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From the ‘Lesson Learned’ file

by Sue Leipzig on March 6, 2013

Recently I was taking an afternoon break and watching Dr. Phil. Even if you’re not a big fan, you have to admit he nails it most of the time. The guest was railing on about something – doesn’t really matter what – and Dr. Phil said in his slow southern drawl something to the effect of ‘well that’s absolutely true, that was bad. Now you have two choices, you can be a victim, or you can say ‘I went to school on that’ and now I know better and I’m better for it. It’s time to learn from it and move on.’

Damn. I heard that.

I don’t do victim, and even when ranting, I’m a truly joyful person, but a recent business situation had me tempted to blame the client and go into full on snark mode complete with “can you believe that guy…” to my colleagues. My inner voice was calling BS on myself, because I know it was 100% my fault. Mea culpa and all that. Then I read this reminder from The Middle Finger Project and although I already knew the scoop, it was tough to let it go. I take my business very seriously, I do an excellent job for my clients, and I don’t take $^!% from anyone, so why did I let this one client treat me like that? Truth is, I never should have agreed to work with this person in the first place. Our initial conversation went something like this:

red_flagAD: How much would you charge for X? I tried to do it myself, but it didn’t work.

Me: $YYY

AD: Why that much? What is so difficult or takes so long that makes it worth $YYY. (the rest of our short-lived business relationship went downhill from there, including him asking me out twice, me turning him down twice, then him referring to my work as “basic technical support”.)

Me: Blah Blah Blah, explain explain explain, defend defend defend. Blechhhhh.

What I wish I’d said:

Me: Click (Just kidding. Not really, but this is a business after all.)

Me: You’re paying for my knowledge and expertise in setting up X. This covers my time in talking with you, the emails we we will undoubtedly be sending back and forth, and all the behind the scenes work that you won’t see, but is necessary to make X work without problems. You’re welcome to look elsewhere if my rates don’t suit you.

I’ve worked hard to build my business, as well as build the confidence I have today. While AD didn’t shake that at all, he did reminded me to keep my antenna up for huge billowing red flags that say “This client is going to be a P.I.T.A.*”. I definitely went to school on that one and it won’t happen again.

It’s tough for us service driven professionals to turn down a potential client, but every once in a while we have to. It’s important to remind ourselves that sanity is necessary to grow a business that will bring joy (as well as cashola), not suck the life out of us. We all know that P.I.T.A. clients will always, always be more work than they’re worth, unless you are lucky enough to get one that knows they’re a P.I.T.A. and compensates you accordingly. I have one of those clients and I LOVE her. Even the best clients will balk at fees or question the process occasionally, but when a client is disrespectful or insulting at the outset, RUN, because just imagine what they’ll be like when they get comfortable.

Lesson Learned.

Have you had experiences with P.I.T.A. clients – what did you do about it?

* Pain In The Ass

Susan Leipzig is a joy junkie, Class A introvert, WordPress fanatic, and Administrative Consultant ready to help you remember what you love about your business. Call today to schedule your consultation. 503-805-7309

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