It happens often: a high maintenance client contacts you after their current web designer “magically disappeared”.

The “my web designer suddenly disappeared” explanation (read: excuse) should be a red flag line for you. There isn’t that much magic in the world. It’s an illusion, remember? An illusion no greater than the idea of your current desire to “disappear” once you heard those words. I bet if you wanted to “disappear”… you. could. too.

However, you, the contractor, must take a minute to analyze what that client just said to you and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Why did their previous designer / programmer disappear?
  2. Have I worked with this client before?
  3. Did I LIKE it?
  4. How much is it worth to me, to maintain my sanity and still gain revenue, all the while, providing a great service and product to this client who could potentially be the real reason why the previous designer / programmer disappeared?
  5. How much do I want to add to my service cost for having to deal with this client who will now micro-manage me because they’re concerned and now… “broke” due to their previous contractor.

If you got past #3 with a smile, and/or this statement is not that much of a red flag for you and you decide to continue to work with the client, it’s very important that you remember these 3 things:

  1. YOU chose to ignore the red flag.
  2. It’s not the client’s fault that YOU chose to ignore the red flag.
  3. The red flag will NOT magically disappear.

Here’s the kicker…

No matter how many times you run from a red flag, there will still be times when you forget.

But have no worries! Live with no fears!

That client will surely remind you.

The truth is…

How you respond to this client from here on, is what will determine your fate.

If you choose to work with the client:

  1. Be sure to keep a smile on your face and try to remember why you accepted the project in the first place.
  2. It will benefit you to endeavor to find out why your client “thinks” their previous contractor “disappeared”. Note: Trying to go the cheaper route and getting stiffed by a company from India IS second common. Having an entitled high maintenance attitude and thinking that their $50.00 project is what pays your mortgage, car note, and health insurance is usually first.
  3. You may not be the previous contractor, but you’ll bare the brunt of having to reassure the client that you won’t cause the same sort of issues. Take it in stride. It was “worth it”…remember?
  4. Emails can sometimes be misconstrued.  Sometimes a phone call works best. Pick up the phone.
  5. Set a clear project scope. Be sure to be clear and concise with what you’re providing and what you’re NOT providing. Repeat yourself…multiple times. Note: This person is now emotional because they feel wronged. They may try to forget what they wanted.
  6. Get it in writing and keep records.

If you choose not to work with the client:

  1. Be kind and provide them with the contact information of a rival designer / programmer.

Hopefully you chose the latter. It seems like less of a headache. Piece of mind is hell of a drug.

While the recession is slowly coming to an end, things are still rough. Taking on that demanding client may be a must for you in some cases. But keep your eye on the prize. Be mindful of the end result.

And Godspeed.

x0x0, boon