Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Stop Being Taken Advantage of by Demanding Clients

Into every creative's life a demanding client will fall.  Many creatives have a hard time drawing a line in the sand when it comes to working with demanding clients, which is why your fee and business should be structured in such a way that you anticipate every client will eventually become a demanding client.  The more you anticipate and practice responding to requests outside of your agreement, the easier it becomes.

The demanding client lifecycle generally looks something like this:
1. Client negotiates with Creative for reduced rate
2. Creative agrees based on something Creative thinks they'll gain from working with Client
3. While Creative is engaged in work, Client makes little requests here and there
4. Creative agrees to little requests, because they are at first easy to accommodate
5. Client turns little requests into big demands on Creative
6. Creative feels stuck because they have previously honored little requests without additional fees, and haven't implemented a structure for being compensated for additional requests
7. Client gets frustrated and more demanding that Creative is becoming less responsive
8. Creative gets frustrated that Client is becoming more demanding
9. Client thinks Creative is a flake and unprofessional
10. Creative thinks Client is evil and inconsiderate

If you take steps early enough in the process, a client may never reach the point of being considered a demanding client.

Here are the solutions to avoid clients becoming demanding at every step of the process:

- Don't agree to work for any less than full rate. It is far better to charge full rate, and have the opportunity to do a tricky job over again, than to work for a reduced rate with a client who expects full rate service.

- Have a written agreement for exactly what is delivered and how it is delivered.  This needs to make it blatantly clear to the client what is being delivered in what time frame and how many revisions will be allowed on work.

- Prepare client expectations that additional requests have a working fee attached.  By anticipating that the client WILL make requests above and beyond the work you have contracted for, you can be prepared by offering either an hourly rate for additional requests, or a revision rate.

- Notify client immediately when their requests fall outside of original agreement.  As SOON as a client makes a request that falls outside of your agreement, the client needs to know and be presented with options for moving forward.

At any point in the process, I suggest using this wording with a client to address additional requests:
 "This request will require additional time and expense that weren't planned into the original quote.  I've included an invoice to cover the time and expense to honor this request.  If you'd like to add any additional requests at this time, please let me know so that I can be even more efficient in addressing additional requests."

Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over a decade of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.