Since I started working as a self-employed translator in 2016 I have helped many companies by translating their content from English into Dutch, and I have enjoyed working together with most of them. But there is always that one client that sends you an email in the middle of the night expecting you to solve their problems whilst being asleep. They expect you to be available for their last-minute changes, always, working for peanuts of course. But working for this type of clients hurts your company more than most people realize.
Let’s say you make 60 dollars per hour, sounds nice, right? The thing is, you only get paid to do the work itself. Stuff, like communicating with the client and solving problems for them, does not make you any money, in fact, it is only costing you money. Please allow me to explain:
For example, I am working on a translation for an agricultural manufacturer and they pay me $0.09 per word, I do translate 450 words per hour so my hourly income is $40.50.
But only the translation itself gives me this income per hour, but before I start translating I have to know what the client wants and other related things. After that, I am ready to begin. But, I might be spending up to 15% more time starting and finishing the whole project than I get paid for. So keep this in mind when accepting a new project.
But how does a bad client cost you money? I will tell you
Let’s say you need 2 hours to prepare and deliver a project to the client, which is acceptable and normal in my line of work. But now, there is this client who is always asking for last-minute changes and adjustments, sometimes even after you delivered. Now how do you handle these clients? Do you accept their behavior, or do you push back?
Whatever your answer may be, these clients are costing you money, more than most realize. Because instead of needing 2 hours per project, you now need 5 hours which is more than double! Who do you think is paying for that extra time? Certainly not the client who expects you to help him no matter what, for no extra charge…
You are spending more time on these clients than you should. Your time is much more valuable than that, use your time for marketing purposes, or spend more time doing quality-checks for clients who do value your time as they should. I have a solution to solve this issue…
How to say ‘no’ to a bad client:
Ok, you decided to no longer let that bad client bully you around, great! Now you need a plan on how to do this, I will help you by showing you how I solve this problem.
But before we continue, keep in mind to always stay respectful, be focussed on their interests, share expectations, and stay professional.
Example text for firing a ‘problem client’:
(Name) — Our team of strategists made an analysis of our long term goals and decided to focus on servicing only a specific type of customers.
That said, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to help you anymore after (date).
We recommend you moving forward with providers such as (competitor) and (competitor).
Thank you for your understanding. What follows is a list of the steps you can expect from our team.
(list of steps for you to take)
Sending bad clients to your competition
Doing so might look strange, but I can assure you, It’s the best thing to do. The client who you just fired will still think highly of you since you always had his best interest in mind, and you proved this by sending them to your competition.
By providing a list of steps from your side, you prevent any misunderstanding and possible problems in the future. Manage the expectations from this former client and part ways on a positive note.
How do I recognize a bad client? 5 tell-tale signs
1: Always wanting a discount, always focussing on the price.
2: They seem to have no integrity.
3: You only hear from them when they need something, they are not available for you.
4: They feel like they own you since they pay you and are not afraid to remind you.
5: They want to become friends, and sometimes even get a ‘discount for friends’.
How do you handle any bad or unwanted client, would you mind sharing this with us and help others?
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