How to Avoid + Say No to Crappy Clients

Have you ever had one of those pain in the ass clients who made your life a living hell? If so, welcome to business! You've officially been initiated. We've all had crappy clients but there's lots of lessons to be learned when it happens in your business.

Have you ever had one of those pain in the ass clients who made your life a living hell?

If so, welcome to business! You’ve officially been initiated.

We’ve all had crappy clients but there’s lots of lessons to be learned when it happens in your business.

Personally, I’ve had my share of crappy clients. These days, we have solid systems in place to make sure that we’re ready for 99% of the “unexpected” requests people make. I no longer respond to customer service emails (and you shouldn’t either!)

Did you know that pain in the ass clients are one of the most valuable things you can have?

It’s because of my less-than-stellar client experience that I’ve been able to:

  • Completely remove myself from handling refund requests
  • Create better client onboarding systems to prevent future problems
  • Identify and fix any holes in my systems where I was “dropping the ball”.

Click “play” to learn how to get the most out of your crappy client experiences:

It’s time for tough talk.

If you have a crappy client right now, you have to take full responsibility that this is your fault. It is not the client’s fault, even if they’re totally crazy. YOU have to take responsibility for the fact that you didn’t screen them well enough.

These crappy clients often show you about the holes you have in your business. They are revealing to you what systems you need to focus on to plug those holes.

So thank them because they are going to help you make your business stronger in the long run.

But if you’re sick and tired of working with crappy clients, here’s how to avoid taking on another one:

#1 Pre-qualify your potential clients

A terrible client will very often be a bad fit for your services or simply not be ready for them. So it’s important to have some actual qualifications for who you work with. And no, paying you is not qualification enough.

I like to have the guideline of three must-haves and three nice-to-haves. Clients that will be a good fit should have all of the must-haves and two of the nice-to-haves.

This can be a great way to objectively assess if someone is a good fit beyond whether they’re insistent that they’re ready to work with you.

#2 Screen with your gut

For a service that’s short term, like a 1 hour session, you don’t need to screen your potential clients. Be sure that you’re really clear on your expectations and refund policy on your work with me page to establish the ground rules.

But, for any longer term scenario, you must do a consultation before you start working with them. At this call, it is just as much your job to figure out if you want to work with them as it is theirs to figure out if they want to work with you.

It is up to you to say that you don’t think this client is a good fit. As tempting as it may be to say yes to the revenue, if it feels wrong it is. Don’t say yes out of desperation because you will regret it – every single time.

#3 Make it a win-win

When you have decided someone isn’t a good fit, be positive in how you present this information. Focus on the fact that you don’t think you’ll be a good fit for their needs but what they do need is (fill in the blank).

This is a much better way to let them know you don’t want to work with them than telling them your gut is screaming to run in the other direction.

#4 Be clear about your boundaries

You need better boundaries in your business. For instance, I am so concerned about how many service providers offering unlimited email exchange. There is absolutely no reason I would offer unlimited email exchange to someone I’ve never worked with before.

It is up to you to establish your expectations with clients. Be very clear with your boundaries and requirements. Tell them when you need their materials and when you need to take action. GIve them consequences for not following through on your requirements.

#5 Refund and release

If someone does slip through the cracks and is a horrible client, your best response is to refund and release. You do not want to spend time and energy to argue back and forth about someone who is stepping all over your boundaries.

Again, take a look at your systems to identify the hole they slipped through and how you can improve it in the future.

If there have already been deliverables completed, consider a partial refund to refund and release. If your contract doesn’t allow for that, consider now whether it should so you’ll be protected in the event of a craptastic client slipping through.

Tell me in a comment below! What lesson did your most recent “crappy client” teach you?!