Cathy walks through what to do when your design clients are disrespectful, rude or degrading, and how to fill your calendar with only amazing clients.

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Hello everyone, this is Cathy Olson and welcome to the Secrets of Gorgeous Design Podcast today. I’m excited to share with you on this topic because it is one of those taboo topics have not a lot of people are talking about and I think a lot of honestly, a lot of people don’t want to admit that this is happening to them and slash or I think people were just kind of letting this happen and it’s not okay, right? It’s one of those things that we need to do something about in order to elevate this whole industry that we’re in, so I can’t wait to share this with you, so let’s jump into this episode.

My name is Cathy Olson. I’m part of a group of entrepreneurs who are the founders and creative directors of their businesses who have a discerning eye and a ton of heart. If you ask those get rich quick types, they would say that pretty designed isn’t functional and doesn’t sell yet. We are proving everyday that beautiful and thoughtful details do sell and in fact attract unstoppable beauty and wealth. We believe that we can have it all and that sales can be gorgeous. These are the secrets of gorgeous design and we are here to make creativity, lucrative, build gorgeous brands and sales funnels and to make the world of business a gorgeous place to be.

Back in the day when I actually started, well before I started my business, I was a graphic designer for a long time for an agency. But before that or after that, I, when I first started my first entrepreneurial journey, when I first started my business, I was an invitation designer, so I basically was doing wedding invitations on the side so that I could pay for my wedding. I’m on the side of working for an agency or a design agency. We basically took any clients that I could possibly get at that point. I wasn’t charging very much. It was really inexpensive, but I was just kind of doing on the side. It had this like side hustle complex, right? Like didn’t really think what I was doing was worth that much. I didn’t charge enough. And one of the biggest mistakes I made in doing that that I quickly realized is that when you don’t charge a lot of money, you think that people are going to be appreciative, right?

It’s Kinda the opposite of what you think’s going to happen. You think people would be really appreciative that you’re so inexpensively priced and they’re just going to be, there’s just going to treat you like royalty because you’re doing them such a favor. Right? But it’s funny because it’s the actual opposite happens in the he our nightmare clients. And so for the Gosh, the first few years I have these type of clients that were just really not great and it’s not because they were great people, they just were a pain in the butt to work with and took me a while to figure out what this phenomena was because a lot of people experience and are experiencing this. But it took me a while to figure out why people do that. Like why are cheap clients, bad clients and why as started to charge more and more, why did my clients get better and better?

And I finally figured it out, and it’s really has to do with that. When you’re not charging enough you, your clients don’t trust you. It’s when, when you charge a certain amount, there becomes a kind of like, okay, I can leave them alone. Like they’re not, like on the, you know, they don’t have the training wheels on anymore. They know what they’re doing. I can kind of let go of the reins a little bit. It’s almost like a student driver who we see that sign on a car that says student driver. We’re like, oh, let’s see. Are they doing everything wrong? Where as if they didn’t have that sign, we wouldn’t be thinking anything of it. There’s this phenomenon that kind of happens and it’s one of those things you want to break out of as soon as possible because it makes life not in your business.

Not Very Fun. I got this question from a privately from one of my inspired pro students and they asked how, how do you deal with degrading customers? And it’s really sad because this happens really often and it’s like, you know, we’re doing everything we can, but our customers are not treating us with respect and they’re not tweeting for whatever reason. I don’t know for having it, you know, if having a communication breakdown or everything you send over is not good enough or they’re just being rude. And um, I will say that the better the clients I got, the more I charge, the more this improved, but it’s not enough. It’s not always enough. I will say automatically it probably starts to improve a ton and once you start charging more. But again, there are some customers that you know, your clients that you’ve booked and you know, what do you do now?

