There is a myth out there amongst designers and developers that there is no such thing as the perfect client. It is believed that as long as you are in the services industry, you will never achieve happiness because working with anyone outside of yourself will always lead to frustration. I am here to tell you, it’s all a lie.
The problem is not that there aren’t perfect clients out there, it’s just that most designers and developers don’t know how to discover them. We tend to settle for the first gig that lands on our lap or ignore the warning signs that tell us we are heading into danger. We don’t communicate clearly or ask the right questions. It’s no surprise then that freelancers end up finding the fabled “clients from hell.” Rest assured though, if you look for the right signs, you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Five Signs of the Perfect Client
1. They don’t lead the conversation talking about money.
Perfect clients never lead the conversation with “how much will it cost?,” because cost is secondary to great results. The people you want to work with should desire the best solutions for their specific needs. If money is their first concern, you are in trouble.
2. They ask you for your professional opinion.
Perfect clients want to hire professionals, not butt kissers. They want to work with you because of your expertise. This is why you should be confident in your abilities and never shy away from standing your ground (nicely) when you know you have the right answer. Perfect clients respect your experience and wisdom, even if it goes against theirs.
3. They pay you what you’re worth.
Perfect clients are willing to pay you your worth even if it means stretching their budget. HOWEVER, you must communicate what value you will bring for them and then deliver on it. Everyone wants to be careful with their money, but perfect clients also understand they get what they pay for.
4. They are interested in relationships, not transactions.
Perfect clients may only hire you once, but usually they are looking for a long term relationship with you or your company. Working with a new vendor is a process and an investment. That’s why most clients would prefer sticking with you and why you should do your best to take care of them.
5. They take care of their invoices on time.
Perfect clients don’t tell you the check is in the mail because they pay you on time. It may be hard to believe, but there are people who actually pay you when you send the invoice. They don’t like waiting for their money either and they are respectful of your payment terms.
Finding Perfect Clients is Hard Work but Worth It
In the first decade of my business, I managed to find many of the worst clients to work with. I was desperate, young, and inexperienced. I believed the lies that are common in our field. I was depressed and broke. Then I met Rick.
Rick was my first perfect client. He was looking for a custom brand identity for his startup company when we first met. After some cordial small talk, I went into my presentation and then showed him my portfolio. At the end of our meeting, Rick asked me for an estimate for my services. I was extremely nervous since I was trying to raise my prices, but I confidently replied it would be approximately twenty-five hundred dollars. At that moment he got quiet, turned around, and then picked up his check book. He wrote me a check for the entire amount and told me if it ended up being more, he would pay it. I was blown away!
That’s not the end of the story either. Over the next decade I continued to do ongoing work for him (approximately six figures worth) and we eventually became close friends. He became a mentor and champion of my business. Rick was truly the turning point in my business because he showed me that there are perfect clients; clients who believed in what I did and what I was worth.
Finding the perfect clients isn’t easy. If it were, no one would ever be complaining. But don’t ever believe they’re not out there. Just look for the signs and ask the right questions. You will discover that when your business is built around clients who value what you do, that you will be happier and fulfilled in the services industry.