How to deal with clients from Hell | Elizabeth Rissman | Skillshare

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How to deal with clients from Hell

teacher avatar Elizabeth Rissman, IDEAS. ACTION. DONE.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:57
    • 2. Why clients from Hell are an issue

      2:17
    • 3. How to identify a client from Hell

      4:33
    • 4. How to warn a client from Hell

      3:33
    • 5. How to break up with a client from Hell

      2:37
    • 6. How to avoid a client from Hell

      5:02
    • 7. Conclusion

      1:27
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About This Class

Let's face it... most clients are great. But others are literally living nightmares. 

You know what I'm talking about. 

Whether it's demanding that you drop everything to tend to their needs, paying you late or not at all, shutting down proposed solutions at every turn, there's a wide range of bad client behavior that can get your blood boiling.

WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR

If you've ever struggled with what to say with a client who's gone off the rails, this class is for you.

I'm going to show you how to manage clients from hell and keep your sanity.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

By the end of this class, find the language to politely yet firmly sashay away from clients who are bad news to make room for clients who pay more and complain less.

  • Why clients from hell are expensive both financially and psychologically
  • How to identify a client from hell (I'll give you a formula AND a checklist)
  • How to break up with a client from hell (I'll give you a script)
  • How to avoid clients from hell altogether
  • Why your time and work are too valuable to waste

ANY QUESTIONS?

Any questions, just ask, always happy to help in any way I can!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Elizabeth Rissman

IDEAS. ACTION. DONE.

Teacher

Hello, I'm Elizabeth! I'm a digital strategist and creative project manager living in Orlando, Florida. (Yes, people actually live here, though vacationing here is pretty cool, too.)

My life reads like the story of many entrepreneurs - I've held a variety of jobs that simultaneously qualify me to do nothing and everything. I've worked on New York Times' Best Seller campaigns, I've created and managed websites with over 60,000 users per day,  and I've helped clients systematize their sales and marketing.

If you could know one thing about me, it’s this: I like pressing the “go” button. A lot. I couple swift ideation with rapid execution. 

