September 24, 2021
Nope—if ignored, that little baby can explode into many! Before you know it you’ll have little red flags all over the place!
We’ve all been there, taking on a red-flag client and not listening to our intuition. Instead saying to ourselves “who am I to turn down work?”
But then, ultimately ending up resenting the work or the client, or worse—yourself.
— Clients who cancel meetings more than once
— When clients are repeatedly late and careless with your time
— You cannot extract a clear brief, clients are vague and wishy washy
— A potential client’s values are clearly not aligned with yours
— You are asked, “could just whip this up for me?” (We don’t whip, we’re professionals, people!!)
— When you are provided a sketch and asked if you can turn it into a logo!
— When a client wants all designs provided as .docx
— When a client doesn’t follow your professional process and they keep going rogue!
— It’s your first project with a new client and its a super-tight deadline out of the gate
— When you are asked to discount your work in exchange for ‘exposure’
— You are asked to present multiple ideas for clients to pick from
So listen up beautiful designers and if a little red flag pops up for you with a prospective client make sure you have some very clear boundaries in place to deal with them.
You are so worthy of doing the work you love with people who love, trust and respect you.
[00:00:00] Kris: Hello everybody
[00:00:01] Donna: Hello
[00:00:04] Kris: Here we are again.
[00:00:05] Donna: to talk about something that’s very, very close to our hearts. We’re talking about little red flags, those
[00:00:13] Kris: Red flags.
[00:00:15] Donna: that popup. And speak directly to our gut. And sometimes we have the balance and we’re strong and we can spot them and we can listen to them. And other times we’re like, oh, one little red flag. We can, we can work with that, right? No. Because those little things they can explode, they can become more and more and more before, you know, it you’ll have little red flags all over the place.
[00:00:45] Kris: Yeah. Well, the big red flags are easy to spot aren’t they, it’s a little red flags that are a trickier. So that’s what we want to make sure that we’re not completely saying, go away client. You’re a little red flag. I don’t want to deal with you, but yeah, we need to just keep an eye out on them. Keep a watch out for them and make sure that these little red flags aren’t going to really compromise the project and make you feel awful doing the project as well.
[00:01:14] Donna: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:01:15] Kris: And just a little heads up next podcast. We’re going to be talking about boundaries that relate to these red flags. So we’re really just going to talk about them so that you can get a sense of awareness about them today. What are little red flags to watch out for? We’ve all been there. We all have been there where we haven’t really listened. We’ve seen the red flag, we’ve ignored the red flag. We haven’t listened to our intuition. We haven’t listened to our gut. And you know, depending on your circumstances, that feeling of, well, who am I to turn down work because there’s a red flag? But we don’t have to turn down the work. There’s ways of working with tricky people, tricky situations. Always there always is a way. Yes.
[00:02:01] Donna: Boundaries are the key. And we’ll talk about that. Like, like Kris said before, we’re going to be talking about boundaries in a bit of a series because boundaries can be interwoven throughout your whole business from that initial touch point right off to the project launch right through to the very, very end. So that’s how you can manage these little red flags and still get to work with these clients.
[00:02:24] Kris: So the first step is awareness. So being aware of the potential red flags, especially if you are new in business and you haven’t been doing graphic design business for that long. It can be tricky to pick up on the signals. So we’ll alert you to some of them today.
[00:02:39] Donna: Yeah, absolutely. Because you are so worthy of doing the work that you love with people who love trust and respect you. So you need to be able to be really clear on who you’ll work with and in what circumstances you will work with them and how you will work. So let’s get into it, Kris.
[00:02:57] Kris: All right. So some ways that little red flags might be showing up in your business and you might’ve already had some of these, but didn’t even realize, oh, that was a red flag. I should have really watched out for that.
[00:03:09] Donna: Okay. So the first one on our list is that client that is always canceling meetings on you. They’re not showing up or they’re postponing. And that it started out with the first meeting and then you’re like, that’s okay. We’ll we’ll we shuffle we’ll reschedule. Then it’s the next and potentially the next. And before you know it, this schedule that you’ve set for your week, at the beginning of your week is getting blown out and blown out into the next week, into the next week. So those missed meetings on repeat are definitely a little red flag to watch out for.
[00:03:42] Kris: Yeah, one little missed meeting isn’t necessarily a red flag because we all make mistakes and we all mess up or get our schedules mixed up. But when it’s happening on repeat, that’s when it becomes a red flag.
[00:03:55] Donna: Yes. I think repeat is going to be the key for a lot of these things. When things happen more than once, you can forgive it once can’t you, but when it happens again and again, that’s when you go, okay, I’m going to catch that. I’m really paying attention. I don’t want that happening on repeat.
[00:04:13] Kris: Yes. And this next point is tied to this a little bit. They’re a client who is late and careless with your time. Because your time is really valuable. And so is theirs.
[00:04:25] Donna: Yes, late and careless with your time. And like we said we’ve all been late. We’ve all missed a meeting, things that happen once are forgivable, but it’s watching out for when it’s happening again and again, and that little bit of respect has been eroded around your time. So they’re not really valuing your time and it works both ways. You can’t be the red flag for your clients either. So we’ve got to be making sure that you’re being respected in that project management, time management part of your business. So that’s a big one.
