You know the feeling. Your company has been dwindling in the cash-flow area, then out of spontaneous-combustion, a large client plops down in your lap and wants to do business.
At first, the business relationship starts off promising as the checks flow in.
Then as time progresses, their expectations rise, manipulation begins, condescending emails are sent, excess calls are made, annoyance is at it's climax, and the decision to dump or keep them as a client sits on the fact that they are still paying you.
This is a crappy fence to sit on.
In the last 6 months of running Flight Media full-time, I have learned a few important things.
Before I began implementing the 'dumptruck' rule, I experienced the highest level of stress, frustration, and lack of desire to be a businessman than I had experienced in my entire life.
From doing fixed rate jobs and being run to the end of the earth with revisions (web design,) to experiencing way too many outside work phone calls, emails, and client manipulation.
It had to stop.
My time with my wife was slim and my hourly income grew smaller with every email, phone call, and additional (non-paid) time spent revising client's projects.
Overall, the business was struggling and that's when it hit me: No level of stress or frustration is worth any financial gain.
From then on, I decided to dump any clients that fell under the following categories.
1. If they lie. This is the largest 'red flag' out of them all. Any lie, on any scale, screams "pull that dump lever!" If they lie once, they'll do it again. And again. and Again.
2. If they don't pay. We stopped doing fixed rates for web sites and services that are typically fixed. Instead, we give clients a 'looks like' price that gives them a close estimate of what we believe the project will cost.
After that, we send them an 'estimate budget' that has all our hourly rates for every service needed for the project, along with the estimated hours. We then send them weekly progress invoices.
If they don't pay, we don't work.
3. If they are condescending. Typically, the first two are pretty common, however, occasionally someone comes along who thinks they're better than you. They're not. Just because they work for a company that is successful, doesn't mean they can talk down to you.
(It's even worse when someone talks condescendingly who works for a small, not-so-successful business.) Drop em' like there's no tomorrow.
4. If you lose money. You're a business, not a charity. If you lose money and the client refuses to agree to your new prices/compensate you, refer to #2.
5. If it becomes unprofessional. Finally, the occasional jackwagon comes around to doing business with you and begins to act like a teenager, again.
These are typically people who fail to follow #2, often do #1, and create more stress than you can imagine.
Side-note: Just dealt with one of them recently. After doing more than was specified for his website (no contract--fail #1), on a fixed budget (fail #2,) and spending 25+ hours completing the last segment of his website before getting paid (fail #3,) he refused to pay the last 25% payment because he wanted the site revised even more--which would consume another 10-15 hours.
After being reasonable and as understanding as possible, I sent him a nice long message that was very professional, stating that his site was 100% functional and could launch the following day, but I would not be able to work more than agreed.
He unfriended me on Skype. (8th grade all over)
So, I dumped him.
The goal in business is to minimize your input (time spent) and maximize your output (profit.) With clients that fail to use proper ethics or be professional, it's very difficult to reach that level within your business.
And Although the thought of dumping clients often brings a sense of risk, unknown, and insecurity, it will work out. After all, we became entrepreneurs because those things excite us. ;)
My tally is growing.
How many clients have you dumped?