Whether it’s a website, online content, or digital products, I thrive on the creative collab... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hey there, everybody. My name is Elizabeth Rissman, and today I'm gonna show you how to deal with a client from hell. Here's what we're gonna learn together. My clients from hell are expensive both financially and psychologically. How to identify a client from hell. I'll give you formula how to break up with a client from hell. I'll give you a script, how to avoid client from hell altogether and why your time and your talent are too valuable to waste. If you've ever struggled with what to say to a client who's gone off the rails, this classes for you, I'm gonna show you how to manage clients from hell and keep your sanity. By the end of this class, you'll find the language to politely yet firmly sachet away from clients who are bad news to make room for clients who pay more and complain less before we get started A little bit about me, I'm a digital strategist and creative project manager living in Orlando, Florida One thing that you should know about me is that I like hitting the go button a lot . I've helped dozens of small businesses identify low hanging fruit to quickly increase their bottom line through digital marketing. I also love creating online courses like the one you see today. I've had the opportunity to work with incredible clients over the years, especially since starting my own business. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is how to determine who you let into your world and who you keep out those air lessons I want to share with you today. As we go through this class together, I encourage you to follow my profile, write reviews about this class and post your projects in the project gallery so we can see your progress ready to rock and roll. Of course you are. Let's get started. 2. Why clients from Hell are an issue: part one. Why clients from hell are an issue you probably already know in your gut why clients from hell are a problem. But let's really articulate the issue when it comes down to it. Clients from hell are expensive and cause undue amounts of stress. Time is money, and clients from hell are more expensive because they take up an ordinance. Amounts of time e mails, meetings, text, phone calls, etcetera. Managing a problematic client requires more hours more back and forth and more baby sitting . If you quote your project budget as a flat feet, you are in real jeopardy of diminishing your hourly rate. In addition, problem clients are more likely to dispute and voice pay late or not. Pay it all. Most often. They'll try to nickel and dime you at every turn. Simply put, problem clients are stressful. They take up a lot of what I like to refer to as quote brain space. Thes clients have a tendency to follow us home and make us less engaged and present with loved ones. We may feel grumpier withdrawn. We may self medicate by drinking more or emotionally eating to cope with the stress. Furthermore, problem clients tend to disrupt workflow, either by circumventing procedures are demanding that you drop everything to tend to their needs, even in non emergency situations. Also, clients from hell can be outright pushy bullies. They tend to cross boundaries often and discard professional norms. In the worst cases, they suggest initiatives that conflict with your personal integrity or feel counterintuitive. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, Could my time be better spent elsewhere? Each bad client is an opportunity cost to work with someone who will respect you and pay you as much or more. Okay, so my clients probably a living nightmare. What's next? You'll need to weigh the financial and emotional costs. This will follow a three step process. Evaluate weighing the pros and cons worn, bringing bad behavior to their attention and break up, which is when you firmly but politely tell them it's time to move on. 3. How to identify a client from Hell: part two. How to identify a client from hell. Have you ever made fresh squeezed orange juice? That stuff is delicious. Being from Florida or in shoes pretty much runs through my veins. So I've had my fair share. However, have you have a maid orange juice? It's super labor intensive. Crushing several oranges usually only yields a little juice. After squeezing a couple oranges by hand, you wonder if it's worth it or if he should just go down to the store and pick up a carton of Tropicana instead, you'd still get the same result without investing all the time in labor. I always like to tell my clients. Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze, meaning At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, Is it all worth it? Much like making orange juice from scratch is a time and effort worth the money you're making and the satisfaction you feel. If you're feeling unsatisfied or like you may be taking advantage of financially, it's time to see if the juice is worth the squeeze. Which brings us to our class project. Should I break up with my client? How to determine the financial and psychological costs before you have a tough conversation . First, let's follow the money by calculating client R A Y. There is a tangible financial cost associated with this. You wanna grab worksheet one from the resource is section under the your project tab so you can do the math for yourself. How much does this client pay you per month? How many hours do you spend on this client per month? So that's including calls, texts, emails, worrying disruption any moment of your day, where you're thinking about this client when they're taking up your brain space. If you're not tracking these things, you really need Teoh. But for now, estimate. Divide the monthly income from this client that this client generates by the number of hours you spend per month on this client. This will give you the true hourly rate. So that's income over time gives you the true hourly rate for this client at the client. True hourly rate is below your standard hourly rate. You need to think about if this client, if the juice is worth the squeeze for this client. If the client has problematic behavior in addition to paying you below your hourly rate, then it's probably time to re evaluate the relationship. Next, we're going to calculate the intangible costs or a psychological cost of having a client from hell. Go ahead and grab worksheet to From the resource is under your project tab so you can check off any bad behavior that sounds familiar. Go ahead and check any that apply. Does this client align with your business goals? Does this client have a clear vision of their business goals? Does this client have trouble