Enough is enough! When a Graphic Designer needs to Fire a Customer


At what point do you decide the time is right to fire a toxic customer? How do you know when enough is enough?

Is it when they’ve royally pis*ed you off beyond repair? 
Is it when they continually believe they know (and can do) your job better than you? 

It’s a tricky balance when it comes to difficult clients, because let’s face it, being an as*hole isn’t a crime (unfortunately).

On this episode of The Angry Designer Podcast, the bearded bears rant about a topic that no one wants to ever come to terms with; when it’s time to fire a customer and how to call that professional partnership a day.

  • In this episode, you will learn
  • when it’s time to end  the relationship or put up with it
  • the types of toxic customers to fire
  • things to consider before you do
  • how to fire a customer – the nice way

There are times in a Graphic Designers career when to discard and move on from continually being berated by toxic customers – this episode will hopefully help you identify those times.

Episode Transcript


I'll never understand being in this business for as long as I have, why everybody thinks that they could do this right. 


Here. Right? You don't know. 


Why nobody would tell a doctor, how did. 


Oh, doctor, the way you're stitching there, you kind of poke up around, do different kinds of stitch, do a zipper method, not the crossover. Please. Let me just show you. Let me just show you these. Where'd you go to school just so I took a biology class, 


Community college. I dissected a frog. I think I know what this is all about. 


You're listening to designer where we cut through the industry down frustrated graphic designers survive and thrive. 


Eighties were awesome. 


Don't even get me started. 


The tunes, 


Man. That was great. That today was eighties here at the office, right? Yeah, it was actually cool. It was refreshing something different. Yes. Don't get me wrong. Yeah. I love the drum and bass. I love, I love the five specific kinds of when you're like in an ass kicking mood, s**t done. Right. And then otherwise lo-fi is pretty good. You know, Christmas time, Christmas, blah. I don't know where that is. Conversation. I think it's cause we talked about it last year. I think the whole we're talking a whole of an era. That was this. 


It was, it was really good. You don't the funny thing with that is like you got the, were pretty chill. So you got the drum. I mean, you got the low-fi chill stuff, 


Going really good clients and. 


Things we do. Right. You know what I mean? So, and the drum and bass is for that specific, you. 


Know, holy s**t. Yeah. We, 


We really got some, but the eighties, 


It was something really cool and magical about the eighties. It's still transcends. One thing that's cool is eighties trends are slowly coming back. Right? Exactly. I can totally appreciate that. It was just, everybody just seemed to get along and it was just, it seemed simpler, but still really, it was like so far, it was a pre 2000 twenties. Yeah. Right. Or 2000 teens. Right. Because the eighties, they thought that were a lot more technical than it really was back then. Like, VHS came in, he was just like, dude, the future's here. Look at her futuristic clothing. Even like that whole Memphis style was so futuristic. Oh my gosh. Now we're actually living the future kind of sucks. Sucks. Kind of sucks with all the pressures of everything that we have now. Social. Oh man. 


Oh, tell me about it. Oh my God. I did not foresee that back. 


Right. Like between that and wagon, like just nothing, just everything changed. Like we thought were really advanced back then. We had no clue. We beginning right now. Not even close, not even close and think that's the challenge now that everybody's facing. Cause it's just like, when's this going to end. Right. You try to navigate these giant projects and these to, I mean, because again, we're dealing with tech on a regular basis, right? Like web technologies are so complicated now they shouldn't be, and they should be getting easier. Now when you start layering in animations and the Googled never f*****g makes up, its mind wants to do with their damn algorithms. You're constantly Google switching and modifying and now Google's like, oh, well you was at the, let's make a better user experience and make your website load even faster than it did before. Like, I was like, geez, how fast? 


Yeah. It's, it's hard enough to navigate this. The problem is it's like you put these things in place, you put processes in place to help you navigate this. Right. You got your checklist then, if you're launching a site, you've got to follow these checklists. Right. You got to make sure you hit your protocols. You try to put this. Like, we always tell anybody, try to put these processes in place. Yeah. You still get people who don't believe in this s**t. It's even worse when it's customers who don't want to follow processes. Like right now we're going through f*****g nightmare. It's just a nightmare. Cause we're, we're trying to launch a website for our customer. Right. We have given them our process. We've laid out our process. Not once, not twice, like several times over the past two years to launch the site. Oh my God. 


