You know those clients who call ten times a day and email even more? What do you do when they push every button and consume way more time than you can provide without losing your mind? I bet most of us have dealt with clients like these and if you haven’t, be very thankful.
Here are five tips for keeping those clients under control without losing your patience or your mind:
1. Set the expectations about your workload and response times. If you haven’t established office hours and have been responding to high maintenance clients at all hours of the night, this has to stop immediately. Unless their wedding venue is burning down and the wedding is this week, there is nothing so urgent in wedding planning that can’t wait until the next day.
2. Setup a weekly phone call to address all of your client’s questions and needs. This is especially helpful if your high maintenance clients like to call you. Also, don’t be afraid to let their calls go to voicemail if you are working on other tasks when they call. If the client’s event is still a long way off, a monthly call may make more sense than a weekly call until you are closer to the event date. We all strive to provide great service but also have to make sure we aren’t taking time away from other clients. Scheduling a weekly phone call where they can ask all of their questions and you can provide immediate answers will help you manage the planning process, make your clients happy and keep your sanity.
3. Create a new folder in your email to save all of your client’s emails and requests. Then let your clients know that you have received their emails and will be responding to all of them on a certain day. You can also set a day each week when you will send a summary email to those clients which answers all of the emails that have come in that week.Then let them know how you will be responding in the future such as a weekly recap email or by scheduling a weekly phone call where they can ask all of their questions and you can provide immediate answers (see #2 above).
4. Have a clear way out. If you book high maintenance clients and just can’t handle them anymore, you want to have an easy way out. Your wedding planner contract should clearly state what happens if either you or the client would like to terminate the contract for any reason. Be sure this includes what happens with final payments. In the end, it’s your choice. If you try your best to secure this relationship and it just will not work, it’s in your best interest to “fire” these clients well before everything gets worse and long enough before their event that they can hire another event planner. Keep in mind that when you do the firing, you should do it without pointing the finger of blame at the client. Do not make the client feel like it is their fault. The fine line you must walk here also requires you to avoid blaming yourself. Sometimes it’s simply a mismatch of personalities.
5. If you set the precedent that clients can push you around, they will. Believe me, you do not want this. If those clients always have the upper hand, they will use it, and you will be miserable until their event is over. Instead, make sure the client knows that you are in control and you understand what needs to be done to ensure their event is being planned professionally. This require confidence in your skills and knowledge as a professional planner. If you don’t feel strong enough to keep control, you may want to work on smaller events or parties until you have the confidence to stand your ground with larger events and with weddings.
The unfortunate reality is that there are only so many clients out there, and some of those clients are not worth dealing with. Clients who bring about the most headaches must be treated differently from those who do not. The decision to keep working with them is yours. If you decide to terminate that relationship, make sure you do so with caution and help your clients move on by giving them all of the current information, contracts and notes you have for their event. You may even want to recommend other event planners who may be a better fit. Your fate and your sanity is in your own hands. Treat them both carefully.
Do you have to work with a lot of high maintenance clients? What strategies do you use to maintain healthy boundaries?