I just want to tackle that today. And obviously the first thing I would say that the, you want to charge more, the number one thing that you can do about degrading customers are rude customers or just in the less than ideal customers, even if they aren’t being super rude, is that to start charging more. It’s basically going to safeguard this from happening in the future as much as possible, as much as you possibly can. You know you want to. You really want it to make it so that you build this trust factor and that you want to be seen as the expert because as soon as that happens, they’re just going to let go of the reins a ton and they’re actually going to let you work and do what you do best and they’re going to believe you when you say, oh, I created this, or this is, this.

Design is amazing because they’re going to agree with you and say, Yep, you know what you’re talking about. I believe you. Versus you know, questioning every single thing you say because you’re too cheap. That is the first thing that you need to do before you do anything else because it’s a classic sign. If people, if especially if you’re getting a lot of rude clients, it’s a classic sign of you not charging enough. So that is the first thing that you have to do. That’s your first line of defense. The second thing you want to do is that you need to kind of step back. Let’s, so let’s say you are charging enough and you are getting kind of what you’re worth and you’re still having like this one client. So maybe the majority of your clients are great, but then you have this one client that or customer that’s degrading or just not respectful, um, or just not believing you are not trusting you.

Right? The thing I would do in that situation is that you need to do something dramatic to get on the same page. Sometimes it’s just a communication issue, like maybe something broke down in the project and you, they’re just not really, you’re not quite speaking the same language and you just need to get on the same page. Maybe they’re getting frustrated and they’re taking it out on you because maybe they’re there. Maybe they’re nervous, maybe they don’t know what’s going on. Maybe they just need a little handholding. I will step back and I’ll say, okay, let’s get on the same page. And a lot of times that’s just means hopping on the phone and talking through or maybe even meeting in person. Is that something that you can do and just getting human to human and getting on the same page and going, just kind of pulling back all of these like layers and, and uh, of stuff that’s happening between you and just go, look, what’s, what’s happening, what’s going on?

Like we’re, where are we at with this? Why is this happening? Are you confused? Can I help you with this? I hear that you’re frustrated, but what’s going on? Just really being heart to heart with them in pulling back the layers and just being like, let’s be honest with each other. What’s happening? Why is there something going on? And this is a like you write or something, something like that. If especially if I have some clients that will just totally flip on me, like they were really, really great and then all of a sudden out of nowhere they started getting degrading or, or rude or anything like that. That’s a big sign of something’s going on under the surface and we need to tackle that right away. Um, so that’s kind of what I’ll do there, but we just, we just need to count the same page.

And then really what you would do from there is once you’re kind of on the same page, you need to actually put your foot down and let them know that it’s not okay. That’s what I would actually go. Be really honest. Like, you know, I’m, I’m trying really hard. We’re on the same team here, you know, like we both want the same thing. We want you to have this gorgeous design. We want this amazing thing for you. Um, but we’re not, I’m not feeling the love, you know, like it’s, it seems like you’re frustrated and you’re upset or you’re not liking what we’re doing. Let’s get that. Let’s get, let’s fix this. Let’s turn this ship around and make this better. And a lot of times just just be like, you know, kind of calling it out saying basically saying, you know, in Nice, nicer words that you know, you’re being rude and this isn’t okay, this is not the way that things work in my sphere that is enough to usually kind of shake it up a little bit and go, Oh Gosh, I’m so sorry.

I didn’t even realize I was speaking to you like that. A lot of times just kind of calling it out and just saying, hey, is there something going on because this isn’t normal? Um, or in just kind of putting your foot down and saying like, this isn’t okay. You know, just kind of basically bringing the problem to light is enough for them to go, oh wow. You’re totally right. I’m so sorry. Like, I didn’t mean to do that. I’ve been going through a lot of times we get some apologies and some explanation about what they’ve been going through or something. Or maybe they’re just like, you know, I’m just really frustrated or, you know, or something I’m stressed out about this. Like, you know, people are human and things happen, so you just want to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

And then the after. That would be the second thing I would do, you know, to, to make sure let’s, let’s do some kind of a pow again on the same page and let them know that it’s not okay, the behavior’s not okay and that we’re on the same page and like let’s figure this out once you kind of, do you know, the, the mediation sort of way, if it’s still bad after that and they’re not really still not respectful or if they’re not following your protocol, or if they’re just straight up being rude, that’s when you have to get to like strike three and step three and that would be to actually fire the client. Sometimes I give, you know, like again, if it depends on our track record too, if they’ve been super nice and then all of a sudden it’s just gotten really bad.

