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How to Manage the Micro-Managing Client

Posted: July 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business | No Comments »

How to Manage the Micro-Managing Client

“Our hourly rate is $100 per hour,

If you wish to help or stand and watch, our hourly rate is $500 an hour.”

We can learn something from this sign displayed by an auto repair shop. Some clients want to micro-manage all of the projects they “turn over.” The problem is, it makes you less efficient, less effective and it can be more hassle than it’s worth. The client has a right to expect quality work and you should work hard to achieve customer satisfaction. There’s a fine line though between achieving customer satisfaction and being controlled, and you will lose money often if you don’t make that distinction.

Set Boundaries

Decide how you want to work and don’t stray from that. If you want to work virtually, in your office and without direct client contact, then don’t budge. The rates you set should not be based on the fact that you don’t have to travel to an office space or lease one for clients to see you. If you agree to see clients and allow them to constantly look over your shoulder, then you’re losing money on the deal. You should set boundaries with your clients. Let them know that you charge competitive rates because you work remotely. If they don’t want that, then move on. That’s tough to say when the economy is bad, but if you’re not willing to set boundaries you must be willing to increase your rates.

Set High Rates

The point that the repair shop is making is that you get what you pay for. If a client wants to control what you’re doing or learn what you do, and then go off and do the work on his own, then he should pay a much higher rate. You should double your rate at the very least if you’re not willing to give up that client. One of two things will happen: Your client will not want to pay the higher rate and leave, or will get the point and accept your work style. Each situation is different, so you’ll have to decide whether to accept a client walking away because you take a stand. Like you, most clients will want to save costs and go for the cheaper rate for the same work.

Communicate Often

A client often feels a need to control the situation when there’s a communication breakdown. It’s often a panic reaction, and the client feels more secure if they can dictate the terms and micro-manage you as a contractor. You can prevent that feeling of insecurity and the negative reaction to it by communicating with your clients often.  Decide on the best communication method for your clients and use it. If it’s a phone call, don’t be afraid to pick it up weekly or more often to give updates. If they love emails, send them informative ones and attach samples of your work as needed. Be authentic and transparent in your communications to put them at ease. It will go a long way to diminish any desire they have to take control of the situation.

The best way to handle overbearing clients is to take these preventative measures. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never face a client who wants to look over your shoulder, but following these rules will empower you to stay or walk away.

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