And, and I'm sure you hear it throughout the office. Like, it's just, it's it doesn't directly affect you, but everybody else that's on that web team. It's like, okay, well then your deadline for all your content and all changes is November 1st comes goes, they're still not, it's still not for December 1st. Still comes. It goes not really. We're given. They're like, well, can you just give us a timeline? I work back schedule make we provide the word back. We're like, look, we need really re weeks for QA. Absolutely. This is what we say three weeks between making sure all the contents in place, transferring over the old content to the new, making sure all the meta-tags are in place. The site tag, the page titles, just going through our giant checklist, right? Yeah. Three weeks. Nope. Don't get three weeks. Two weeks. No, not like dudes. 


You want this to launch on this date and you're not even giving us a week then they're like, okay, well we'll give you the week. Can we still edit it while you're doing QA? I have I've never been in an experience like this, like, cause it's, it sucks because again, we're niche. Our company's very niche. It's, we're in a situation where it's like if this goes sideways. Yeah. Right. It's always the AGC. It's always the agency's fault. It's never the client. We have gone to the wall like balls to the wall, trying to make this happen. They're just fighting because they want to follow their processes, which out of nowhere, this isn't what they signed on the sow. We're so far into this. Again, this there's so much at play here. Right? Our, our reputation, in the industry, amongst the people that we're dealing with. 


Right. Cause in the end it comes down to the agents and that's what sucks. 


How do when is the, where's the line in the sand? When is it time to maybe fire a class? 


Well, I mean topical, right? Cause that's exactly what we're here to talk about. That s**t, dude. It's like, it's tough. Like we're okay. Obviously in this case, we're kind of jammed because this has been a long-term customer. Yep. Right? Yep. And, and they viewed us always as an expert and they took what we said, but at somewhere along the lines, they brought somebody else in who they didn't view us as the expert because they felt that their experience was superseded ours. Right. Reality is it's not the case. Right. It's totally not the case. No, sorry. It's not the case. We've realized their expertise wafer thin. Okay. I think that, like that time to consider firing a customer is when you're not viewed as the expert and expert, we had this situation with another customer way back and the one viewed us as an expert hired us, but then somebody else he brought in didn't view us as it. 


They wanted to do things their way. It's just like, whoa, like, hold up. You know? 


Yeah. In this scenario, we're just the tool. 


Well, I mean, I don't know, which is not good. This city don't want the bad scenario. This one's gone too far. I generally think that, the time to consider firing a customer, ultimately is when you don't hold that expert status. Right. Right. Because then like, I mean, ideally the best relationships that we have with our customers is when we're the experts, right. They come to us, they ask us, they're like, Hey, what do you think? Hey, we're in a problem. What's the situation, how do we get this to work? Sure enough, after doing this, as long as we have Connor, know what they're doing. So it's annoying as hell. Whether it be brand, whether it be, a simple website fix or something, even SEO wise, it's like, we've got that expertise. And you know, they respect that. When they lose that respect or they feel that they have the upper hand or they're the expert, they just don't say that. 


I mean, dude, what are you doing then? That's yeah, exactly. And that sucks. That goes across the board. Like, that literally, regardless if it's a logo design, regardless of it's brochure, right. Like people hire us as experts. If we don't have that, if they don't believe that we're just not there. What's the point. It doesn't mean that we're wrong in the industry. Yeah. Right. Cause it does play with your mind for a little while and it has played with our minds. Yeah. Yeah. It kind of blows in that sense. I'm like it's kind of a weird in between a rock and a hard place right now really sucks. 


It's just tricky. Yeah. It's like waiting for a bus to right. The bus is 15 minutes late. The bus could be 15 minutes longer. Yes. The bus could come in five minutes. This client could come around and say, Hey, what, f**k this, you guys are the expert. I'm going to leave it to you or this. 


Well, I mean, it's like, it's been a struggle the entire time. Yeah. Since the new person has come in. Right. We've always had struggles with the odd what the outgoing, because the outgoing was just, they could just could never get their stuff together in order to get this to launch. Right. They brought in someone new to help get this site launch. Right. Hey, our site has been built already for the past six, eight months. It's just been collecting all the content. Right. So, so that's the frustrating part. Like from day one at first, I was being viewed as being difficult. 


Okay. I shouldn't laugh that hard because that's not true. I'm laughing because it's just not true. 


