Avoiding the Client from Hell – 4 Signs They’re Someone You Don’t Want to Work With


Someone once told me that money is money and if someone offers it – you should take it. This was 10 years ago; they were my only competition at the time and today they are out of business. I always use to think that I might risk going out of business if I was too picky when selecting who I worked with and who I didn’t. Years later, I know now more than ever why it is often best to stay away from bad clients.

That’s right, there is a such a thing as having a bad client. It is someone who is willing to pay you money, but most likely will not be happy with your work right off the bat. There’s no need to even produce quality work or service as it is just about guaranteed that they will hate it no matter what.

So why would they hate what they pay you for? Simply because their views on what should happen and their perceived assumption of value is very different than yours, meaning that you think charging them $5,000 is a great price and they simply think it’s robbery, or perhaps you believe your expertise is what you are being hired for but in reality they are just looking for a work horse.

One way or another, a bad client is a threat to your growth and to your bottom line. Today I am going to break down for you how to identify if you are about to embark on a terrible journey by selecting the wrong client to work with.

1. They know everything.

This is the first sign that you should hang up the phone immediately. The person that wants to hire you is telling you they are an expert in everything they will hire you for – they just don’t have time to do it themselves. Chances are, that if they were in fact experts, they would do it themselves or manage someone close to them to follow instructions.

The problem is that right from the beginning they are positioning themselves as having the upper-hand, and since they are the one who ultimately has the final say they will most likely be extremely picky and constantly be looking over your shoulder. This will probably prevent you from being able to do your best, which at this point means you work will not be good enough.

2. They used to be in your business.

If a client tells you their past experiences includes being super successful running the same business you run, then you should run. Nothing worst than someone who has had experience from years ago and believes their experience to be equally as valuable today as it was then. The other downfall is that they will most likely nit pick every little thing you do saying things like “we used to…” or “back then…” and no one has time for that.

3. They have a very skeptical approach as to why you charge what you charge.

If you provide your price, your services and your differentiated value proposition, and your client is arguing with you that there is no worth in your service as others charge less, then they probably aren’t the right client for you. The main reason here being that the client’s perception of what something should be worth is very different from what yours is.

While it’s perfectly ok for someone to inquire as to what you do differently, what your track record is, and to ask educated questions around why you charge more, it is not their place to tell you what you should charge based on your competition. This is a sign that they do not believe you are worth the money you are asking and therefore will raise their expectations to unrealistic levels only to make themselves feel better as to why they spent what they spent.

4. Your client is comparing you to the wrong competition.

When someone wants to hire you, it is likely that they will be doing their homework and will want to understand what you charge compared to your competitors, but when they select your competitors wrong, it should be an indication of future trouble. Be cautious of clients who are misinformed and simply shop supposed competitors as they will most likely be the client that comes and goes and has no real value to your business.

In both my businesses, Secret Consulting and VIP Motoring, I am very selective in who I work with. The main reason being that 99% of the work we receive or new members we interact with are referrals from people who do not hire us to do work for them but rather see in us an extension of their need.

They respect us as much as we respect them, they understand we are a business and must profit to survive as much as we understand that they have a choice of who to work with and therefore charge them fairly. Every relationship in life including the client/business one is one that requires a fair amount of give-and-take.

While most business owners believe that give-and-take to start and end with money, I believe that give-and-take to be a bit more personal and a connection between two people choosing to work together towards a common goal, no matter how long or short it may be.