Does it really take that long to cough up $500?
November 6, 2012 10:49 AM Subscribe
Freelance/small business filter: How to handle clients that you are ambivalent about working with?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am a freelancer and over the past few years, I have tended to weed clients in and out by how much I like them. One of the most important criteria along this domain is: Do they pay on time (net 30), or per an agreement (if it is net 60, fine as long as everyone is up front about this). But if I have to chase to remind them about payment and hear silence, or spend a few months waiting for and chasing a check, then the next time that they contact me I am "busy/can't take on any other projects."
I've been lucky in that I have enough clients/work to get enough work for a salary for the year; if I need more work, then I check in with the clients that I like and enjoy working with and a new project/work almost always appears.
But I still occasionally hear from the client that I've weeded out; they approach me with projects, request for updated contact info, etc. I am polite, but claim to be too busy to take on new work.
If this were a friendship and I decided that they had crossed a boundary, then I would ignore the email, but since this is my livelihood, I wonder if this should be handled differently. Although it is just business, I have a hard time taking emotion out of this because it is my livelihood and I would pay a bill on time; I usually worked hard to hand something over to them on time and meeting all the criteria that they wanted.To be honest, I don't actually need the money right then ...and the clients that do this do it with what seems to be a small amount of money (to me).
These are the solutions that I came up with, but I've always done 2 if I decide that I don't want to work with them.
1) Address what they did and how we need to work moving forward: If you would like me to work with YOUR COMPANY, you need to pay in advance since you paid late in the past.
2) Continue the "I'm busy" (I don't want to refer them to anyone else, if they did this to me, then they will do it to someone else).
3) Just be honest "I like the projects, but late payments are a problem for me. If you ever work at a new company person Y, I would be delighted to work with you again. "
There is a part of me that is worried about 1, 2, and even 3 because one never knows, people move around in this industry. I don't think that I can or should count on the great clients being there for the next 20 years, and I might need the ones that I weeded out at some point.
So what are thoughts on these solutions and are there other solutions/responses? Is there a way to take the emotion out of this (for me)? Were you upfront with a client and/or did you weed out clients and was there a repercussion for this?