Here at Meet 19 we like to promote the idea of paying it forward. We try to offer freebies, in the knowledge that this is quite a common business practice and a great way to get people to see first hand what you do in your business or community enterprise. How can we stop this being counter-productive?
Ultimately it works as astute marketing.
We even did a post recently on the perfect freebie handout. Check it out here. And if you are clear about your business focus it will attract clients who are inspired by your confidence.
However, we do meet those who aren't so sure about giving things away.
There are always those odd people unfortunately in any network community who don't get the concept of long-term business relationships and are purely after quick bargains or are sussing out a revenue stream for themselves by what you reveal to them.
In this excellent article I found from Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad organisation: The 6 Types of Freeloading Clients to Avoid from the writing team behindToxic Client, not only identifies these fascinating stereotypes but also, and more importantly provides the solutions for dealing with them.
As a reference key I've shorthanded the situations and solutions below as 'How and when you can show your boundaries to clients' (and added some more), but it might be an idea to bookmark this link anyway to save you the frustration of feeling you're wasting your valuable time, money and energy with clients who don't know the score.
How and when you can show your boundaries to clients...
1. Are you giving away too much free advice and time?
Set a limit by establishing a contract or payment time to move forward.
When? Before the work starts or when you realise you're compromising your business.
2. Been asked to give sample or speculative work?
Have a portfolio ready to hand in hard copy, mail-ready PDF or on your website.
When? Get it done as soon as possible and make a practice of collecting work examples and testimonials.
3. Is the project quietly doubling up in size from the agreed contract?
Have it stated in your contracts clearly all charges related to time or item:
Include a separate time/item pricing for undisclosed additional work you may discover during the project.
When? Before the work begins preferably, but probably right about the time you've updated your work schedule and projected deadline – after experiencing the preliminary workload (amount) and workflow (efficiency).
4. What if the client won't commit and keeps revising the work or deadline?
This one is about preparation and timing.
Before the job: Have an industry-standard amendment limit whilehighlight your experience and testimonials.
Upon revision request: Send an invoice based on time and work done with a date for payment (4 weeks is the usual limit), then politely agree to the work to be done and subsequent workload and avail them of the remaining time/item price schedule.
5. Are they over-bargaining to get you cheaper?
Explain all your value points and compare them to cheaper options.
Provide examples of other happy clients who paid the going rate and more.
When? All the time, in a polite and friendly way, as part of your ongoing dialogue.
6. The client suddenly having making excuses just after you've sent the invoice.
Stand your ground. Refer to the contract and interest rate upon missed payment.
Ask around and don't hesitate to get legal if the time arises.
When? Keeping personal affairs away from business should be a matter of course for everybody all the time.
7. Is your work being disputed?
Take in a third party associate in the same sector to verify your contract, practices and work done with the client and ask them to have a witness present as well. Keep it friendly and professional.
When? Same day or as soon as possible. Nip it in the bud with an exemplary response to feedback.
8. Can the client not afford you (just yet)?
Give them half an hour or an hour of free consultation and send them a report. Ask them for a testimonial you can use on your website.
When? Before the time they remember you were there for them and they call you again when they're ready to to do real business.
9. Does the client want to control the universe?
Politely, yet firmly remind your client that you would never dare to come in and start doing their business, better still come up with an example of someone else doing it. However, go for the compromise if you feel comfortable doing as requested. Try not to if it goes against industry practice.
When? Ongoing good diplomacy.