What is a high maintenance client? Is it someone who makes unreasonable requests or demands? Is it someone who doesn’t respect your time or your efforts? How about someone who tells you what they want and then complains after you give it to them. They sometimes will say that they wanted something completely different and accuse you of not following instructions. A high maintenance client can be all of these things and more. The real question is how do you deal with them? Sometimes your best bet is to just part ways with them once they give off any warning signs that they are going to give you trouble. This is the most recommended course of action. Of course there are exceptions when, for whatever reason, you must work with a high maintenance client. When this is the case, there are a few tips that can really save you some problems.

The first thing to remember is to make them put everything in writing. The worst thing that any client can do to you is say that you didn’t follow instructions. Many times this will be a case of their ego getting in the way of being honest. It will typically happen like this. The client tells you that they want you to complete task A, B and C by next Monday. You begin working diligently on the project to meet the deadline. The next day they think to themselves that they also want you to do task D as well, and they want it done by Sunday morning instead of Monday. Well, the client is a busy person and they forget to notify you of this change in the deadline. Sunday comes around and the project is not complete yet, and task D has not even been touched. The client is furious, but rather than admitting that they forgot to tell you of the change in plans, they say that you just didn’t follow their instructions. This is a scenario that I have heard of many times before. Now, not only do you have an irate client, but they will likely tell other people that you can’t even follow basic instructions. This is very bad; you never want people saying negative things about you or your company. Negative rumors spread like wildfire and can deeply hurt your reputation. So how can you avoid this nightmare in the first place? There is a simple solution that is 100% guaranteed to protect you from this problem. There are four words to remember, put it in writing! Before you start a project with any client, make a detailed checklist of the tasks you are going to complete for them. Have it be as complete as possible with a deadline included. Have your client sign this checklist before you begin. As long as you do this, you will be safe. If they complain at all about what you did or didn’t do, you can just show them the checklist with their signature. They may still be mad, but at least your reputation will be safe.

The next thing to remember is that it’s only business. What this means is that you really shouldn’t take it personally if your client is treating you this way. They may have an attitude; they may be disrespectful and just flat out rude. You need to remember that you are working with this client for one reason and one reason alone, getting paid. You don’t have to love them or be best friends to work with them. Just do the job as the instructions were given. It’s up to you to decide if the money is worth the effort of dealing with the client. It may or may not be worth it. If it is though, you must put aside all of the things that you don’t like about them and just do the job. Even with enjoyable clients, you are never working with them to be friends. Having a good relationship with your client helps, but you should never expect it.

The last tip that should always be remembered is to drop a client as soon as you realize that it isn’t going to work out. Think about it; if you realize that your boyfriend/girlfriend is a psychopath after a week of dating, you don’t continue to date them for a year. If things are really bad after working with a client for just a few weeks, think about how bad it will get after a month or after a year? There are some warning signs to look for that you should be cautious of. It’s up to you of course to decide if these problems are deal breakers and good reasons to end the working relationship. These problems are major ones though and should never be ignored. Not returning e-mails or phone calls. This one is bad. If you don’t have good communication with your client, working with them will be tough; after all, you can’t read their mind. Being verbally abusive is a major deal breaker for me. If a client can’t even give you basic courtesy and speak to you respectfully, then you should drop them. No amount of money is worth being treated disrespectfully. An unnecessary lack of trust is a bad sign. If you feel that your client needlessly distrusts you, you may want to consider dropping them. This is a problem that will not go away any time soon, so get used to being distrusted if you decide to stay with a client like this.

We hope this has shed some light on high maintenance clients. Everyone has them from time to time; just remember that it’s nothing personal and that there are always ways to deal with them. Always remember to drop them early if it’s more than you can take!

Stay tuned for our next article about how to build your ideal client profile. This will help you to decide who you want to work with and possibly how to avoid these high maintenance clients. Have you had any experiences with a high maintenance client?

Author's Bio: 

Kimberly Grass is Founder and President of K Grass Business Consulting. She has over a decade of extensive experience working in the real estate, accounting and marketing field, specifically assisting small businesses. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to use the skills she acquired to help other business owners. She enjoys helping business owners to expand and improve. Her attention to detail and organizational skills enables her to provide the highest quality service possible for her clients. She strives at helping entrepreneurs to maximize their business potential.

She has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Plymouth State University. She has an in depth knowledge of marketing research and implementation. Kimberly also has worked in local government. She is Ethics Check Certified, a Certified Real Estate Support Specialist through the International Virtual Assistants Association as well as a Certified QuickBooks User.