything all the time to better his position. I do not want to deal with client like this. I have dealt with about three clients like this in my twenty seven years of being self employed, so I consider myself lucky.
You need to listen to your gut and follow your conscience. My toughest decisions are internal. I can walk away from any client, unless I need the money to support the family. Right is right and wrong is wrong!
I tell friend "I am not intimidated by anyone, scared by some, yes, but intimidated, no!"