providing clear instructions? Has his client ever disputed an invoice? Does the client consistently pay you late or not at all? Is this client just plain obstructionist? Meaning. Do they often dismiss your suggestions? Has his client ever been disrespectful to you? Meaning intimidation, condescension or foul language? Does this client disrupt workflow meaning? Do they harass you outside of work hours, demanding that you drop everything you're doing to attend to their needs? Now, does this client follow you home? They take up your brain space after work or make you grumpy or withdrawn from loved ones. Has his client failed to refer additional work to you? And now finally, gut check do you feel like this client has integrity that aligns with your values. Go ahead and add up your check marks. Also bring over the true hourly rate number we generated from worksheet one. If you have more than three check marks and your true hourly rate is less than your standard hourly rate, it's time to fire your client. If you have less than three check marks and your true hourly rate is less than your standard hourly rate, it's time to warn your client if you have less than three check marks and your true hourly rate is more than your standard hourly rate than congratulations, you have a great client if you have more than three check marks and your true hourly rate is more than your standard hourly rate, you may be getting paid to deal with this, but in the end isn't worth it. And that's something that you're gonna have to think about 4. How to warn a client from Hell: part three. How to warn a client from Hell. Once you realize there's a problem, your self worth will plummet. If you don't address it, you'll feel taken advantage of, and that's a horrible way to feel. So how do you bring this up with the client? If it seems awkward and precarious, it's because it is. This could be very intimidating. However, This is also an opportunity to strengthen your relationship in the long run. By addressing a problem, you are avoiding building up resentment over time towards each other by being a little bit vulnerable and showing an authentic side of yourself. You may actually strengthen your relationship. You'll feel so much relieved by bringing it up. They may be oblivious that there's even a problem. You'll feel better once there's honest and open communication. However, there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to have this conversation. You want to show strength, but you want. You don't want to put the entire relationship in jeopardy. You have to walk a tight rope of being strong enough to stand up to them, but polite enough to keep the relationship be strong enough to reset expectations. But soft enough to show that you value the relationship, be earnest and let them know that you appreciate them and the work you do together. Here's a couple of key freezes that I like to use. Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed some issues in our working relationship. This behavior needs to change in order for us to have a productive relationship. If this behavior continues, I will have to reevaluate future projects. Be prepared to site specific examples. This is your opportunity to really get it all out there. Here's another couple of ways you can bring up bad behavior in a respectful way. You hired me for my expertise. Yet you seem to disagree with or second guess me suggestions at every step of the way, making it difficult to complete tasks. Perhaps another professional would be better suited for your vision. I have processes in place to maintain a study, constant workflow and your communication needs to respect those processes. The scope of the project is outlined in the agreement we signed. Yet many of the recent requests are outside the agreed upon scope you always want to refer to the scope of the soap is creeping, But you also want to reiterate that you value the relationship. You have to be a velvet hammer, be strong, but with a softness. Here's a couple of phrases I like to use. I hope we can resolve this. I'm committed to the organization name family, and I would like to continue to work together. I'm bringing this up because I enjoy the work we dio and I would like to continue working together. I am invested in the work we have done together, and I and I think with the right process is in place. Weaken do work that is meaningful and productive. At the end of the day, the best apology is changed behavior. If your client is really serious about wanting to continue to work with you, then they will change their behavior. Actions speak louder than words. Lastly, beware of Nice. Some clients are nice, but they continually do the thing that you told him not to do. You're probably getting played. You're still chasing after them, reminding them again and again what's do what's expected, etcetera. This is a manipulation, and you may want to rethink your relationship, especially if the money isn't adding up 5. How to break up with a client from Hell: part for how to break up with a client from hell. So if you've worn the client and the client has not changed their behavior, it may be time to part ways with that client. It's time to Marie Condo. Does this client spark joy? No, it does not. If you continue to observe unacceptable behavior, it may be time to politely yet firmly tell them that you'll be moving on. Here's how to freeze it. A couple of weeks ago, I reached out because I was concerned about several issues in our working relationship. After much thought and deliberation, I think that another professional may be better suited for your needs. The client may ask you to elaborate. Be prepared to do so. Remind them of the issues you spoke about a couple of weeks ago. As you recall, I brought several issues to your attention a couple of weeks ago, such as, and if all else fails, you can always say we have already committed to other projects for the month of X or next quarter, that arm or aligned with our company vision. It's a softer way of saying it's not you, it's me. It's a gentler less specific let down. Now it's really important that you give them an exit strategy. Life has a funny way of coming back around, and you may find yourself working with these people again. You want people to remember you as fair and courteous, tidy up your loosened so that you're not leaving them hanging. Make it so another company could easily pick up where you left off with list of processes, list of websites or programs used and credentials for those websites of programs. Here's a script for the exit strategy. As of date, my company won't be able to assist you with what you do any further. Here is what you can expect from us between