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Telling People No
Posted 19 August 2003 - 09:10 AM
I have a bit of a problem. There are two clients I have that drive me crazy!
Every time they contact me for more work I swear I'm going to find a way to tell them I no longer want to work with them, but I just don't know how.
They drag their feet. They postpone projects right in the middle of all the work. They withhold payment (even though they say they love the copy). They "unexpectedly" go out of town when I ask about a check or CC payment.
The whole ordeal is slow, aggravating and takes SO much of my time that I make little to no money.
I understand that people may work at different paces. I'm well versed in personality types and communication styles. I know that some companies stretch financially to afford a copywriter. And I appreciate those facts. But these two guys are WAY beyond the norm. They are the extremes.
I just got an email from one of them and I'd like to have your advice on how to politely tell them that it's just not working.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 10:57 AM
It's best to be honest, but I can understand how you wouldn't want to hurt their feelings or anything. But saying something like, "I can't take on your work at the moment" isn't quite a lie. If they ask when you can, just say, I'm not really sure and will get back to you when I think i can, but you might want to look for a new copywriter for now.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 11:01 AM
How's the conference?
Thanks. I really don't want to hurt their feelings, but the dragging on and on (with the work and the payment) is just not acceptable.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 11:21 AM
Posted 19 August 2003 - 11:52 AM
I've used the "I can't take on any more work" reason several times, and once I used "I have another client that is taking up a lot of time right now, I'll get back to you, but it won't be for about 6 months, is that ok? Oh, by the way, here's the URL for someone who might help you in the meantime." That won't work for many people but it did for this guy. Sometimes I wish I could still respect myself by telling some people they are time-wasting, inconsiderate, free-loading leeches, but I can't. I can barely *think* it.
I've also raised my prices when I want less work, or as a "annoyance tax".
If someone has better ideas that don't involve unprofessional rudeness, I'm all ears
Posted 19 August 2003 - 11:55 AM
Raise your prices and ask for deposits and progress payments.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 11:58 AM
I think I may have to do the "schedule is full" thing. Actually, that's not far from the truth. I do have a waiting list.
I'm with the both of you... I don't want to be rude, and I don't want to lie. I also don't want to tell him (and the other guy) that they are a huge waste of time. I actually like the work they bring in... it's all about time, not personal.
I just can't justify 4 months to complete 1 cover letter or 1 ezine article or 1 press release and then have to wait another 60 days for payment. Ahhh.... nope!
Posted 19 August 2003 - 12:06 PM
After my first experience like this I build a clause into my contracts that goes something like this:
"any delay on the part of the client that extends beyond 30 days and which prevents me from completing the work will result in termination"
Then the termination clause kicks in ;-)
I've had several clients sign the contract and I am sure to point this out to them...
But I do prefer the money up front part :-) I get 50% up front and 50% 2-4 weeks later...so that I am not waiting for my money because the work is not complete because they are stalling....
I like the people who email or call and say "go ahead and start the work...I'll get that signed contract to you shortly"....and it never arrives ;-)
Posted 19 August 2003 - 02:28 PM
Having their CC info on hand lets me be in charge of their billing. I don't do any invoicing as it takes too much of my time. Doing it this way prevents me from becoming a collections agency and lets me concentrate on what I think I do best My recurring billing is set up once and forgotten!
Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:20 PM
"Premium Prices" -- One of my bigger clients is difficult to deal with, my contact is the daughter of the owner of the business. She's asked for a proposal for more work and I have charged premium rates. If I am going to continue to work for them, it definitely needs to be worth my while! I did consider saying "too busy", but it still does stick in my throat a bit!
About slow and non-payers, seems like the contract is what you need. My husband, The Accountant, gets really annoyed with me when I have trouble collecting after a job is done, "Did they sign the Terms of Business, saying they had to pay before you made the site live?" "Uh, I didn't get 'round to sending it to them."
Any good resources/templates for creating a contract/terms?
Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:27 PM
These two are some of the initial few. As I said before, it's not consistent work (which is why I probably never did anything about it before). They sort of come and go with little onesy-twosy projects.
At any rate... I'd rather just cut the rope and be done with it.
I did email the one guy earlier and told him I wouldn't be available this go 'round. He didn't email me back.
Oh well... then end result is the same.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 08:34 PM
I gotta say, four months for a cover letter is pretty silly. Good riddance. Yow!
Posted 20 August 2003 - 01:00 PM
I also like the idea of telling them you're busy and giving them the name of another copywriter. You're not totalling abandoning them and you pawn them off on someone else. I did that once when I was a flood irrigator. Unfortunately, the person I found was a lousy worker, which reflected poorly on me. So be careful who you pick!
Something I always wanted to try was making up a mock obituary and sending it to them. Then, if by chance you see them on the street, just pretend you're a ghost. It'll either creep them out with a whole "6th Sense" kinda' thing, make them believe they're crazy or they'll just think you're crazy. No matter what, you've got 'em outta' your hair because who wants to work with ghosts or crazy people!
Posted 20 August 2003 - 01:28 PM
But there's a flaw in that plan-- if you're dead, who's sending it to them???
Posted 20 August 2003 - 01:45 PM
Yeah, I think the one guy is out of here. The other guy popped up, too. Why do they always come in pairs?
I gave him the same deal (which is true) and he said he'd wait. Oh well... I may have to do something else with him.
I really DO appreciate all the business/clients I have. I understand that they could've chosen countless other copywriters. I guess that's what makes it so hard to cut someone lose.
And like Dragon said, if I tried explaining it to them, I'm sure they'd get offended or ticked off. I don't want that either.
And the world turns
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