Smackdown: Graphic Designers vs. Clients - Part II
"A client gave us assurances that when his business increased he would definitely compensate us properly for services rendered. We made a decision to do some work for him on spec and crossed our fingers that his word was good.
"We provided crucial content for his website and his business did increase, just as he predicted.
"We approached him for payment for our design work and he said he would devise a pay schedule for us in a week."
What happened? See the conclusion of this story at the end of this article. (Names and certain circumstances have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.)
The Price Is Right/Wrong?
If you've been in the design industry for any length of time you've probably heard many of the reasons why a client only has "a limited budget" for the project. But let's turn this around a bit.
What if someone needed surgery and told the surgeon that he would pay the operation out of pocket but had only set aside a certain amount for the operation? Would the surgeon take the job?
View this video and see if anything sounds familiar to you:
When you enter negotiations with a perspective client it takes a firm hand and some good insight regarding the character of the customer you are dealing with.
Ken Eikenberry, an organization/business consultant, gives some advice on client-vendor relationships.
"When we ask questions we understand situations better. Take the time, make the time to ask your client how she feels, what she thinks, and try to understand her observations regarding the progress of the project and your performance."
If a client demands the moon but only wants to pay dirt cheap prices you may have to think twice about taking him on as a customer. Ask yourself this question "Is it worth the time, effort, and expense to keep this client happy?"
If the initial meetings are filled with talk of budget constraints on the client's part rather than the creative aspect of the project, this may be a red flag indicating that there may be trouble ahead.
Graphic design schools help to simulate these conditions through the projects you are assigned, how you relate with your teachers (clients), and the grading of your work.
Graphic design colleges not only provide the needed education to become a graphic designer, they help you to cope with the pressures of design deadlines and project expectations.
In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash
In the beginning of this article a graphic designer described a "cheap" client promising to pay for design services once his business was more successful. Here's what happened.
"After several months of spec work and his business starting to take off we approached him to fulfill his promise to pay us. Since there was no written contract (our big mistake) he decided he didn't want to pay us after all.
"We were devastated. It wasn't the money owed as much as how we were so naïve in believing this customer. We should have followed our initial instincts to be more careful.
"Of course not all clients are crooks, but the event has made us more aware about getting everything in writing and being more careful when customers want things done for free or at cut-rate prices."
Graphic designers sometimes feel like Rodney when dealing with clients. Next time we meet we'll see what sorts of steps designers can take to boost morale. Here's a hint: Use the word "no" more often.
Until then, keep on designing!