I see lots of people complaining or rolling their eyes at the behaviour of certain ‘vampire’ clients that suck far more time and resources than the average client. But what can you do?
1. Don’t take them on in the first place. Learn to recognise them and say no right from the outset. Unless you’re a lawyer or a licensed taxi driver then you are not obliged to take on every single client who comes to you (and even these have ways of turning down work)
2. Onboard well with a clear scope of work. Make sure that your onboarding process includes managing your clients’ expectations. Ensure that everything is set up well from the start and that clients know your working hours and who deals with what. For instance, we have a ‘reasonable use’ clause on our telephone support. If we can’t answer something straight away on the phone because it is complex or requires detailed calculations then this is an additional charge.
3. Service level agreements. Be clear on your turnaround times for answering questions or delivering your finished project/product/services. We aim to respond to queries by next working day and ask clients to reply within 1 week. We prepare year end accounts within 8 weeks and ask clients to send information within 8 weeks of the year end.
4. Automate reminders in your systems so that you don’t hold up starting work through lack of information.
5. Charging more is an option but sometimes this just encourages clients to feel entitled to more of your time or to send things closer to deadlines.
6. If all else fails ditch the client. There are plenty of good clients out there waiting to work with us.
Remember that it is your business and you get to choose who you work with.