Here's what you do with deadbeat clients and how you can avoid them.
At some point in time, you're going to encounter bad customers. There will be customers that will be slow to cough up the cash, some who don't ever seem to know what they need, and ones you can't ever seem to please. If you've ever experienced any of these people then you know nothing can be more frustrating than working when you and a client can't get on the same page. It can sometimes be so exasperating that you're willing to give up the business just so that you don't ever have to deal with that person ever again. As tempting as that may be, the only person who loses in that situation is you -- the business owner. 95% of customers will share a bad experience with other people. Even though these types of clients can be a nightmare to work with, their opinions still matter to other consumers, which is why you need to take extra care in handling these clients.
Keep your cool
The first thing to keep in mind when dealing with a less than ideal client is to always remain professional. Regardless of all the nasty (although sometimes deserving) insults you might think of saying to your client, you have to remember to keep your composure. Many things can go wrong in a high tension situation and as the business owner and the one with the most to lose you want to remain in control of the situation. Keeping composure allows you to make clear and rational decisions which could be the difference between a positive review or a negative review.
Once you've realized that a client or customer may be difficult to work with, you need to immediately try to find common ground. Again, high tensions situations can instigate negative reactions in people. Get your emotional intelligence up and find the place where you and your client can relate in order to come back to a positive place. I'm sure some of you are thinking that you could never share interest with some of the bad clients you encounter but, you can find common ground in a lot of places. Remind them of why you decided to do business together in the first place and of all the positive things that will come from the relationship.
Remember the #1 rule... sort of
The customer is always right -- to an extent. Which is why it's important to stand your ground in the rare moment when you find that a client has crossed the line. If a customer goes as far as to insult you, your business, or your team, there is no shame in politely defending your hard work and the people truly dedicated to your company. If they're a decent human being they will recognize their fault. If not, don't be afraid to decline the business. At this point the client relationship has been damaged and moving forward would likely result in discontent for both parties.
If for any reason you do have to sever ties with a customer, make sure you have a solid policies or a contract in place that protect you from unwarranted consequences. If you're selling goods and deal with multiple customers a day, make sure that your policies for conduct are clearly stated. If you're offering a service and working with clients, make sure that your contract addresses clear client expectations and terms resulting in breach. Protect yourself from a legal nightmare.
The best way to deal with shitty clients is to simply try to avoid them. Start by learning from the ones you've already encountered. Reflect on that relationship to figure out where things went wrong and how things could be handled better if you were to come across a similar situation in the future. You should also also try to work with clients that share your core values. That may be hard for businesses that engage in multiple transactions a day. However, if you get the opportunity to pre-qualify a customer prior to doing business with them, ask questions that indicate if you're the right business for them. With that said, recognize that not all opportunities are good opportunities. It's okay to politely decline business if you know it's not the right relationship for you. It's so easy to be blinded by the excitement of making a sale that we ignore the red flags and end up in uncomfortable situations. These simple solutions are good ways to ensure that these negative experiences become fewer and further in between. You can't always avoid bad clients, but you should always be able to handle them with poise and grace.