Okay. Fair enough. Right. Because I think of anything, I am way too much of a people pleaser. This was a situation where it was like, look, we've been down this road, you've come into a project late in the game. You haven't been privy to, the information architecture that was discussed. You haven't been privy to the wireframe to discuss the user experience, the content, the delivery, the, the content management system, they weren't privy to any of these conversations. They're coming in at the 11th hour, wanting everything changed their way. I'm being viewed as difficult. I'm like, dude, like we're almost done. We're just waiting for content. Yeah, dude, this is just, this is a tough place. And. 


It's so funny. Cause I was find that somebody, something like that, if you're coming into a new position, I try, that's going to take a tangent and go on a ranting. If you're got, if you're coming in on something like that, wouldn't you trust the expert. You just like, Hey, bring me up to speed. I know you guys have done this. Here's an example of the work that you've done. Right? Exactly. It's just like, why wouldn't you use that experience? And then you look like the f*****g, 


I know because they're coming in and actually finishing it off. 


We were hired to do all. It would take, it would take some counterintuitive, but they got to put their stuff. 


Well. I mean, their stamp has been nothing, but, and it's like, you try to be reasonable and this and that. Here's the problem I have given in against, better judgment against other people here saying, don't do it. Don't do it. I'm like, you know what? I can't fight with these people anymore. It's just fine. Let's do it your way. Let's do it. Well now we're literally like T minus one wing to launch. It's nowhere ready. We're doing QA, we're doing a fractional, QA, other like a, just a fraction of what we normally do, going to launch in a site. That's not up to our standards yet. The thing is, I don't know, what's worse. Yeah. Missing a launch date altogether and having the whole world being like what's going on down there. Or, I mean, either way you really are. So we pared back the site. 


We're like, look, if you absolutely have, this is this it, hasn't got it. And they're still fighting us. They are still fighting. I know it's kind of, this is a unique situation, right? It's like, how do you fire him? Well, we can't fire him of course, because of, the job's not done. Yeah. This would be, that would be suicide. That would be, that would be industry suicide. And we can't do that. Fair enough. We have to see through it. And, and in all fairness we have to do, and it is everybody's rallied together. We're trying to get this done as best as possible. So be it right. We're going to do what we got to do in this space. Yeah. On a good note, we haven't experienced that, know how to actually make this s**t happen. Exactly. Right. It's not going to have everything they want. 


They're kicking and screaming and crying over the whole thing. At the same time, it's like, no. You had your chance. The fact, the past five deadlines I gave you still didn't meet. Didn't meet them now. It's our turn. Let us do what we gotta do. And here you go. Do whatever the hell you want. Right. It is good in this kind of scenario to maybe step up harder, push back, dude. Well, we have different. It is difficult, especially for me because I am genuinely, you will please. This is exactly it. I mean, right. Honestly, I'm not even that confrontational rented. I, raise my voice and this, and I don't because I'm Italian, damn it that's the curse of being Italian. Like again, when it comes to the customer, I'm always trying to help find a solution. Yes. This is a case where it's just like, wow. 


For whatever reason, these people think I'm the devil and I'm the difficult. It's like, you're a designer, so you don't want to be pegged as being the designer. That's the last thing, it doesn't this, again, this has never happened. We've had difficult clients. Yes, yes. We've had pain in the ass customers. That's for sure. And we've also had annoying clients. Right. Being annoying client, isn't a fireable offense. It's certainly not. It's not like everybody's got annoying clients. Like we had wind, oh God, how many annoying? We've had a lot over the past, like 20, a couple more. A couple, we have one customer that would just drop do the came in on the dude. Just you remember, he would just randomly interrupt, talk to this person and when this, okay. I got to go back to work problem. Go to the next one. So what are you working on? 


He was like a sales rep. Wasn't well, no, but he did all that cause he was sales and marketing and it's just like, he would just come and he was always, every time he come by, he's like, ha, here he comes again. It's like, oh s**t. It was annoying as f**k, but they paid well and, and we tolerated that, right? Yeah. Not quite fireable. He did pull some fireboat firing type s**t later on, which did resolve. Really. Absolutely. Absolutely. Needless to say, he was just annoying when he was doing that stuff. Right. It was one of those kind of, 


He was a really nice guy from what I remember. Right. It was kind of like, nah, geez, 


Oh, that's his personality. But I mean, dude enough was enough. We had a number one who always wanted to call the phone call. 


