Episode #260: Repelling Crappy Clients
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You were listening to episode number 260 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about repelling crappy clients. On to the episode.
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Hey, welcome to Episode 260 of the Boss Girl Creative Podcast. I am your host, Taylor Bradford. I’m excited that you’re here. Today I’m talking about repelling crappy clients, aka working with your ideal clients. And of course, if you listened to last week’s episode, you will have heard me have an actual experience with a crappy client legitimately, while I was recording last week’s episode, which I’ll have to give you an update on. But, oh, I know we all have them. I know you have stories you can tell about working with crappy clients. I think we all do, especially if we’ve been in business for a while. And just FYI, if you’re new in business, or you’re starting a new business, this is going to happen. It is it’s a learning process that we all have to go through, unfortunately, but this is why it is so incredibly important to niche down into what it is that you want to do and offer, so that you are speaking to your ideal clients, to your dream clients.
I want to start off with a couple of my crappy client stories. You guys remember my mantle client from several years ago. That was the client itself, my bride; she wasn’t the issue. It is actually the mother of the bride, who was not my client. And to make a long, a super-long story short, I had a mantel placed against a wall in a hallway where there is not traditionally a mantel, and after multiple people handled it, it lost its footing. And it was placed in a 100-year-old venue with uneven wooden floors, and it’s a free-standing mantel. And what ultimately sent it down to the ground, crashing to the ground, which ended up busting and breaking all of the picture frames that were sitting on top of it, was a guest on her phone, not paying attention to where she was going, and she brushed up against it with her shoulder, and that’s ultimately what caused it to fall. And I’m not even kidding when I say this happened almost three years ago, and I just finally fixed the mantel this past weekend because of my most recent canceled-client, which I’ll finish that story in just a minute, but so I just literally put that mantle out of sight out of mind for almost three years. Yeah, so that was that was crappy client number one. I ended up getting paid, actually charged the card on file after I couldn’t get anybody to actually pay it on their own. And everything was kosher after that. But, and then last year’s rain client. Do you remember me talking about the rain client where I lost so much furniture because it was left outside in the rain for five and a half hours? And I ended up getting paid by the insurance company the client had hired. So I’m grateful for that, but I did lose a complete three-piece vintage lounge setup set. One of my other vintage sofas was pretty much ruined. It’s gonna actually go in for new upholstery because it’s, it just looks really sad. So that was another crappy client. And it wasn’t necessarily the bride, but the bride wasn’t my client. In that scenario, the mom was, and the mom was not pleasant. That was not a pleasant experience. So that was crappy client two. Private client three was this most recent one, which you heard me mention in last week’s episode. And on Thursday of this past week, I received an email from the bride that said she found a venue to host her wedding, and could we still come out? And my initial gut reaction was like, “WTF?” was my first reaction. And I was like, I just knew, I was gonna, I just kept telling myself, “You just go ahead, you just need to go ahead and fix this mantle, like, she is going to email you. This is how this works. So just go ahead and get this mantle fixed.” And I had started working on it, thankfully and then I got her email on Thursday evening at 5 pm for a Saturday, Saturday wedding. And her other option to me was “Wait, if it was too late to wait to do family portraits in the winter” and yeah, no, no, I busted my butt and got that mantle allll nice and pretty with new feet that would make it stand upright without any safety issues or guests not paying attention to their phones or their surroundings and using their phones I should say. So we ended up delivering to that client’s venue on Saturday, and it was much further than I anticipated, but that’s okay. That is one and done, and we’re good to go there.
So those have been my crappy client experiences, which are few and far between. But every time something like this happens and I do end up working with a crappy client, I end up having to make a change to my contract so that I don’t ever get myself put in that situation again. And I have to say, like, crappy clients, they just bring out the worst in us, especially if they’re price hagglers. I had a potential inquiry. A bride called me up on the phone and wanted to rent one of my backdrops for her backyard wedding that was upcoming and but she only wanted that. And at the time before I increased my minimums, which I just did, two weekends ago, I was at a minimum of $750 for deliveries. And but she didn’t want that she just wanted to pay for the price of the mantel. And she wanted to pick it up. Well, that’s against my policy. We only allow our team to make deliveries of our furniture – our backdrops are delicate pieces – because we know how to handle them. Clients don’t know how to handle them, and it’s just hard to replace things that are in my inventory. So she says to me on the phone, and you know, she tried, but she was like, you know, businesses are hurting. And well, I guess like maybe yours isn’t, but businesses are hurting. So isn’t some money better than no money? Well, no, some money and no money when you are being so demanding that I come off my policies. And I mean, she pushed and pushed and pushed and I just stood firm and kept quiet. Quiet causes people to get flustered and they, they start rambling and speaking more. So if you’re ever put in that scenario, just keep your mouth shut. It will be the best for you, and it keeps you from saying things you shouldn’t say, really. And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve employed that scenario multiple times in the last, I don’t even know, for the last few weeks, especially during COVID and what that’s kind of done to the wedding industry. But, silence makes people uncomfortable and so they just fill it. So make sure you got silence in your back pocket because it will definitely help you.
