Posted on Jun 14, 2011 0
How did we not see the signs?
We've been doing this job for over two decades now. You lower your guard for what seems like a split second and in it came; the dreaded suck-the-life-out-of-everything client.
Every designer knows this adversary... rash-like negativity, time-sucking sensibilities, "thrifty" disposition... the absolute epitome of despair. Perhaps the greatest issue at hand is how we actually managed to miss the signs.
1. First Contact
Client makes contact through a Google search, emails are exchanged, information requested... all good. Project turns out to be website redesign; all info is available online or through email, but client insists on meeting in person and insists on their office. Not a big warning... we're going to be kind and only give us a little warning here:
2. Initial Meeting
Check the route to the meeting. It turns out that the location is somewhere just a tad north of Middle Earth.
Arrive and find the "office" is cleverly disguised as some dude's condo.
Condo-office is not office at all, but a true dude pad complete with three extremely dour dudes in there. Tension is tight and all the usual ice-breaking jokes go cold. We're now a cheap six-pack away from a bad night out with the boys.
Offered seat on a blue "pleather" couch. Three dudes take their place in dining chairs directly across. Squishy couch sucks me down far below normal sitting level, feel much like Sid Dithers, but way lower.
Client's business turns out to be manufacturer of kid related products. Dour dudes look way out of place... David Suzuki selling Hummers would be a more natural fit.
Mid-way through meeting, client produces site mock-ups that were done by another company. "Why weren't these used?"... "things didn't work out", they say.
Meeting goes past 1.5 hours... "president" offers up words like "hmmm" and "mmmm", followed by excessive chin scratching.
3. Project Process
Estimate is approved. Deposit request is made. After 3 weeks, requested deposit for 50% of the project doesn't show up. Order closed.
Requested deposit shows up 2 weeks after project is closed.
Proofs go out. Phone calls come in to describe requested changes. Suggest email, but client no like email. Client uses phrases like "we want these changes made, but don't feel we should have to pay for them."
4. The End
Proof limit was intended to be 3 rounds, but we go 12. After this many rounds feel like Apollo Creed, but with way better acting lessons.
Hours go WAY over estimate. We eat 20+ hours at next staff get-together. Produce invoice. Client no pay.
Three strikes. Blog post. Cleanse out icky feeling and fall back into bliss with normal clients.
Related post: "Loving Your Clients"