Always just remember him s**t. 


Right. Sure enough school at four fifty five, the phone would ring. You'd see it. And it was him. Nobody would answer it. 




He always got the idea at 4 55 that he wanted it. It did this, trust me, this isn't a once or twice saying this must've over the course of, we had them for about eight or nine years. Over the course of that, it was a regular thing. He just, he was that person who always wanted to talk and he would get upset if we didn't. 


Pick up the phone. That's right. He would. 


Remember that. He was just like, dude, I'm glad we're moving to this web only. We would tell them, if you really want to get ahold of us, email us, we get that much quicker than our f*****g voicemail on our phone. Clearly says, don't leave a message because we won't respond. We never check it. We warn people and Lynn, if they still continue to push the message, we will find them one more time. We're like, wow, you really do want to leave. I'm telling you guys, trust me. Try, try leaving as a nurse. It's hilarious. Yeah. So we had that guy, of course. We had another one and this has only been recently in the past, like four or five years. We've whittled most of these out, but this other one. Oh, she was a beautiful woman. Loved her. She. 


Was very nice. But. 


She would always send feedback. Yep. Okay. Like you send the project, Hey, here you go. Whatever, whatever she would email us feedback. She would want to set up a time to talk them through. I was just like, your feedback says, change the font to this font and make it blue. I don't think we need a half hour meeting. 


Unbelievable power. If you're lucky. I remember being in some of those 45 minute ones. 


It was amazing. Needless to say, we both deal with them, annoying customers. I'm not always necessarily you're right. 


Th that's not a fire-able. Cause most of these people were lovely. All of these people, those three examples, they were really nice people. I remember talking to the one guy and it was just like, he was great, but it was just like, dude, come on, can you just let me work? He's like stream of consciousness stuff. You would just, oh my gosh was like these ideas were coming to them. 


What else we would always eat on the phone talking to you. 


Oh my God. I don't remember that. 


What I was thinking, I think once I actually said, dude, you've got to stop. 


You have to do that. Don't call me on lunch. 


Oh, that's all. But you know what? Like, there are customers that you need to get rid of. You need find them, there are annoying customers. Okay. Let's start off this fund podcast, by going through some of these customers that we've experienced and I'm sure everybody's experienced it sometime or another. Right. We've got a decent list here. Of customers that you could consider the fire if this is a regular thing. Right. I'm sure we all recognize these customers. So, okay. So first and foremost, absolutely. No questions asked if a customer is belligerent rude, swearing at you. Belittle don't even put up with that s**t. Right. Just goes without saying that customer, that's not even annoying customer. Yeah. That's just like a f**k you get out of here. They're doing that kind of stuff. They will never change. Never change. They're not even put on good social graces to talk to that customer. 


Let's not be that person doesn't even make it to this list. Okay. Cause this is the fun list. This is the fun list of annoying customers that we all deal with. You can put up with maybe, but for only so far. Right? So customer number one, okay. That everybody I'm sure has heard of, okay. We call him and cheapo crack there. This is the customer that no matter what, it's always about money, right? It's always about money. It's always about, and I mean, again, we've had this, right? The dude, his house was so big. It had four furnaces. Oh, he was like a shopping mall yet. He used to remind me that, what? At this company we run lean. So you gotta eat lean. Cause it's bang is damn my mortgage on this mall of the house. He had deep pockets, but short arms, this guy, he was like a, T-Rex like, let me just get my wallet. 


No, but literally these are the customers that always start off by asking for mercy, when, and they make all these other promises and this and that, they're oh, there's more to come. There's more to come. This, you will get you more money. That should never happen in the 20 plus years in business. Not once has anybody said, Hey, what, we're making money now. Charge me more money. Yeah. Never. That s**t doesn't happen. Don't believe that s**t at all. Right? Like these are the people you can't raise your rates. Right? Like, I mean, that's ridiculous. These are the customers literally that will try to squeeze every last ounce of every ounce, squid of like your time, your energy, your creativity. They'll try to squeeze it and get everything they can. Right. Just, just, within that dollar that they're actually paying for it. Right. They're going to pay you on time though, right? 