Crappy clients also sometimes like to withhold payment, and I can speak to that too. We had a tenant at one time in our car lot. And he called me up and said, “Hey, our electricity is out.” And I was like, “Okay. Did you call the electric company?” He was like, “No, I thought maybe you would know why.” And he made that assumption because the electric was still in our business name because prior to him moving in, we had signed a three-year commercial electric contract, and to keep the rate we had and so we were just paying the electric bill, and he was reimbursing his expenses for that. And so that was his initial thing was, “Well, did you pay the electric bill?” Like, that’s really what he thought. I hadn’t paid the electric bill. And so, my question was, “Well, have you called?” And he was like, “Well, no.” And I was like, “Well, have you walked the perimeter of the property to see if maybe something has happened?” He’s like, “Well, no.” And so, like, I made my way over there, and I’m not kidding, the backyard neighbor’s humongous oak tree had fallen on the power line, the actual mainline coming into the building and had destroyed and demolished the power meter. And Encore is who services Texas, is the actual distributor of our distributor of electric here. And they had actually disconnected the power for safety reasons because this massive tree is sitting on the line. And I’m like, “Well, that’s why you have no power.” Just like, “How did you miss that? It’s a massive tree that literally destroyed the power meter.” And so it took us about ten business days to get it all repaired and back on because with power and electricity, there’s steps you have to take with your city. So once you hire the electrician, electrician makes the repair then the city has to come back out and inspect it and give it a green tag, and then they have to communicate to the state to let them know that it’s been repaired and it is safe, and then Encore schedules a time to come back out and reconnect the power. Like it’s an involved process and these ten days span over kind of a weekend to two weekends. I don’t remember exactly where it all started. And I remember saying to my tenant, “Hey, you know, this would be a great time to go get a generator.” We’ve had, there’s a main thoroughfare electric line running down the property on our west side, and squirrels love to hang out on that line, and it’s not been, it, like it’s happened where they have blown fuses because they are playing on the line. And I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. We had lost power in the past because of squirrels. And we always had a generator because we needed to keep running our business. We had to have power, and we always had a generator. And so I’m like, “Hey, you know, I would go get yourself a generator. We’re doing the best we can, but you know, there’s policies and protocols and, you know, safety implications and what have you.” So long story short, when he reported to me that there was no power, we were already on like day three or four at the beginning of the month, so he hadn’t paid rent yet. And by the time he got it turned back on, he still hadn’t paid rent. So that was ten days. That meant he was around the 15th of the month. And, y’all, I’m not even kidding when he used that as leverage to reduce his rent, and he threatened us. He tried manipulating us. He used all sorts of really bad tactics, trying to get us to renegotiate that month’s rent. And like it was so infuriating. Like, he kept saying to my husband, “You need to sit down,” and my husband’s like, “I’m not sitting down, you’re not sitting down. So I’m not gonna sit down.” And he, I cannot think of the right word, but it’s illegal, what he was attempting to do. And I, it made me so mad, I had to leave the room, and go out and get on the phone with my insurance company, because that was the other thing. He was like, “You’re going to do one of these three things. You’re going to either waive my rent. You’re either going to, like he just like, laid all these things out that literally were not options as either pay rent or move out. And I had to call my insurance agent and be like, “Can he file a claim against me?” And he was like, “You don’t even have that kind of insurance, so no, he can’t.” I mean, it was so crazy. But that’s a crappy client. That is an absolutely crappy client.
So all of this to say that even I can’t predict my own crappy clients, and it does cause me to go back in and readjust policies and procedures and contracts. And if you don’t have a contract, please, please, please get a contract. And there’s some really great lawyers out there for creatives. Caroline Fox is one of my personal lawyers. And Businessese. Danielle Liss, with businessese.com, is another fabulous lawyer for bloggers and influencers and creatives. Annette Stepanian is another one for creatives. And please make sure you are fixed all which way to Sunday. You can’t prepare for everything. Like I said, business is always going to be throwing you curveballs, for sure, but make sure you have a contract.
So I say all this because it’s super important to niche down and speak to and attract your ideal dream client. You’ve gotta set boundaries, and you got to set policies, and you’ve got to set procedures, and you’ve got to stick to them. I had a call today with a potential bride who wanted to rent a backdrop, and that’s all she wanted to rent. This is the same story on repeat, but this is all she wanted to rent, and she told me her venue, and it’s one that I work at a lot. And she said I it I only want the backdrop. I see that you have a minimum, and is there any other way to rent this backdrop? And I explained my policies and you know, she was disappointed, but I also got her talking about her wedding and florals, and so I was trying to figure out maybe her florist would have a backdrop that might work for her. And I just got her talking, so when we hung up, she was not feeling negative about the fact that I am not going to just rent her a backdrop. But that’s because I have now set clear boundaries for myself and clear policies, and I’m not deviating from them.
