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Is it harder when you've seen it coming for so long...?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Jon W, Mar 6, 2013.

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  1. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    Before I even knew XenForo existed and just as I was setting up business, I was introduced to a prospective client. We worked together on a number of little projects and she then remained a client of mine for 18 months. Unfortunately, she saw the inevitable coming in the first few months:
    <content removed as requested>

    If it wasn't for this person, I wouldn't have discovered XenForo... but when someone simply can't afford your services any more (even at heavily discounted rates) or isn't prepared to join the queue, what else can you do?

    In the end, this resulted in me losing my temper and an 18 month relationship came to an end.
     
    Digital Doctor likes this.
  2. gordy

    gordy Well-Known Member

    A positive reputation has it's own intrinsic value, if not now, down the road. I'm a believer in not burning bridges. Often I've relied on the good word and reputation of former directors (of employment I've left) for furthering my goals.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  3. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    Couldn't agree more, but I guess that is my question. How could this have been dealt with better? I want to learn the lessons from this (or at least pass on my lessons to others starting up a business), but what is the lesson here?

    Of course, I shouldn't have lost my temper (that was unprofessional), although that was probably always inevitable as there was this issue that we had both swept under the rug for 18 months and never actually dealt with.
     
    Digital Doctor likes this.
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Sometimes good coders don't need more coding skills they need to concentrate on "how to manage customers and their emotion's related to the average frustrating customer"

    Measure twice, cut once ... is a good idea for a carpenter .. but a better idea for a freelance programmer.
    Spend time to clarify projects.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  5. gordy

    gordy Well-Known Member

    It is tough to say and difficult to implement after the demise. Going forward and tips for upstarts, I would recommend setting concise boundaries from day one. (I should have done that with my Ex too!! :p )
     
    Kim, Digital Doctor and Jon W like this.
  6. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Well said.
    It takes practice and time to get better at it.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  7. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    I read a book years ago called the "Million Dollar Consultant" - you can still find copies of it around. Of course, I never became a "million dollar consultant" (per year!), but the book contains great biz advice!

    I also never burn my bridges, but that is not some advice given in the book. I just don't do it because I look at business as being very personal. I have been in biz for 35+ years, bought and sold companies, fired employees, won and lost clients and still have virtually no enemies or detractors. Sometimes a relationship just ends - and often it is for the best for both parties...

    Anyway, one piece of advice given in that book is that each year the "million dollar consultant" should count on losing 10-15% of their clients. Of course, they get news ones also! The book mentions that it is best if you can steer those clients to someone else - of course! But the fact is that as you gain experience and value, you cost more and make more! The person who paid you $25 an hour a few years ago may not be able to afford your $50 an hour cost now, even if you discounted it from your $60 regular rate.

    Here is the guy with the book - he has a lot of info online also:
    http://summitconsulting.com/

    Here is the update to the book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Million-Dollar-Consulting-Alan-Weiss/dp/0071622101
     
  8. gordy

    gordy Well-Known Member

    Client "churn" yes, and the new ones get better :)

    That's a steal compared to my divorce lawyer :D

    Great links, thx
     
  9. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    One of the biggest mistakes that people make in business is trying to get every client that makes an inquiry. While everyone should be treated nicely and with respect, a consultant (programmer, etc.) should pick who their market is and decide if a particular client fits the mold.

    Look at the hosting market as an example. Trying to satisfy the $10 or $15 a month client with personal service is almost impossible! One phone call or long email exchange and your profit (even your costs!) are done for for a quarter or year!

    Heck, I don't talk by phone to virtually ANY of my clients and it's been that way for 15+ years.

    On the other hand, I'm glad to work (free advice) with people for nothing. The way I see it, I want to help everyone but only a select few can afford to "own" me....and even they don't really own me.

    I know from personal experience that it's hard to turn down work. I was a general contractor for many years and also ran a retail business for two decades. In retail I always wanted to have something for any customer who came in the door. But in a service business, that is harder. What I do to counter this is to give away a lot of stuff "free" - that is, I freely blog and share advice, but it's more general. I'll gladly help out good non-profits....I've volunteered for quite a few and taught video, graphics, web, etc.

    Right now I'm starting that new Droneflyers.com blog and forum, and so I am blogging on how I am accomplishing things...so hopefully folks who want to start something get some free advice. But if you want to advertise or market on my site - or want a report from me on what your web site is doing right or wrong, you are gonna pay!

