How do I get better clients?
I’ve talked to you about how to get clients. Now let’s talk about the next step.
For me personally, the whole client game begins and ends with respect. Respectful clients always get my best work because I want to make sure they stick around.
Here are some behavioral attributes of respectful clients:
- They ask for my input early in the project process
- They take action on the advice I give them
- They know the value of my work
- They plan ahead
- They schedule times to talk
- They assume I’m as busy as they are
- They come to the table with money
- They pay quickly
- They say “Please” and “Thank you”
- They’re friendly and professional
- They take responsibility for their part of the project
- They communicate well and answer the questions I ask in full as soon as they can
- They schedule appropriate amounts of time to complete a project
- They’re genuinely interested in my well being
- They’re proud to introduce me as “their designer”
- They take pride in the work I create with them
This list accurately describes most of my clients. This list is the standard, the baseline from which I operate the client selection process of my firm. I choose not to start relationships with “red flag” clients.
Red flags are there for a reason. It means this potential client is not right for you, and that’s okay.
Okay Clint, this all sounds wonderful but I need money. That’s cool. There’s zero shame in serving someone well, getting the job done, and getting paid. Do you want to stay at subsistence level design work for the entirety of your career? If not, it’s time to prune your list.
Do what with my what what!? Remember your ideal client list? Take a look at your list and highlight the clients you worked with last year. Pick the three you’ve liked working with the most and give me a call. Chances are, they match my list at the top of this post pretty well.
Thank them for being a respectful client. Next, spell out exactly what it is they do that you like about working with them. Talk to them about your list and ask for ways to expand your level of service for them.
What do I do about the rest of the list? We prune. I’m going to pause and assume you already know what pruning is. We remove the things that are getting in the way of growing a healthy list of clients. In doing so we make room for more healthy client relationships to grow stronger and bloom.
It’s okay to be “too busy” to take on a project from absolutely anyone that does not meet the items on the list. Especially if they are friends or family. The better you are at graciously deflecting these projects, the better off you’ll be.
Become a practitioner of respectful ruthlessness when deciding who stays on your list.
It’s never too early to keep a close eye on your list of clients. I wish I had known these things when I started my firm so many moons ago. Feel free to use and or modify my list. Use it as your filter when talking to potential clients. That way you’ll be able to grow a thriving list of respectful clients!