now and date, then lists out various milestones you're working on and how you will bring them to a close or at least an intelligence stopping point. Also, I'm are always offer to speak with them by phone as well, so that you can talk things out. I'm in favor of establishing a paper trail, but sometimes things get lost over email, following up with a phone call or a least offering Teoh. Make sure you done. You can leave the relationship professionally and gracefully. I also recommend doing this during the warning stage as well 6. How to avoid a client from Hell: part five. Learning from past mistakes had to avoid problem clients altogether. So so far we've learned how to deal with a client from hell. But the best way to deal with them is to never get involved in the first place. I've developed some red flags. That act is warning signs that a potential client, maybe a client from hell, because sometimes bad clients sneak up on you. But other times you can see these nightmare dumpster fires coming from a mile away. Here's how to watch your back. Red flag number one difficult contract and compensation process. There is a difference between negotiation and being difficult. If you've gone through several rounds of agreements and you're getting nowhere, it may be time to pass. Another line to watch out for is, we'll stop your role, start you off X compensation, but will increase it after a month or some amount of time. Don't do it. It's a trap. Once they get you for less, they'll never want to pay you more. Relying on them to keep their word is a leap of faith. You do not want to take red Flag number two expecting you to do work on spec. Sometimes clients will ask you to mock something up without signing a contract. For instance, they'll say, Mock up these three logos and we'll see if we like one. Say it with me. Just say, Know your time is way too valuable for this. They basically want free work from you and you're not getting paid on contingencies. You're getting paid for your time. Red flag number three inflexibility with communication styles or availability. I don't do email. I'm not available for a weekly checking call. He should be red flags. Creative projects are collaborative in nature, and if they're not available for basic communication and regular check ins, your project is gonna stall. More importantly, you may never get paid red flag number four, high turnover of staff or contractors before you If they've already left a path of destruction with past Freelander freelancers or employees, or if they have a new contact person every week there probably a client from hell. Red Flag number five. Their communication style feels pushy, overbearing or just makes you uncomfortable. You ever get an email? You're just like, whoa, this person is way too intense. Listen to that little voice inside. Some people think they can intimidate you into doing work for them. And that's just not the way you want to work. Stand up to their bullying red flag Number six. Their company values don't align with yours. Sometimes people are just downright shady. If they're asking you to do something that doesn't feel right, and there's a lot of people in the Internet who do this, stay clear of this person. Red Flag number seven. They dismiss customer feedback if they dismiss customer feedback. The people who are paying them, they're definitely going to dismiss your feet back. They don't get it, and you should move on. Red Flag number eight. Are they a time res? Do they take up your time with a lot of back and forth? Do they need a lot of baby sitting and hand holding? If yes, they could be second your time or what I like to call a time race. Sometimes these people don't mean any harm, but there taking up space, you could be using more productively. Tell them you're gonna pass. So if your client is raising some red flags, you have a choice to make. I bring it back to the phrase. Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. You have to decide to pass or take them on. If you do decide to take them on, then I suggest quoting them higher than your standard hourly rate. Yes, they'll still be a pain in the neck, but at least you'll be getting paid to deal with them. Make expectations crystal clear from the start. Drafted very specific scope of work and how much additional work will be built. Put it in the initial agreement. This is a part of the process where you have the most leverage. Make your intentions clear. Once you agree to the scope, you're pretty much locked in now. Here's why. Your time and talent are too valuable to waste. Life is short. When you look back in 5 10 20 years, will you be proud of the projects you took on? Or will you cringe thinking how you were pushed around or led astray on projects that were neither meaningful nor profitable? This is how I look at it when you work in a creative industry. So much of who you are is intertwined with your work product. Bad clients during you of time, enthusiasm and creativity. And those are things you just can't afford to waste. When you work with a client who is a constant source of stress, your work product inevitably suffers because it becomes a chore or obligation instead of an exciting collaboration. We have a finite time on this Earth. The work we dio needs to fulfil us because it is time away from our family, friends and hobbies. You need work that's gonna fill you up when you do work that you feel passionate about, you put all of yourself into it, which in the end creates a better work product. When you work with someone who doesn't respect your boundaries, it's really easy to phone it in, and we aren't here to phone it in. We're here to make moves. 7. Conclusion: Congratulations. You did it. I am so proud of you. You are soaring like a monster truck from outer space. To recap you learn by clients from hell are expensive both financially and psychologically . Had to identify client from how how to break up with a client from hell, how to avoid plants from hell all together and why your time and talent are too valuable to waste. If you enjoyed this class, I have a lot more in the pipeline. So make sure to follow me. I have another class on here called How to make a totally boss linked in profile. It will help you attract clients he really want, because once it kicked, all those back lines occur. You're going to want to make room for some really exciting ones. It's a great time to get a jump on your brand. And, of course, if you'd like to reach out to me personally, here's a couple of ways to do that, too. I really hope you enjoy this class, and I hope to speak with you. So that's it for me. In the meantime, don't let the client some help get you down. I'll see you next time