As folks related in the web industry, we’re no strangers to the pain and frustrations that this job brings.
When I first started getting into building websites, one of the biggest pains in the arse that I faced was getting content from clients. This would make projects drag on and on until it got to the point where I didn’t even want to work on it anymore.
The same would go for approvals.
“Hey client, the design is done, can you please look it over.”
…3 weeks later…
Client: “My team of 20 is still making changes. Can we hop on a conference call?”
All of these things end up taking forever just to get a project done.
The fact is, when you lose control of clients, you start to lose motivation and interest in the projects you’re working on.
Here are a few tips to start grasping control of your clients and managing them better, so you can start collecting that Mula!
Make Sure There’s One Point of Contact
The line above mentioning a team of 20 is no lie. In fact, when I was getting into this, I had a few clients that would take a design, and then have a round table with the look.
Then they would get back to me with a ton of mixed suggestions, contradictions, and nothing would get resolved. This lesson was learned pretty fast.
Determine who the final decision maker is before moving forward with a project. You don’t want too many chefs in the kitchen, especially when it comes to design.
Design is 100% subjective. What’s beautiful to you, is not nice to someone else. The key in design is making sure the sites are functional and work in a way to get business, not whether something is green or blue.Design is 100% subjective. What's beautiful to you, is not nice to someone else.Click To Tweet
The decision maker can take suggestions and run them by you, but work with them to come to an actual decision in what is going to get done and not speculate over every little detail.
Create A Timeline
It’s very easy for a project to lose control and end up taking six months or more. This is a horrible way to run your business. Unless you’re charging a small fortune for the project, you need to wrap these things up.
We give about a 4 – 6 week timeline for full design and dev jobs depending on the complexity.
You can create your timelines based on what you do and how fast you can deliver, but it could look something like this.
- Start Date – x
- Design Delivery – 1 week after x (You can replace these with actual dates)
- Then continue with development, testing, and launch in a similar fashion.
Now the key here is to instill some type of penalty or clause in your contract to make sure the client sticks to the date. You can charge $x amount for every day over the schedule, or you can say something like, “if this project isn’t approved by the deliverable dates, it no longer becomes a priority,” or something like that.
Anything you need to do to make sure the client sticks to the given dates provided. This will help keep your project organized, and you will be much clearer on your budgets and what you need to deliver and when.
Sometimes I like to say, be the boss. Truthfully, you ARE the boss. It’s your company, your rules, so you say what goes.
The authority and confidence that you have in yourself need to reflect that in your business and your projects.
Don’t second guess the things you know you should be doing. If you feel strongly about something, voice it to your client.
Remember that you’re the professional here and you have your customers best interest at heart. You would never go into an auto shop and start telling the mechanic how to fix your car right? Same with a website.You would never go into an auto shop and start telling the mechanic how to fix your car right? Same with a website.Click To Tweet
Take control of what you know should be on the website and run the project the same way. Sometimes you’ll get resistance, but that’s normal. In that case, what I usually do is say something like:
“I highly recommend you don’t do that, but if it’s something you truly want, we can do it for you, but it’s not something I agree with.”
Most of the time, they’ll follow your lead, because good clients trust who they hired to do the job for them.
Be Cordial and Honest
The key here is to realize that you’re clients aren’t just dust in the wind. You’re not selling a product here; you’re building a service and building your brand. With your clients, you’re building a relationship. You need to remember that with every interaction.
It’s like dating. Don’t turn off your date, the goal here is to get married! 😀It's like dating. Don't turn off your date, the goal here is to get married! 😀Click To Tweet
Take everything your client says lightly (unless they’re being a total jerk) but remember that they’re not the web professionals. It’s easy for us to take for granted all the things that we know.
Take your time, explain what they don’t understand, answer any questions they may have, and do it because you genuinely want to help them. When you’re both on the same page, it benefits both parties.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
Sometimes, you just need to stand your ground. I’ve been involved in cases where the client just want’s something absurd.
“Make that header light green with yellow text.”
And then if they are pushy about it, push them into understanding why you don’t want that to happen. Sometimes I’ll tell them something like, “OK, but if we do that, I’m not going to be able to put this on my portfolio.” While it may work, some clients are super stubborn, and those are the ones that end up giving you a lot of problems, mainly because they do NOT see you as the professional in the situation.
You may have to fire them. Don’t be weary if you do. On many occasions, it’s a load of stress off your plate if you just remove a client from your workload.Sometimes, clients just need to be fired.Click To Tweet
I had a customer earlier this year, the biggest one I ever had! We had a $20k contract to build out some sites for them. In the end, though, it didn’t work out. They weren’t clear on expectations, and without getting into too many details, I felt like my company was put in a position to fail. What’s funny is since I use Genesis, Beaver Builder, and Views, the client yelled at me saying I didn’t know WordPress!
So, I kept it cordial, and we parted ways. Money wise, it sucked, but I never want to work with anyone who doesn’t respect what I do, and you should either.
Do you have any tips on managing clients? I’d love to hear some, share in the comments!