Freeloaders Need Not Apply
This will be a pretty short post, compared to the previous entries in this series.
Last week, we mentioned that there are such things as bad money and, particularly, bad customers. The worst kind of customers we call “freeloaders“. These are the type who will engage your services knowing full well they can’t – or won’t – pay you or, if they do pay, it’s usually late and after they’ve been very demanding and aggravating.
Shut these bums down at the door! It’s best not to let these jokers get past the proposal stage… once they’re on your customer list, they’re not only annoying, they can actually lose you money and business. Learn to spot and filter out this type of client, who will have you chasing them for your payment and pulling out your hair.
It’s payment for services rendered
Make sure you set the terms of agreement clearly, right from the start. That would be before you do anything other than have a meeting or a phone call to consider doing business with them; well before you even consider preparing a written proposal, or sending them an estimate. You’ve got to be sure you make it absolutely clear: you are a professional, providing value and quality service.
When it comes time for you to get paid, it’s not negotiable – you’re not asking for a loan, requesting a favor or “imposing on them “. Don’t let them guilt you into accepting excuses for delayed payment, or start throwing shade on your work in an attempt to justify reduced payment. Be in constant communication with your customers and clients as the work is being performed. Always check in to “take the temperature“, and whenever possible, get it in writing – emails and text messages are best for this.
Keep it light and cordial, but always remember: you’re preparing a “paper trail” of acceptance and satisfaction with the work in progress to shut down any sudden complaints and criticism after the work is done… the sudden appearance of these quibbles is one sure sign that you’ve got a freeloader on your hands
Get it in writing
These types always want a handshake deal and a verbal agreement. And watch out for these grifters — they’ll usually come at you with charm and charisma, insisting that you’re just “little guys, all in it together“, all “looking out for each other“. Meanwhile, they’re just looking out for themselves, trying to create weasel-room so they can hide in the shadows of “well, I don’t remember it that way” and “it’s your word against mine“.
As we mentioned in part one of this series, you MUST get a signed agreement before you commit to doing ANY work. With a good customer, a contract eliminates uncertainty, defines responsibility and establishes the schedule of payment. With these freeloaders, the mention of signing a contract is like citronella to a mosquito – Bye, Felicia!
Get a down payment
This is the second part of the “no-pest strip one-two punch” freeloader eliminator. The huckster, the hustler, the shyster, the scammer will NOT put up any cash before attempting to scam you of your hard work and effort. In fact, the very same flim-flam, back pedaling and excuses that you will here when it comes time to get paid – if you allow these freeloaders through the door – will show up here. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they transform from boasting, strutting, confident mavens to stammering, flummoxed, simpering dolts once you mention “the down payment for that will be…“
As mentioned in part one of this series, by the time you’ve met, evaluated the situation and submitted a proposal, you’ve ALREADY DONE WORK. If they aren’t willing to put some skin in the game, they’re not serious about engaging your services (always remember: they are NOT HIRING YOU ), and are likely going to try to haggle your price down, or beat you for payment entirely.
Be polite, but firm. Let them know that this is the way you do business – they can choose or refuse to do business with you, but those are the only options available. YOU set the terms, NOT your customers.
Don’t be afraid to show freeloaders the door… the little bit of money you think you’ll lose is nothing compared to the time and effort you’ll waste dealing with them. And in the long run, it’s better that you watch a freeloader walking out the door than watching the marshals put a padlock ON your door… as they shut down your business due to freeloader overload…!