I don’t know what it is about working online that gives people the sense (or lack thereof) that people who do it are just freely available 24/7 to jump when they tell us to.
Weeks ago, I met with a local business that’s fairly well established in their niche. It’s one with a lot of potential, as at least 30% of the population (if not much more) could use their product at some point in their lives. A friend who worked there had suggested that the owner and I meet and see if we could work on a few projects together.
After literally weeks of delays, missed appointments, and well… you’ll see:
At 1145 this morning I received an email with them asking for a 1pm appointment. At this point, I’d had enough of having my time not being respected whatsoever, so I wrote back simply,
Thank you for your kind offer. However, I feel that this relationship is already off to a negative start and I have to decline.
Thank you for the opportunity.
The response I received was one of sheer confusion, and seemed to be seeking a deeper explanation from me, so I sent one.
Between all the delays (from even day one, as I sat in your waiting room for over half an hour), promises to be contacted, and last minute requests for phone calls that never happen, I feel that my time has not been respected. As I explained previously, I run a tight ship and I schedule things out very detailed and explicitly, and I simply feel that our styles of working would not mesh well together.
I wish you all the best of luck.
Firing Clients Sucks, Especially Before You Even Get Started
My business is about helping people grow and succeed online. Be it as an expansion of a bricks-and-mortar business, or an entrepreneurial beginning, I love seeing success for others. This economy sucks, and if I can help people make a little more money, sustain their businesses even a little longer, then I feel that I’ve succeeded on even a basic level. But if someone doesn’t take the process seriously from the beginning, it’s a wasted effort to try.
I’ve learned that respecting my own time is important enough, but even more so that respecting others’ time is non-negotiable, and I expect that people who want to work with me can handle that. Unless someone’s paying me to come in and give them a verbal kick in the pants, I’m not about to offer that up for free before we even get started on the project at hand. I sat there for over two hours explaining to them that what they had envisioned was wrong for them, and that I knew the better way to do it. They actually took notes on the free advice I gave them. Yet they couldn’t be bothered to keep an appointment with me?
It sucks, because I would’ve really enjoyed helping this company grow their rather large and rapidly expanding business, online. I have a ton of knowledge and experience to offer them that seemed to really “blow ’em outta the water” even on day one, and I think they would’ve really thrived taking it to the ‘net. But the truth is, unless someone’s desperate for work, or have absolutely no self-respect, they’re not going to put up with this kind of stuff either. I know none of my colleagues (to whom I thank deeply for their advice on this matter) would’ve allowed this to continue, so why should I?
I’m actually glad this happened the way it did, because it definitely taught me that I need to enforce my scheduling and timing even more than I did before. As Deb Ng also stated in her post today, On Being Accessible… but Drawing the Line, it’s important to respect others’ time, and your own. When you’re not planning to have an hour long (or three hour long) conversation with someone, don’t drop everything for them and don’t expect them to drop it all for you. Asking someone for a good time to talk is much better than requesting a specific time (or worse, immediate time) to do so. You may even be surprised when they tell you, “I’ve got a few minutes right now!”
While this wasn’t the first time I’ve had to “fire a client”, I’m sure it won’t be the last. And I’m sure that next time will suck, too, but it’s better to dodge a bullet than suffer for the sake of a few bucks. However, I’ve now left room for bigger and better opportunities, so here’s to that!
Have you ever had to fire a client?