Over the past weekend I just thought of something that I have to do in the future. I have to make sure clients do not arrange status meetings on projects for Mondays anymore !! This is because it ruins my weekend before it and adds too much stress to my marriage.
I admit openly that I am a big believer in “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” methodology of consulting. If a client’s hair is on fire they get my attention and urgent response. I am also a major procrastinator and tend to do my best work when there is a deadline staring me down (which I don’t think is totally untypical I’m afraid).
I have recently run into several clients who insist on meetings on Mondays and they don’t realize that in doing that they have just ruined another weekend for me. I have just spent this whole past weekend working on stuff for a meeting this afternoon. Then I’m going to take some time with my Grandkids that I should have given them on Sunday.
So rather than becoming more disciplined and better organized I am just going to change the scheduling of meetings for mid to late week in the future. So clients be warned – my Mondays and Tuesdays are now all officially “booked” 😉 ahead (unless of course your hair is really on fire).
That’s a pretty accurate description of my own work habits, unfortunately.
What bugs me is sometimes the “Nice” clients get neglected because they don’t bug me enough …
I have to work hard to remember who my truly “Best” clients really are (and it’s not necessarily the biggest payers). I have to reach out and give them the attention they deserve. Occasionally I slip up and I feel really bad when that happens.
It’s not hard to remember which are the “nice” clients. They’re the ones I can think of without my stomach tightening up. They’re the ones who don’t nickel and dime me, and string me out for months.
There really aren’t many “bad” clients, but it only takes one to mess up half a year’s working situation.
I find it’s not hard to tell the undesirable clients that I’m too busy for their follow-up. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help with the problem of neglecting the good ones while getting rid of the bad ones.
Funny story time !!
I was going from L.A. to Seattle and ran into one of the big Access book writers at the gate. I asked him what he was up to – doing any consulting? His answer was “No – can’t stand the f***** clients. Just writing.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have achieved that level of peace ?
The old “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” line really comes into play when talking about clients, eh?
Or, in the words of Stephen Wright (about women, but still), “Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.”
I am in bad client hell at the moment. Although I did manage to finally squeeze a cheque out of one of them, almost a year after invoice! and a (paper) cheque FFS – its 2009!
If I wanted a bank transfer I had to submit via their miserable on-line e-payment portal. And get this:
YOU HAVE TO PAY TO SUBMIT INVOICES!
In the end I had to post a paper copy to the other side of the world so they could sit on it for a few months and then send me a cheque.
But they only paid because I refused to do an urgent update for them.
One client put off paying until I finally refused to do any more work. He complained that I was blackmailing him.
In the heat of Y2K one client (IT of the largest Brewery in Canada) got up to owing me $130,000 for work by myself and two employees. My wife kept calling their AP department until finally my direct client’s boss threatened me that if my wife called anymore I wouldn’t get anymore business. Then finally my client got one of MY employees to process the invoices for him and then he paid me !! When I mentioned that perhaps that wasn’t a good idea he went “Oops – I never thought of that.” A month later my guy quit on a Friday and started work for the same Brewery on Monday. When I protested their answer was “If you make a noise about it then we won’t use you anymore. Sue us.”
The interesting thing was I had worked with these two guys for over 10 years and considered them friends. They didn’t seem to think that this would affect our friendship – strange sense of ethics and morality.
I’ve found that the big clients are least sensitive to the small supplier, though I’ve never been treated quite like that by a large client. It’s just that you’re usually stuck in the system, and you have to wait for the wwheels to turn.
Most small companies, particularly other one-man operations, are very good about keeping up to date.
I usually have a kill switch in the first project or deliverable to a client, and I tell them about the time limit; this is deactivated when I get my first payment. Only on rare occasions have I felt the need to include this in any subsequent deliverables.
“Most small companies, particularly other one-man operations, are very good about keeping up to date.”
Mostly because they live our world. Corporate people who get a paycheck every two weeks don’t feel or understand the pain of Receivables 🙂 …