The quality of your clients can make a massive difference to the success of your design business—and to how much you enjoy your work.
The best clients pay promptly, communicate clearly, and are always reasonable in their expectations. The worst clients are the opposite.
If you want to keep more of the best clients, then here are three key things to keep in mind.
Setting Clear Expectations
You should always be clear about what your client can expect from you. When will you provide deliverables? How many rounds of revision are you willing to do? How often can they expect you to be in touch during the project?
It’s easy for your client to make assumptions—for instance, perhaps the last designer they worked with offered unlimited revisions, so they’re expecting that you will, too. But you limit revisions to two rounds.
Be crystal clear upfront about what your client can expect—and you’ll be sure not to disappoint them.
Delivering on Your Commitments
Hopefully, you have a clear idea of how long projects will take when you provide a quote. It might be very tempting to promise a client that you’ll be able to get their logo to them before the week is out, no problem because you can fit it into your calendar—despite the fact you have several other deadlines.
If all goes to plan, you might be able to deliver just fine on all your commitments. The problem comes when something doesn’t go to plan. Perhaps one of your kids is off school sick, or maybe you simply find that everything takes a bit longer than you expected.
It’s always best to underpromise and overdeliver. That way, you’ll have a delighted client rather than a disappointed one.
Giving Gifts to Your Favorite Clients
If you want a client to stick around, a great way to show how much you appreciate their custom is to give them a gift. You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money: a well-chosen present might only cost a few dollars but could be very meaningful.
The best gifts are tailored to your client’s interests. But if you’re not sure what to send, just check out this list of creative corporate gift ideas.
You might want to send a gift after finishing a project—or you could use this as a way to stay in touch. For instance, perhaps your client has recently received an industry award, and you want to send a small gift to say “congratulations.”
How to Spot a Bad Client Ahead of Time
As well as keeping your best clients, you’ll want to avoid taking on clients who are going to drain your time and energy.
Here are some red flags to look out for when you’re assessing a potential client:
- They haggle over the price, perhaps even telling you that you’re too expensive.
- They expect constant availability, maybe complaining that you took too long to get back to them.
- They’re very unclear about what they want.
- They ask for their project to be completed “ASAP,”—suggesting it’s a much higher priority than your other work.
- They trash-talk a previous designer who they worked with.
- They refuse to sign a contract.
Keeping the best clients and avoiding the worst will make your design business much more profitable and enjoyable. Follow the tips above, and in a few months, your days could be filled with great clients with whom you love working.