Getting clients or customers is your first objective with your freelance business.
But, as you’ll see if you haven’t already, effectively establishing and maintaining a good client working relationship can be even more difficult.
Some clients require more assistance than others, and there are some who require a LOT more assistance. Here’s what to do with challenging clients.
Lazy Client Syndrome
Most clients understand that if they want good output (whatever the product or service is that you provide) that they need to give you good input (information about what you are creating for them, background on the project, etc.).
But some clients just don’t understand that this relationship is a two-way street. Some mistakenly think that hiring you was all they needed to do.
I affectionately call this “Lazy Client Syndrome.”
Lazy Client Syndrome usually takes one of two forms. The first form is that the client is lazy about giving you input and just wants you to “figure it out.”
The second form is at the other end of the spectrum. The client inundates you with too much information to accomplish what you need to do.
I call this “Lazy Client Syndrome,” but it is not really about laziness. The most likely cause is that your client is overwhelmed by the process, doesn’t know what information you need to do your work, and is looking for you to guide the process.
How To Handle Lazy Clients
1. Ask for the information you need.
Your first action to take when you are faced with Lazy Client Syndrome is to write a detailed list of all the information you need and schedule a call or a meeting with your client.
Avoid just sending an email. It’s too easy for a client to ignore it.
Ensure your list is highly detailed. That most likely means asking very specific questions about the project you’re working on. If it is similar to a project you’ve completed in the past, try looking at your previous notes and compiling questions for this client.
By asking detailed questions, you’ll help your client organize their thoughts and get the communication flowing, ensuring you—and your completed project—are set up for success.
2. Increase your fee.
Your second option for dealing with Lazy Client Syndrome is to charge more. If your client is resistant to giving you the information you need—or giving you too much information, which is just as challenging—it’s likely you can find it out somewhere and then revise when your client gives you feedback.
But, of course, doing that research and shifting through all the information you gather is going to take time. You absolutely need to take that into account when you’re billing for your services. Remember: Time equals money!
3. Stop working with the client.
Your third option is to stop working with this client. You’ll find (if you haven’t already) that some clients are just naturally disorganized, resist working effectively with others, or simply cannot provide what you need to make your project successful.
If you’re able to work around these obstacles, go for it! If, however, you find working with this particular client simply unbearable, it’s okay to stop working together. After all, one of the best benefits of being a freelancer is choosing who you want to work with! Sometimes the stress of making a client relationship work just isn’t worth it.
Remember: Client/freelancer relationships are just like any other kind of relationship. They can run smoothly or bumpy from time to time. They can be stress-free or stressful. But it’s always up to you to pick your clients.
Have you ever encountered lazy client syndrome? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!