You’ve pitched, you’ve converted that pitch and now you have a contract signed off. In this next section I want to cover a good client relationship, and what to do to avoid one going bad. Let’s start off with those first steps though…
Who is a client?
It sounds like a stupid thing to ask, but who is a client to you? They are not your friend though they may become one. They are not your boss though they might act like it. You are not in business with them, but if they fail, you fail too. I think ultimately client relationships have one key difference. You can dump them as a client, and they can dump you as a provider…and it isn’t a big deal.
Human vs Business
That’s the key thing to remember, although all clients are ultimately human (unless you’re being hired by hyper intelligent goldfish) at the end of the day everything is just business, and where a job usually means spending years with the same people, freelancing can be quite transactional. It’s an overused phrase but you should always treat a client how you’d like to be treated.
Now you’ve got the job, please don’t be your own enemy.Do you remember that attributes that you’ve used to get the job in the first place? Things like good communication, chasing clients up, doing your due diligence. Now that you’ve got the job it doesn’t mean you can go cash your deposit and head down the pub. It sounds such an obvious thing to say, but the quickest way to loose a client is to put a sour taste in their mouth right at the start.
Keep your promises
I needed a web designer to bail a client out of a tight spot. I talked to 4 good people, the person I choose got offered the gig because he talked about responsibility, he talked about how important it was to him that the website did not break and how he could give us his full attention. He gets the job Friday, over the weekend he goes to the mountains, no one can reach him. The client phones him, he’s out at the hospital. Straight away, he has shown he isn’t trustworthy.
Now, he might have had those things planned for months, but that is no excuse. In this situation where perhaps you’ve had something planned for months, I’m not suggesting you start making excuses, but certainly it takes minutes to call a client to tell them “you’re looking into it” or similar.
Starting a job is usually a fast paced and exciting time. Sometimes you can get to work straight away and other times you need to get together a team, more people always leads to more problems so i’ll be covering this next.