As a freelancer, I have witnessed many different relationships that my peers and I have with our clients. Some clients we love, while others we rant endlessly about. Some freelancers badmouth their most difficult clients, while others only sing the praises of their favorites. But, we all know that without clients we would not be able to support our freelance businesses. Therefore, we must learn to work with, manage, communicate with and do our best to keep our clients coming back for more.
Still, it is worthwhile to sometimes step back and take a look at things from a different perspective in order to determine the best ways to proceed and progress. So, I have come up with The (Unofficial) Client Rating Scale to help us all evaluate and categorize our clients from 1 to 5. While hopefully somewhat humorous and irreverent, this scale should still be helpful in identifying your “keeper” clients and those that perhaps your business may be better without. Try rating each of your clients based on the following criteria and see how you fare.
Disclaimer: Any representation of actual clients in existence and/or their behavior is purely coincidental. No clients were harmed during the creation of this rating scale.
1. The Client from Hell
- Wants their project completed before they ever even made first contact with you.
- Professes to have worked with others in your field who charge significantly less.
- Tries to bargain and nitpick at your proposed charges.
- Attempts to rewrite your contract before and during the project.
- Micro-manages every step of the way.
- Calls and emails constantly for updates, even after they’ve already been updated.
- Demands unlimited revisions of mockups/proposals.
- Disregards your experience and professional advice because they “have a better idea”.
- Fails to pay for completed work in a timely manner.
- Rude, impersonal, demanding, disrespectful, selfish and cheap.
2. The Client Who Visits Hell Regularly (Taking You)
- Items 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 from the previous list, yet in less constant production. In other words, this client only drives you crazy three to five times a day rather than 24/7.
- Dangles payment like a carrot on a string while requiring “just a little change” here and there until they have managed to gain as many unpaid extra hours as possible.
- Has a relative or friend who supposedly can do portions of your work to help them save on charges.
- Wants everything done “yesterday,” but takes three days to respond to an email or give written approval throughout the process.
3. The Client with One Foot in Hell & One in Heaven
- Understands that you have other clients and projects, but still wants to be your top priority.
- Values your opinion and input, but has a need for control that sometimes leads to unwise decisions on their part.
- Appreciates the quality of your work, but always needs to make an adjustment (there’s that control thing again).
- Upon completion of the project begins the payment process immediately, but their company policies and red tape delay the check’s arrival for at least two weeks.
- Is verbally encouraging, supportive and complimentary, but their actions sometimes conflict with how much they say they love your work.
4. The Client on the Road to Sainthood
- Accepts your first proposal with minimal dispute or concerns.
- Responds to all communication within 24 hours.
- Understands and respects that you have time off, friends, family and other responsibilities besides their project.
- Regularly asks for and often accepts your recommendations and advice.
- Checks in regularly to see how things are going.
- Appreciates the final product and requires minimal changes.
- Pays in a timely manner.
5. The Dream Angelic Client Saint
- Begs you to work for them whenever you can fit them into your schedule.
- Offers to pay extra for rush projects and gives bonuses upon completion.
- Is enthralled with your suggestions and recommendations. In fact, they begin to ask you for advice in other areas of their life because they think you really have it together.
- Leaves you alone to work uninterrupted and is satisfied with the regular updates whenever you provide them.
- Responds immediately to communications and approves every step of the process without question.
- Regularly takes you to lunch, dinner and drinks for meetings and always pays the tab.
- Marvels at the finished product and is thrilled that it exceeds their wildest expectations.
- Hand-delivers cash payment to you the moment the project is completed, along with a large bonus because they are certain you should have charged them more for such exemplary work.
- Sends numerous other clients your way with the highest possible recommendation and quotes them a higher rate than what you charge because you deserve it.
Share Your Thoughts
Where do your clients fit on this scale? Has it been helpful to you in identifying your best and your worst experiences? Be sure to let us know your thoughts and any stories you may have about your experiences with any of these types of clients.