    Here is my blog, BTW, on starting the new site. I am going to add a part 4 soon and then maybe end with Part 5 in two months or so......until I report back at the end of the year.
    http://www.craigsfire.com/
     
    gordy likes this.
  10. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all your great insights.

    My price and availability usually filters out most inquiries, but it is an easy mistake to make.

    Nice to see that someone with experience also follows this model. I give all my add-ons for free and provide a level of free support with them, but I'd then always feel guilty about not giving enough time to my paying clients. I'd never thought of it in terms of "owning" me, but the way you say it makes perfect sense.
    I'll definitely be having a read of the Craig's Fire blog. I did a small amount of blogging for www.aumcore.com (not my site) at one point and found it was a great way to focus your thoughts. I should really start up a Waindigo blog.
     
  11. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright Well-Known Member

    Confused. Sorry, what actually happened?
     
  12. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    Sorry, that wasn't so clear. I was referring to the last line of the testimonial:
    It was quite clear from the beginning that she was getting a good deal and that quite soon she wasn't going to be able to afford to remain as a client. This reality was never dealt with in 18 months, which in hindsight is one hell of an oversight.
     
  13. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright Well-Known Member

    So are you saying she owes you lots of money which she is unable to pay? Or has she just had to let you go with a totally awesome reference?
     
  14. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    No money owed and the reference is an old one. Was more just interested in whether others had similar experiences and what could be done better.

    Ultimately, I had a customer who could no longer afford the going rate or wasn't prepared to compromise. Does that make her simply a non-customer or is there something else can be done.

    For example, it has been suggested that I should have made an effort to find an alternative developer for her. As it happens, I have just taken two new developers on and thought this would help, but I think it was too little, too late.
     
  15. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    That goes back to the "can't satisfy everyone" idea. It's nothing personal against you - every person has their "ways", sometimes not the same as yours or mine.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  16. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I had to let (force) a customer to go this week also.

    Basically he expected me to put in work worth 10x what he was paying me.

    For the most part nowdays, I don't bother with small scale customers anymore, they expect too much for not enough cash. I would rather take 5 jobs a year for £12,000 a peice than 60 jobs for £1000 each.

    The big jobs know that they are getting and budget accordingly, the small stuff expect the world, with no real "boundries" on a project and suck away your time and profit margin.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  17. feldon30

    feldon30 Well-Known Member

    Waindingo,

    Have you ever posted on ClientsFromHell.net? I would say any client you would write about on there, I'd consider letting go if you have more than enough workload. When things are going well, you can pick and choose your clients, as long as you give them a great experience and they stick with you. :)
     
  18. Kim

    Kim Well-Known Member

    I thought this was going to be about a relationship break up.

    In a way I guess it is, in that every time we interact with clients a relationship forms, the more we work with them, the closer we tend to get, the more we know the other person. Sometimes a closeness can form that might not be entirely healthy in a business relationship, and no I am not talking romantic or sexual (although that can and has happened!!!), but purely that boundaries can be overstepped and demands made that should not be, expectations of "over and above" customer service can become the norm. This is especially true when the person has been a real "champion" of you, your business and your abilities. They are invested emotionally as well as financially and it can hurt when those relationships are broken for any reason, but if it is financial it can be quite difficult all round.

    Never an easy situation to be in, and I wish you well in dealing with it in a graceful and dignified manner. It's never too late to apologise for bad behaviour if you think that is warranted, or if not, then time to move on, and not let the expectations of a former client cloud your current outlook.
     
    Jon W likes this.
  19. Jon W

    Jon W Well-Known Member

    Can't say I've ever considered it. Not really my style. Bosses from hell, now that's another story, and very much part of the reason I am now my own boss.

    Did you manage to end it amicably, or is there still some bad feeling there?

    That did come to mind when I was writing the OP, but as you say there are similarities, and divorce lawyers have already been mentioned in this thread. I think money is legitimately allowed to play a more important role in a business relationship though.
     
    0xym0r0n likes this.
  20. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    There was bad feeling, despite my relatively "high" cost, he also knew he had a good thing going because I knew a lot of background information into his industry and objectives, so he was getting a very good value added service, he wasn't happy about it and ended up leaving several sarcastic messages on my phone.

    But if someone is able to go from respectable client to leaving sarcastic spite messages on your phone, then sod em I say, would rather have other clients.
     
    Jon W likes this.
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