Chris Parker | Emmy Winning Media Designer

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Dr Strange Client or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Clients – Part IV

Ok folks, this is the big one.  Up until now I’ve discussed ways multi-media producers can better serve their client’s needs without sacrificing time, money or quality.  Serving clients by meeting and surpassing their expectations, is the goal of every good producer and the key to a healthy client-producer relationship.

But what happens if that relationship breaks down?  What happens if the producer fails to deliver?  What happens if the client’s goals become unsustainable and unmanageable?  What happens when the relationship becomes a great big ball of uncontrollable animosity? Well, in the immortal words of George Jetson’s hot-tempered diminutive Boss Mr. Spacely, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

Not all clients and producers will hit it off.  There are times that despite best efforts, the business relationship becomes a detriment to the project and to the business.  It is when that happens, that it is time for both parties to go their separate ways.

But how do you know?  What are the tell tale signs that a client-producer relationship should end? And how should it end?

These are very good questions and not always easy to answer.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that separating yourself from the relationship has to be, and I mean has to be, the last ditch, last gasp nuclear option.  Quitting on a client and quitting on a project is counter-intuitive and counter-productive to your business.

I mean you need your clients to stay in business. Telling them to “hit the road” is not good business practice and could really damage your street cred. So before you “fire” your client and potentially damage your business you must really weigh in all the factors.  Simply put, the risks of keeping a client must out weigh the risks of losing that client.

That gets back to the question, how do you know when it is time?

Well, that’s easy.  Just ask yourself, is your client costing you and your business money?  Well are they?

Waste not, want not….

If at the end of the day you are losing money because a client takes up way too much of your time with “freebies” such as consultations and revisions or they are simply just not paying their invoices then it is time to cease and desist with their projects.

You are in business to make money.  That’s it.  Making money must be your primary goal.  If a client relationship jeopardizes that one goal then you must make some tough decisions.

“Toughing it out” or never giving up because of your professional dedication and commitment is not doing your bottom line, your business or your family any good.

However, terminating the business relationship is not something that should be done hastily.  Do everything within your power to make that relationship work.

Be upfront and honest with your client.  If a client expects free consultations and project revisions, it is your job to tell them that your time and revisions have a price.  Even if a client threatens to go elsewhere, you as a business owner need to stand your ground.  Do not give away your hard work.  Clients will and do respect this kind of honesty.

In short, if a client does decide to go elsewhere because you don’t offer these “freebies” then you probably have saved yourself a big headache not to mention a ton of time and money.

In turn, if you find yourself stuck because you promised or permitted your client free consultations and revisions then the only advice I can offer is to either “bite the bullet” or let your client know that you can no longer offer these services free of charge.

Now, on the other hand, if your client is remiss in his payments or just refuses to pay for work already done, then it’s probably time for a change.  However, it is up to you to handle the matter professionally and calmly.  Do not let emotions or past conflicts enter the equation.

Getting angry and belligerent with a client doesn’t do anyone any good at all.  It just shows a lack of courtesy, respect and business leadership. Just simply remind him of his obligations. And if that fails just let him know that until he pays his bills the project cannot go any further.

Clients are people, and just like people, most are decent and likeable, but some are not.  A toxic personality affects everyone around them and that means you, your employees and other business associates.

So even if a client is paying his bills, you may be doing yourself and your business a disservice by associating with a negative client.

The key to good business is to remain happy and confident in what you are doing.  If a client creates an atmosphere counter-productive to this then all the money in the world is not worth the aggravation.

This does not mean that every disagreement or inconvenience merits ridding yourself of the client.  It simply means that if a client creates enough havoc and angst then perhaps you should re-examine the relationship.

To create a successful multi-media business you must like your clients.  You must understand their needs and believe in their vision.  You must stand behind them and trust their goals.

If you are unable to do this then your success, as a multi-media producer will be short lived.

It goes without saying that if you do need to separate yourself from a client do not burn any bridges.  Keeping an open mind and a professional attitude will always leave a positive impression even to the most negative of clients.

Maintaining healthy business relationships makes for a good businessman. Successfully navigating a hostile business relationship makes for a great businessman.

This concludes my four part series “Dr Strange Client: or How I stopped Worrying and Love My Clients” I hope you found these articles informative and as enjoyable as I did.

If you missed any of the first three parts of “DR. Strange Client”, you can read them here:

PART I (Overcoming Creative Differences with your Clients)

PART II (Tackling your Client’s Budget)

PART III (Making it Look Good with a limited Budget)

What’s next for The Emmy Winning blog?

Well, ‘tis the season to be jolly.  Watch for a special Christmas Yuletide video.

Also I will be sharing some tips on how to make your videos better, yes even your homemade videos.

Until then be sure to “Like” The Emmy Winning Facebook Page and subscribe to The Emmy Winning Blog by entering your email on the right sidebar.  And of course check out my website, chrisparkerproductions.com

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