It is the unfortunate circumstance of any professional service business that it must interact with a wide range of clients. From the easygoing and easy-to-please patron, to the difficult and demanding dictator, all clients require similar care and feeding to keep the relationship working. Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your clients is the best way to ensure repeat work and increase referrals. Here are some basic tips for handling your clients.
Designate a point person
It is an interesting phenomenon with any web design project that everyone wants to be a part of the process. The CEO wants to choose the photography and the IT guy wants it built in dot net. And they will all let you know what they think and why it should be. Ask the client to appoint one person as your main contact and require that all communications and directives come from her. Doing this will decrease the mental turmoil of having to deal with too many cooks in the kitchen, and it will require the client to get organized and unified in their dealings with you.
Establish a payment schedule based on three or four milestones or deliverables. Invoicing your clients on a regular basis maintains a professional relationship. Invoices are a humble reminder that there is a job to be done, alleviating emotional parasites that sometimes attach themselves to a project. Also, billing a client after a milestone in the project gives them something tangible and quantifiable and makes them more likely to pay on time.
Hold regular meetings with the client even when you don’t think there is anything to talk about. Often times, you’ll find there is plenty to talk about once you make time to meet. Client delays are the number one reason projects go over deadline. Meeting on a regular basis will keep you and the client thinking about the project. This is especially important when you have clients who are responsible for pieces of the project, like copywriting or product photos. These clients need to be prodded and reminded on a regular basis or you will never see those deliverables and the project will be delayed.