I wonder whether other small business people — say, electricians or wedding planners — find themselves dealing with a potential Disaster Client.
Someone like Jackie (name changed to protect the guilty!).
Jackie recently contacted me seeking info about my designing a website for her.
Turns out, she was putting the cart before the horse because she had:
- No business name
- No logo
- No product to sell
- No outline for the classes she wants to conduct
- No deadline for project completion
- No budget in mind for website design
I tried — patiently, encouragingly — to walk her through the process, but she kept getting sidetracked. She’d brought along a friend — Carrie (name changed to protect the innocent!) — and repeatedly engaged her in discussions unrelated to the topic at hand.
And when I attempted to bring her back on track, she assured me she wants “total control” of this venture.
Who’s doing the design here, Jackie?
Well, Jackie had gone online and attempted the do-it-yourself route, “but it didn’t look pretty, like the ones pictured.” No, I don’t suppose it did. After all, you‘re not the professional.
Then she blatantly informed me that, if someone signed up for one of her helping classes and wouldn’t do what she told them, she’d have them leave. “Just go ahead — wallow in your misery. We’re going to improve, with or without you.”
Carrie and I exchanged a skeptical glance and winced simultaneously. When we called Jackie on it, she insisted she was serious.
Okay, how does she expect to make money to recoup the expenses she’s going to incur by hiring me to design a website for her if she’s going to run customers off??
The meeting deteriorated from there. Jackie wanted all sorts of bells-and-whistles for her new site, but she refused my suggestion of hiring a programmer because of the additional cost. “Oh, you can do it,” she said. “You probably need to learn programming anyway.”
And if I had any doubts about refusing to work with her, they evaporated when we discussed price. I pulled a ballpark figure from the air for programming and design (way lower, I might add, than any of the estimates I found online from other designers), and she looked at me like I’d sprouted an owl where my head should be!
So, I’m sorry, Jackie. You’ll need to find yourself another designer. I didn’t go into business for myself to be made miserable by Disaster Clients!