I’m on a journey to figure out what I want to do with my life since quitting my job. This is one of the things I’ve been working through so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts out loud.

So I was having a very interesting conversation with a business associate/cousin of mine today about the difference between good clients vs. bad clients.

And no, the answer isn’t one pays and one doesn’t.

But that’s certainly part of it.

It’s crazy because we were talking about it and then he went home and found he had a gift in the mail for his new baby daughter from a client.

I’d say that’s a pretty good indication of a great client relationship.

It’s interesting being in a world where someone is paying you for your service.

Time. Out. I finally just realized how I’m going to describe what I do:

“What do you do for a living?”

“I get paid for my services.”

“… …”

Anyway. Back to the topic at hand.

What makes a good client and what makes a bad client?

I think it’s simply this:

A good client knows that they need to take care of you in order for you to take care of them.

It’s a two way street. If my clients are constantly questioning my methods, how much time I’m spending on something, or wanting me to lower my rates, they aren’t a good client.

If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve run into these clients, but before I’d go too far down the path of firing them, I know I gotta first look in the mirror.

Why don’t clients want to pay what I’m asking?

Granted, there are some people in this world that love to grind people for every nickel and dime they can, but that’s not most people.

Most people will recognize that if I’m providing something that they can’t, while doing it with a great attitude, and at a rate they can afford, they are going to want to keep me around to help them be successful.

So there’s a few keys here that I need to figure out:

1. Providing something that they can’t.

I read a great quote from Tim Williams that goes something like this,

People are most sensitive to price when it’s something they think they could do themselves if they had enough time.

If whatever my service is, is something that they could do themselves (or easily hire someone in-house to do), but just feel like they are too busy, they likely aren’t going to be paying for my services for long.

One way to make sure that isn’t going to happen is to keep expanding my skill set and adapting to new things. Staying ahead of the curve and developing my own skills are so important.

And another great way is to dig deeper into their business so I can understand more in order to provide more value. The more I know about a client’s business, the smarter I can be to help them build it. And they love talking about their business so it’s not that hard.

But ultimately, sometimes, there are clients who actually could do what I’m doing or hire someone in-house to do it. And in this case, it simply may not be the right fit and I should go provide value somewhere else. There’s nothing wrong with that.

2. Having a Great Attitude

I can never forget how important it is having a great relationships with the people I work with and for. It’s contagious and it really, truly isn’t that common. And while people don’t just want to work with “nice” people, if I’ve got my first point locked down, then healthy, sane people really do want to work with nice people that are very competent.

We’re human beings. We should love great relationships. Having a great attitude and coming through for clients means that they will trust me. And trust is not something that can just be bought or replaced easily.

If my client really doesn’t seem to care that much about attitude, building trust, and developing a great relationship, do I really want to do business with them? Do they really want to do business with me? Sometimes people just don’t click and it’s ok to mutually move on. That seems seems best for both sides.

3. A Price They Can Afford

If I’ve nailed the first two, chances are I’ll have a really good relationship with my client. Now comes the part where I talk about the dollars and cents.

And it’s crazy how many games are played here.

Really, if you think about it, the ideal situation is that both sides can feel great. A great partnership has both sides looking out for each other’s best interests.

If I, as a service provider, am helping a client toward their vision and building their business, they should really, really want to keep me around because I’m helping them be successful.

If they as a client are someone I love working with and help me build my business/life, I really, really want to keep you around because they’re helping me be successful.

If my client can’t afford to pay what I feel is fair for doing the work, then it’s not a fit. If it’s something they really, really believe in and feel like they need ME to make it work, they’ll find a way. On the other side, there’s lots of things in life I’d like to have, but I can’t afford so it doesn’t work out and I move on. And that’s ok.

Your Take?

So those are some of my thoughts on it, but there’s obviously a lot more smarter people out there.

Curious if a) anyone reads this and b) if anyone has a story of what a great client relationship looks like for them or c) you are a client and you can share your experience?

Would love to hear your stories or thoughts?

Photo credit to myself for an awesome PB&J picture.