From the tentative steps of the first brief, to the celebration of a project completed, a product launched, a media campaign won. Many of my clients have become a sources of inspiration, trusted mentors and valued friends.
Most often, the relationship between a customer and a consultant is of two people, assisting each other to reach a mutual goal: the satisfactory (and hopefully exemplary) conclusion of the client’s project.
From the brief to the launch/release/publication the relationship is one of shared knowledge and mutual respect; sharing the small victories and working through the challenges as you would with any colleague: as a team.
Sometimes, however, the freelancer/client relationship is an imbalanced one; the client takes the role of “employer” and therefore the freelancer is at the mercy of the “boss’s” mercurial whims.
Ever had a nightmare boss? Picture that situation without the certainty that you have to go into the office to face them in the morning but with the uncertainty that comes from knowing the other person has utterly unrealistic expectations and a lack of respect for you and your time.
Unfortunately, the occasional client believes, as I work from home, it’s perfectly reasonable to text me at 8pm on a Sunday night to let me know that the contribution they promised me by COB Thursday is now ready and that the project they would like to launch at 9am Monday is still expected to meet that deadline. (You think I’m exaggerating, I’m not, sadly).
Would that happen in the office? In some offices, yes, I suppose so. Would I work there? No.
I freelance because I want the balance between work and home life to be a harmonious one.
I really enjoy my work but I also cherish time with my family. I respect the precious time I have with them and want to give them my undivided attention.
This isn’t always possible (and I’m sure my husband would have a few words to say on this topic) but most of the time, family is sacred and I allot specific time in my day to work and I never work on weekends (well…. almost never).
So what do you do when you want to fire the client?
Ride it out and hope the client was having a bad week? Call them up and give them a serve? Submit poor-quality work in the hope they’ll fire you? Definitely not.
In some cases, it’s best just to cut your losses, send a tactfully-worded email that you’ll no longer be supplying your services, be thankful for the project in its good times and move on as you would any other relationship gone sour.
What are your nightmare client stories? Have you ever fired a client?