It has happened to all of us. You get that client inquiry, but something just seem “off”. While you can’t quite put your finger on it, something deep down tells you this person might be a problem. These are “red flag” clients and they are something you always want to watch out for.
Here are three different types of red flag clients to look for:
The over-the-top communicator. This type of client wants (and needs) all of your attention, both day and night. They are not respectful of your time and want things done on their timeline. If you don’t immediately respond to their email on a Saturday, you’ll be getting a Facebook message or phone call. They will continually push the boundaries of the relationship. There are certainly clients who need more hand holding than others, but if they’re this demanding at the start of your relationship, it’s best to thank them for their interest and run.
The Pinterest demandor. This client will make a lot of photographers see red. It’s one thing to suggest a few “must have” photos, but if they send you a giant Pinterest board or list of poses that they demand to be taken at the session, it’s a red flag. Ultimately, they don’t trust your vision or what you will deliver to them. Our jobs are relationship-based, and dedicating time to someone who makes you feel “less than” is usually more of a headache than it’s worth.
The “friends and family” angle-worker. This client can be especially tricky, considering they are likely someone whose relationship extends beyond business. Don’t let a guilty conscious make you second guess how much you charge them. You need to create firm boundaries. We recommend having a standard (and small) discount on products for this type of client, but never discount your time. This is your job and livelihood and the people who love you need to respect that.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to do is trust your gut. How do you feel about the client? Do you find yourself excited to work with them? Do you have hesitations moving forward? If your gut is sending you signals saying no, chances are that it’s not going to be worth it in the end.
Don’t forget that you are the boss, you are in control, and you don’t have to take every client that knocks on your door. Being a small business owner is tough as it is, and passing on red flag clients will give you balance.
Have you had a client before that you later wished you had passed on? What were the signals you saw but chose to ignore?