Saying no to someone who isn’t the right fit for you and sending them on their way opens you up to the right fit. And I love this quote. I don’t know who said it. I’ve seen it in a couple groups lately. “Clients are like buses. There’s always another one coming.” And I don’t want you to ever feel like you can’t say no to somebody because you don’t know if there’s more work heading your way. That is a mindset block. And you’ve got to move past that. COVID-19 has seriously disrupted the wedding industry, amongst other industries, but I can only truly speak to the wedding industry. It has completely bamboozled how we operate our businesses and how leads come in and when my booking season starts and stops between the various seasons. And it’s scary to say no to somebody because we are in a period of time where sometimes we have to say yes because we need to put food on the table. But saying no to someone who isn’t the right fit, and sending them on their way does open you up to the right fit clients. So always remember that clients are like buses. There is always another one coming.
I want you to make it your mission to work with your people, your dream people. So I want you to make an oath with me right now. So I want you to raise your right hand and repeat after me. “I, say your first name, do solemnly swear that I will only work with people who are passionate, engaged, respectful, and all-around top-shelf people, people I like, people who inspire me, so help me God.” You need to attract clients you genuinely adore. Horrible people only no other horrible people. Crappy clients only no other crappy people. You will be stuck doing work you resent because you have to pay your bills when you accept a crappy client. It’s going to kill your mojo, your energy, your enthusiasm, your spirit, which will domino into your actual work in life. It will manifest frustration and negativity into your life and your business that will cause you to actually repel your dream clients. You will question your worth. If you don’t know your own value, no one else will either. So let’s talk about repelling those crappy clients.
Step one: Who are they? I actually want you to reverse-engineer your ideal dream client. List out all of their nightmare qualities. For example, doesn’t value my offering. Doesn’t adult well. Doesn’t value a signed contract. Doesn’t value boundaries. Emails at or texts at ungodly hours. Has unrealistic expectations. Does not value me as a human. Once you know who these horrible nightmare clients are, your mindset will shift, and your marketing messaging, your copy, will align with your ideal dream client and actually repel the crappy ones. I raised my own minimums again so that I could further repel the client I don’t want to work with. When you know who you don’t want to work with, you will have clear boundaries in your life and your business. When you focus and niche down to speak to your dream clients, your nightmare clients won’t get it. You will have successfully repelled them. So ask yourself, are you an order taker, or are you the expert? Are you competing on price and I hope, hope, hope, hope you’re not? Are you clear about your value, about your service, about your offerings? Are you a people pleaser? That’s where boundaries come in. And do you have a bad attitude about your clients? The only bad attitude I have about my clients is the three that caused me so much torture that I don’t want those type of clients ever again.
Being able to niche down and speak to your dream client, to know who they are, to know what their values are, to find the people that actually respect you, are passionate about similar things, and really understand you as a human and what it is that you are offering, and how it solves problems in their own lives, that’s your dream client. That’s who you want to be working for. And I’ve been in a group that I recently joined into, paid to join into, and what I find fascinating – because it’s targeting the ultra-luxury bride, the ultra-luxury client, and that this whole world fascinates me – but what I’ve learned is that somebody that really wants to work with you will go out of their way to hire you. Will go out of their way to make sure that they stay on your radar. And I’ve had that happen recently. And it’s been the best feeling ever. When I had a client reach out to me, and she actually is in El Paso, which is a nine-hour drive one way for me to take rentals to El Paso. And we emailed back and forth, and I was still having problems with my domain emails, not always making it to either a Yahoo account or a Gmail account. It was driving me nuts. It’s been this way for a while. I just switched over to my mail servers being a G Suite account through Google, and I was hoping that would fix a problem. And it looks like for the most part it has, which I am like jumping up and down on. I’ll give Google all my money. But she continued to follow up. When she didn’t hear from me, she continued to follow up because she wants to work with me. She wants me to bring rentals to her. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t responding. She legitimately was not receiving my emails. They were either landing in spam or not getting to her at all. And that is the client I want to work with. It wasn’t because I was ignoring her. I was responding within 24 hours of her emails, but they weren’t getting to her. And because she wants to work with me, and I have the things she wants to purchase or rent, she continued to reach out. And I’ve had that same instance happen a few more times since COVID. And I’m like, wow, am I finally, is my marketing finally speaking to the client I actually want to be working with? And I think I’m really close. I think we’re always a work in progress. We’re always fine-tuning, or we should be fine-tuning all of that. But that makes me feel so good to be sought after to that level. And it goes against everything I know, to not follow up with somebody, but in the luxury market, if somebody goes to you, obviously that doesn’t, they weren’t meant to be your client, but you shouldn’t go salivating after them either. So if you send a proposal back to somebody and they don’t respond, it’s that client/bus scenario. Another bus will come. They always do. So don’t be discouraged. And I want you to keep practicing on niching down into your craft, into your service, into your offerings so that you are attracting your dream client and you’re repelling the crappy ones.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. Again, shout out to the Inner Circle members. You know you want to be one of them. Pop over to bossgirlcreative.com/innercircle to gain access because you are missing out if you’re not in there. And yeah, until next week, I do hope you have a great week. And I will be back with another episode to teach you all about how to run an amazing business that makes sense for you and your life. Because we are all unconventional unicorns around here. Remember? I’m leaning in hard into that. We are all unconventional unicorns.