Oh, I wish they would. Those are always the people that pay on time. Never, ever. Not only are they like making you work for peanuts, but then they're always late and then, oh God. Or the worst. If they tried to renegotiate after the job is done. Geez. I really like what you did, but it really didn't take you as long as you thought that 30 hours was. I don't know. You know? It's just like, dude gave me what I'm f*****g right. So, you know, you get that once. Mm. Right there. And you switch your process. If that s**t keeps going, you need to reconsider a cheapo. Geez. Oh, that's funny. The next one. Okay. He's Mr. Okay. Literally this is the customer that no matter what you do, complaints about every single thing you do and great job. Well, and again, this was one of the ones that were talking about before, right. 


About how the website project just switched when he brought someone else in. Because, and again, he liked it. Yeah. The other guy, he was like, ER, yeah. Hey, what do you think of these concepts? These are great. Kind of Okad or no, I just don't know what I want. He's like the joke was he was probably being abused at home and he came in like just abuse everybody else. Cause it was just, he was so beaten and defeated. Right. It was just, this is the kind of customer that no matter what you do, they always complain about everything. They'll always find the bad in everything. They can't look forget about trying to complete that project because that project will never complete. No, because they'll never be happy. Yes. The worst part is they can't tell you what did he do, dude? Cause we asked him, we're like, well, what do you think? 


Like, no. He's answer like, when he's like, it's not like the kind of websites I was hoping for. I'm like, okay, well tell me, yeah. What, what kind of websites do you mean? Well, you're the expert aren't you serious? Oh my God. Those, I want to kick those people. Really? Yeah. Zero is. There's no way to please that if the, if that's your answer, if that's your response, most people would say, well, this is what I liked. I liked this guy. But if you're like, you're the expert. Then you're a sewed. Dealing, dealing with that customer changed so much. That was a very big, we took a big loss of over like 40 grand on that job. We use a huge, but I actually don't regret. I sucks losing 40 grand. Through that experience, we changed so many processes internally about this is where the, if we lose expert status, we're bouncing. 


If we take on a job, we are doing the installed billings. Right. We made sure like, we changed how we presented artwork, how we presented websites. We changed so much. We learned these guys because of those decks. So needless to say, Mr. Complaint in the end worked out for us. From what I remember too, is like, they pulled this with another agency previous. It is yet another agency and it still took them over two years after us to attempt to complete a website. 


Can you imagine how awful that would have been all that third stringer? Like there'll be a whole, 


Oh, that was pretty, that's dealing with a few things. 


Unless they had like some task master tyrant that was in the shape. But I see that happening. Like. 


The pointing, that one really was all right. Number three. Ready? Yeah. Everybody knows this. This is a guy drives in there and is just demanding as how this is the person that they're never happy with, whatever you do. Cause they're always telling you how to do things. They're so damn demanding. They will call you five minutes before you actually were supposed to finish and expect you to answer why they're captain demand. 


That's all about them. 


Literally dropped the world for them, take their call, drop your other customers. If their deadline has to take precedence because they are important. Yes. That's classically follows up with the whole, hurry up and wait s**t. I need it when you get it to me and then you get it two minutes, crickets. No, I didn't end up taking a look at it. I, when I left home early for the weekend, of a headache. Yeah, 


Yeah. Yeah. It was that deadline that could not be missed. 


Yeah. Yeah. That really kind of drugs. Again, those people, they just it's like a certain kind of, I don't know if you can ever fix that person. Right. They're demanding. And they stayed that way. Like you're kind of hustle. I don't know if that's, 


I wonder how that comes out is like, did they have they used that experience within the team, within their organization and they do, what I mean? Like, 


The customer that we have right now with their website. Yeah. That's the CEO, that's a hundred percent. He is captain demand and their trickles down company is like a fire drill company. This is where s**t never gets done. Really. I hate to say it, but it's, and it's unfortunate for the people working in that environment. Right. That the leaders like that. What happens is then it forces pressure on everybody else. I don't feel sorry for them because they have been very rude throughout this whole process. 


Yeah. That's exactly. 


So anyway, that's captain demand, 


Captain demand though. I. 


Love that. All right. The next one ready? Oh yes. The time sucker. The time sucker expects you to be available 24 7, because they want to suck your time. They believe that's what it is. They suck every they're, they will send you six, seven emails a day with thoughts. They will pick up the home to call you. They will insist that, you're able to be reached when they need you. They're not demanding. Just suck time. Sometimes they're nice, but that's just a veil. That's just their costume. Right. Cause all they do is they, and again, that's what our friend used to do here called five, two. And he wasn't demanding about it. It's just, he expected it and we'd just sit there and chew his food and keep him on the phone for half an hour with no outcome with nothing. 