[00:04:56] Kris: Yeah. They’re taking liberties with your time.
[00:04:58] Donna: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
[00:05:00] Kris: Another one.
[00:05:01] Donna: Yes.
[00:05:02] Kris: So this can be a bit of a red flag when they’re giving you a very vague and wishy-washy brief. Now it’s your role as a designer to extract a really clear, succinct brief from the client. But if you’ve got a client that’s really resistant, who just isn’t showing up, who isn’t showing up fully to answer the questions that you ask of them, who perhaps won’t even take a meeting to get those questions answered, or just answers them in a form very briefly, very, haphazardly, even, you know, skipping questions, glossing over things. That can be a bit of a red flag.
[00:05:43] Donna: Definitely because it’s a bit of a confused mind that we’re dealing with there or they’re vague and the way that they’re evading the answers means that they are wanting to keep that open. I don’t know the answers that I’ll know it when I see it and we can’t have clients who sort of adopt that mentality of, I’m not going to commit to anything now we’ll just see how it goes, because when you deliver that design solution, there could be a really big misalignment.
[00:06:12] Kris: Yeah, we really need to nut it out with the client, don’t we? We need to make sure that brief is really watertight.
[00:06:19] Donna: Absolutely. So another one is, I think this could border on a big red flag, kris. This one that we’ve got here is when the client’s values are not aligned with your values. Now, if they’re clearly not aligned with your values, that would be a big red flag. But if there’s a little element of ambiguity where it’s like little things pop up and you go, ooh, there’s a misalignment in our values there. That might be a little red flag, something to really, really look for, because in all honesty, if our values aren’t aligned, we’re probably not going to be operating in integrity, which is really important to Kris and I it’s one of our values for our business, and, and I think that that’s when that could be really dangerous to continue a working relationship when we don’t have that, that alignment. So yeah, it might be a bigger red flag than we than we think, but it could come across in little ways. So just be mindful of that.
[00:07:15] Kris: Oh, that one could actually be a situation where it’s a kind decline or you decide to refer them to somebody else, because you might say that the project is not in alignment with the kind of work you’re doing currently, or it’s not a good fit for the business, but that one is a big one. And so, in order to know if their values are aligned with yours or not, you really need to know your values too. So they’re just a little side note there. You need to know your values.
[00:07:42] Donna: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Another one, this is possibly my biggest little red flag. It is a little, um, and, and you can forgive clients for saying this because they don’t understand the process. But what they say is things like, would you mind just whipping this up for me? If you could just whip it up. Just, just, just this little thing. It won’t take you long. My response to that is, we don’t whip. We don’t whip anything here and I am a professional and I have a process and here is my process. And here are my fees and here’s how our work, and this is when I can fit you in. So this is where you need to come in and educate and set boundaries. So all of these beautiful little boundary setting stepping stones that you would take to reign that particular red flag in.
[00:08:31] Kris: Yes, no whipping up, people.
[00:08:34] Donna: No, you are professionals and you deserve to be treated like one.
[00:08:39] Kris: It devalues your service. Hmm. All right. So this is kind of similar this next point, which is when the client comes along or a potential client comes along and they say, can you please turn the sketch into a logo? Well, they might have something whipped up in word. Oh, designer’s dream, right?
[00:09:00] Donna: Woohoo! Let me at it! I’d love to! Yeah, no. That’s not going to happen. So that also is a little bit bigger than a little red flag. It could be a medium sized red flag, but again, that’s something that we can educate our clients on. We can actually say, okay, well, that’s not how I work. This is how I work. This is my process. This is how I can transform your business and provide a logo. So don’t discard completely just work out ways that you can really tell the story of your process and help your clients bridge that gap and help your clients understand the level of professionalism that you do offer. So, yeah, that’s one to definitely watch out for.
[00:09:44] Kris: You might have a client with a creative heart who is really excited and they’re just jumping the gun and getting ahead of the process. It’s about education as Don said. And I did mention word before. I did mention word Microsoft word.
[00:09:59] Donna: Yes,
[00:10:01] Kris: This is a little red flag if the client asks for all designs to be provided as word documents, it’s a designer’s least favorite thing to do. I think it’s one of the least favorite things for designers to do. And there’s a reason for it because it compromises the integrity of the design solution. So it’s a bit of a red flag when the client isn’t seeing the importance of keeping the design elements, intact, maintaining the integrity of the solution across all platforms and across all mediums. That’s really important. And once again, it’s education.
[00:10:42] Donna: Beautifully said, Kris, that’s exactly right. Okay. So the next one is where you have a client that refuses to follow your professional process. And they keep going rogue. I mean, I’m guilty of going rogue here and there on different things, but never at the detriment of someone else’s process. It’s usually my process that I go rouge on, don’t, I don’t go rogue when I am paying a professional to do something for me and I feel that whenever that is happening, they don’t really understand the importance of the process at hand and, and your process and how you are working. So again, educate, but be mindful, listen out for that little red flag and just keep reigning the client in with boundaries as best as you possibly can. But if, again, if it’s happening on repeat and they keep going rogue and you can’t get them to work within the parameters of how you are wanting to run your business. Remember, it’s your business, your way. You have every right to say farewell to that particular client. If, if you can’t reign them in.