I’ll do it. Like I said, number two, I’ll do the check in with them, see what’s going on. But then if it gets really far and they’re still that way, that’s when I’m like, okay, this is probably not the best situation. I don’t think we’re a good fit anymore for whatever reason, you know, if it’s a communication issue, if it’s that they just literally don’t like what you’re creating, maybe you’re just literally not on the same page. Whatever it is, it’s kind of time to like, okay, this isn’t working. And I think it’s very, very similar to any kind of a relationship where, you know, it’s not me, it’s you, it’s not you, it’s me, you know, that whole thing. But just being really disrespectful, like overly respectful of them because it’s really know. And I know that’s hard to do when people aren’t respecting you and they’re degrading you.

It’s very hard to be, you know, that that’s sweet and nice person. But, but you always have to do that, you know, you always want to come from the high ground and just kind of say, okay, you know, Gosh, you know, we talked about this. I let you know that this is, that this kind of behavior is basically not okay. You can’t treat me this way, right? Like, I, I don’t. I don’t think this is a good working relationship. I don’t think we’re a good fit for each other. So, and then that’s when you’d kind of go back to whatever your contract stated about canceling the working relationship and I would cite that and basically, you know, say, you know, we’re going to have to move on from here. Whether that’s giving them their money back or you know, sending them to someone to work with someone else or whatever that looks like to you obviously make sure that your contracts pretty solid before you start working with them.

Just in case this does happen, but that’s what it’d be like. That last step, if they, if they really kind of had that heart to heart with them, got on the same page and there’s still degrading you and treating you badly, it’s time to get out. It’s not one of those situations that usually improves after that. Like if you had to see how to talk and that it’s not improving. I don’t, I wouldn’t stick around too long as in the money is not worth it either because again, you know, it really is true though, that you’re not a good fit for them because if they’re frustrated, unhappy, not loving what you’re creating. I mean, you, you’re both unhappy, right? So they need someone else to write. So if all else fails, you’re not the designer for them either. So that’s kind of what I would do in that situation.

And you know what, that’d be the final step. But I think it’s a really important step and I think that, you know, when, when you, if you’re worried about the money, about losing the money, you have to understand like, okay, well my, what’s my peace of mind worth? Right? And how important is it that I am working with clients that love what I’m doing and that I love working for because it’s just not a good situation and it’s not going to create a great, gorgeous design. Right? When you’re working under duress like that, it’s not good for anybody, so it also will open you up for the opportunity to get a better client that will appreciate you and we’ll treat you right. It’s definitely not worth it to stick around in a bad relationship like that. Just like just like any relationship. Right? But this is a choice like you’re not even, you know, you’re not getting married to this person.

You have a choice for them to work with them. This is always like an at-will type of thing. You don’t have to work with anybody. You can always leave and if you can’t, obviously make sure that you can always leave. Make sure that’s in your contract. Those are the three things that I suggest for you to do that, that you, that you need to start doing if you’re not already doing, but if you are having an issue and you and you guys will know, like as soon as we start talking about this, if you start feeling that that pit of your stomach feeling like, oh, I know I need to fire this client, or I know I need to say something and I’m not saying it has to go all the way to firing. Definitely try. The second thing for us, try to get back on the same page on the first.

Try to mediate it out with them before you go to level three. You know, three strikes. I’m try to do that first and see if that helps and see because a lot of times that will, that will really just clear the whole air up and everything will get good after that and you’ll still be able to move forward with some amazing design. And taking those three steps always will help ensure that your calendar is full. Okay? Only on the most amazing clients that you can do amazing work for and create gorgeous things together. Thanks guys. I hope that was helpful and I’ll see you next time.

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