If you own your own business/company than every once in a while there is this one client or customer (because there is a difference) that pushes you to this point of pure unadulterated anger. This person takes you out your normal temperament and places you in this unfamiliar (yet very familiar to some) territory of rage and savagery. I have had one client to ever take me to the dark side and it wasn’t pretty at all.
Starting from the beginning is boring yet very necessary to understand how things got to the way they did. It will serve as the foundation of my true anger and help you to understand why it would have been understandable to put my hand on this human being. This client was a referral that came with a warning. “DFitz I’m referring this person to you but they’re everywhere so be prepared”. At this time in my business things were finally starting to pick up and I was accepting all the business I could get. I had just got married and was very responsible to for helping to pay bills. There was no turning down any new clients difficult or not.
After the first conversation I knew deep down that I needed to walk away…but didn’t. This person was one of those people that ask the price and then say “well what if I don’t get this but get this… then what will the price be”. I quickly dismiss people like that now but at this time I tolerated it.
In our second conversation the client divulged some information about their silent struggles and that they were just trying to get their business off the ground the right way and didn’t want to cut corners. However, their budget didn’t quite cover everything they needed in order to fully operate business. They explained they were in a sink or swim situation and they’d take help from where ever they could get it. So yeah, this pulled at my heart strings and I discounted the service.
Throughout the duration of this working relationship I continued to discount some services from time to time and even did some stuff for free. I really wanted to help this client succeed and get out the trenches. Meanwhile, my business started thriving. It was years later and I had plenty business and really didn’t have time for this nickel and diming relationship anymore. Yet, I didn’t want to seem like I was “hollywood” and thought I was too good to take their business. So I endured.
I slowly realized that this client hadn’t grown at all since the first project. Same conversations “what if I do this… then how much will it be”. It was pure torture to even answer the phone anymore. But I did. Everything came to a head one evening. They were trying to get their website back active (insert eyeroll because this was the forth time they’d let it go down) and this person asked me if I could make a minor change. The change would have taken 2 minutes for me to do (address change) so I was like yeah no problem. Then I get another request to change the banner. I told them there is usually a fee associated with it, but I understand what you are trying to do so I’ll design the banner. To make a long story short, the minor change went from minor to major design request THAT THEY DIDN’T PAY FOR!!!!
At this point I am fuming because now I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I kept telling myself this was the last time and I wasn’t doing anything for them again. I completely lost it when this person started complaining about the FREE work I did. They wanted several changes and I informed them I couldn’t keep making these changes for free. When I did that they lost it. They started calling me a hustler, said I was doing bad business, accused me sabotaging their project and other hurtful things.
I tried to keep my cool and reiterate that they were getting upset over something they didn’t pay for and then proceeded to tell me “all the business I bought to you over the years and this is how you treat me?” I absolutely lost my mind after that. This person hadn’t spent half of what a real invoice for what the services would be and they were accusing me of hustling them? Seriously? All the discounts and free work and this is my thank you?
I gave that client a piece of my mind and everything in me wanted to pay them a visit and explain my feelings in another manner. I was shaking, I was crying, I was yelling. I couldn’t keep my composer, but I know deep down that I had more to lose than they did. I had a thriving business full of clients who didn’t want or expect a discount for anything. “Let that bih gooooo”! And I did!
Later, I received emails with apologies but I ignored them. I didn’t do any kind of business with this person again. I was completely over it and was ready to finally move on. The moral of the story isn’t “don’t give discounts”, just be more mindful of who you give them too. Don’t do business with people who are looking for discounted services fresh off the back. Go with your gut. I knew upon our first conversation something wasn’t right, but I went along anyway. It ended poorly.
I thank God for that situation though. It help me to see the signs. I use that experience as a gauge when working with other people. If I see some of the same habits, I walk away immediately. I made it a rule that I have to like who I do business with. It helps me to continue to love what I do and who I do it for.