[00:11:48] Kris: Yeah, and it could be something like they haven’t paid the deposit yet. They might’ve signed the contract, but they haven’t paid the deposit. And they’re talking to you as if the job is a go, they’re talking to you as if it’s all full steam ahead. And they’re thinking that the deadline is still going to be happening and all the rest of it, or they might be bringing forward deadlines or changing things around. So that’s when they’re going a bit rogue and they’re not following the process that you’ve set out and we hope you have a really good process set out for the clients to follow.
All right. Next one. Ah, this is a bit of a tricky one. So you’ve got this dream client, right? They’ve knocked on your door and they’ve reached out to you and they want to work with you and they have a super tight deadline. This is a red flag. Be really careful about these ones because they can be really exciting and then you can get swept up in it. But first projects need to have the time allocated to them, to fully unpack, to fully conceptualize, to fully understand the strategic direction of the brand. There’s so many aspects. It does take time in a lot of cases .
[00:12:54] Donna: Absolutely. And the other reason that first projects are very, very important in the way that you work is they set a preset. There’ll be setting a precedent with that client on how you work. So if you cut corners from the get-go, they’ll be like, oh, that design is going to be perfectly fine without I can drop things on them at last minute, I can just get things to them at the 11th hour. They’ll work through the weekend. Yep. I know they’ve already done it for me once. They’ll do it again. So remember every touch point you are only as good as your last touch point. So you are setting a precedent in that very first exchange, that very first project. So just pop the brakes on, say, yes, I can do that for you. If it is a genuinely tight, tight deadline, and you’d love to do it because like Kris said, it’s that dream job then say, yes, you can do it, but you have rush fees in place. And even though you’d love to just be able to slot them into your week, you can’t. You can do it by working over time or over a weekend. And that will incur a rush fee. Are they still happy to proceed otherwise the first time that you can pop them in and then let them know when you can pop them into your schedule. So, it’s important set the foundations to how the work relationship is going to evolve with that very first project. So be mindful of that.
[00:14:14] Kris: Yeah. Depending on how that unfolds, it might mean that you don’t take on that project, which may feel scary, but those kinds of tight deadlines for first project can end up going pear shaped and it just sours everything. And I love what you’re saying there Don about how it sets a precedent. It really does set a precedent.
All right. Another one. Requesting a discount in exchange for exposure.
[00:14:41] Donna: Oh, I love that. Don’t we love that. Oh, won’t you get so much exposure if you do this for me? Fabulous. Yes. Let me at it. wait to do it.
Okay. We’ve got one more. So they ask you to present multiple ideas. And by now, you know that we are absolute believers in the single concept presentation. So for us, multiple ideas to pick from is a red flag that we were like, no, again, we educate and get them to trust in our process, get them to understand how we work and what we are prepared to deliver. So we’re not ebbing and swaying and bending backwards for clients and their expectations. Their expectations might be based on limited understanding of what happens in the design industry. Certainly limited understanding on what happens in your business. So it’s all about that boundary setting and that education, which Kris and I can’t wait to dive into our boundary setting series, coming out very soon. So you can take them on, but be very, very clear about what it is you’re doing and how you’re working.
[00:15:46] Kris: Hmm, you might think it’s a reasonable request, but if a client does mention it from the get-go, it is a red flag because it means from the get go, they’re not confident in what you’re going to deliver. They’re not confident in who you are as a designer. So it’s a bit of a red flag and it could unfurl in a really unpleasant way. And if you saw the way that Donna and I present work, you would understand why only one concept is required. You really only need to present one concept to a client because it is the answer.
[00:16:20] Donna: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So that brings us to the end of our list. There’s a whole heap more I’m sure. And there’s a whole heap more for you as an individual, as you’re out there, listening to this going well, this is a big red flag for me or a little red flag for me. We want you to add an expand to this list. Awareness is the key. Awareness is the beginning of being able to catch them to feel it in your gut and to know what you need to do with them to know what level of education needs to come. In order to reign the client in to set the right boundary. But awareness is the very, very first step.
[00:16:54] Kris: Yep. That’s it. Get aware, start noticing that feeling and your gut. It’s like,
[00:16:59] Donna: yep.
[00:16:59] Kris: That was a bit odd.
[00:17:00] Donna: Don’t like that.
[00:17:01] Kris: Start taking notice.
[00:17:03] Donna: Yes. Yeah.
[00:17:04] Kris: All right.
[00:17:05] Donna: We hope that has helped and added to your red flag repertoire. Watch out for their next podcast. It’ll be all about boundaries to help you combat these.
[00:17:14] Kris: Okay.
Have a beautiful day, everybody. Bye.
[00:17:18] Donna: Bye.
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