No matter what kind of business you’re operating, there is always that one client that turns out to be more difficult than others. While client satisfaction should be a priority, managing expectations and communicating boundaries is also important. Here are three types of clients that tend to cause headaches:
#1. The Negotiator. This is the client who always wants to get a little bit more out of the proposal. As a small business law firm, we are often approached by folks who want to “establish a long-term relationship” and think that this quasi-promise of future work is worth something. When they receive a proposal for the services we recommend, they often come back asking for a lower price or more services. Sometimes, they even use the threat that another attorney has quoted a lower rate. When this negotiating happens at the beginning of the relationship, it’s a sure sign that it won’t ever stop.
#2. The Client With Unreasonable Expectations. Everyone wants their project done this week. Sometimes, they want it done yesterday. Another time, they expect to receive their full investment back from a business partner that made a few bad decisions. No matter how much advice these types of clients receive, sometimes they just don’t understand that things don’t always work out perfectly. Usually, this type of client is seeking advice too late.
#3. The Client Who Wants Advice, But Won’t Take It. As a law firm, we’re often advising clients on how to fix issues before they arise, but sometimes, they simply refuse to act on that advise. We once had a client who owned a business and was diagnosed with cancer. We began the process of setting up a business succession plan, and she wanted to give the business to a family member. Unfortunately, that family member could not legally own the business. We tried to explain this, and presented other options, but she was stuck in her ways.