Yeah. Just, just stream of consciousness. 


Thoughts, it's funny joke was on him because he was on retainer. Oh we recorded every one of those meetings. 


And billed. 


Every single. Right. Like, this is the same person who likes, sets up meetings just for the sake of meetings and then we'll cancel them because they're too busy. Right. This is the person who is like, literally will just suck all this productivity time out of your schedule. Right. This is. 


The same client that's calling you on Sunday morning kind of thing Right. 


Away. All right. Okay. Another one. Ready? Yep. Nice. No respect. This is really horrible accents here that I'm given, but no snow respecto or it gets missed maybe for doing the Italian thing. It's misnomer respect. 




Literally this is the person that has absolutely complete disregard for anything. You know, you do your experience. This is a person who, doesn't want to follow your processes. Doesn't respect your ideas, reminds you how great they are in doing this kind of stuff, right at worst. These are the people that no consideration for your time and expect to always be put first, very similar to, the time sucker, and the captain demander. 


Kind of combination of the two. 


The reason why this one hurts is this is the person who only cares about their agenda. And they genuinely believe. The ones that believe that, they know more than you. They, you need to listen to them, your processes aren't that good. You listened to their processes, and kind of work it through with them. This, this is kind of the one that hurts. I hate to say it because then this is, these are generally the people that make you almost question what you do and second, guess your ability. Yes. And f**k them. What you have been doing this longer, you are a professional. This is all you do. If they tell you that, oh, by the way, your graphic designer, great. I took art and you can call it. I was like, that's why it was art in college. That's why you're not doing it for a living. 


Leave it there. You know? Like they kind of screwed. 


Yeah. It was just to say, Hey, what? Yeah, yeah. I know. I know. Just as much as you do. 


Jesus. Yeah. Anyway, needless to say that whole loss of respect thing is really like just, there's no tolerance. That's bad. And this one, you like the sun. I don't know if you guys have heard this one, this might be complicated, but the asphalt, 


You may want to you, this is very vague. Really dial it down there. Let me just help you guys out. 


Someone with a short temper that sets them off like that. It's funny cause it's like, okay, so we had a customer like this. Okay. And the guy was an a*****e. He was, he was always really nice to me, man. He was an a*****e to his employees. Right. I remember we launched his website. Like we always do. Right. The, the address propagated really early right in the morning. Probably at eight in the morning. Right. I wasn't supposed to meet up with him until like nine o'clock. Right? Yeah. Well, sure enough. I get all these random emails. You've got to come to the office. He says, something's wrong. He doesn't like his, like this is this something wrong with the website. There's something wrong with the website. Right. And I'm like, what the hell? I'm looking at it everywhere. Fine. I go into the office right. To see it. 


Right. And it's like a big bullpen style. Right? Yeah. Every one of his employees has their heads down. Like they all just got an earful. Okay. And I get in there. Right. Of course they're all looking at me, but the others look of, good luck man. He yells Massimo dude, here I go in there. He was like, what is this website? This is a piece of s**t. This isn't what we paid for. Right. I'm looking at it. And I'm like, yeah, refresh your cache. Oh. Cause he had an old version in place and he was running like internet Explorer. Oh dude. Refresh your cache. He hits refresh. And it's beautiful. Perfect. Exactly. All the sudden, he just, he was just like, wow. I wish somebody here would have known that. That seemed like it was such a simple answer. You start blasting them Hoover. He's being an idiot. 


Oh dude. Again, I wouldn't put up with that. Like I said, from the beginning, if anybody ever says that to you fail right away, exact tolerance there, but this is a guy who was like a total a*****e. Granted maybe not to me, maybe because he actually did see me as an expert, but obviously to everybody else, right. This is the guy who swears and not even a good conversational swear because there's a, well-placed F-bomb, he's got a lot of good impact, but not just at people. Okay. Like literally this is the person who insults everybody D means there is just, even though they might like you. Yeah. Right. You know, it's coming your way sooner. Again, just, it's a horrible person you really want to be with. That's true. That's true. There's a couple of spectrum clients that we have a good rapport with them that are yeah, like you almost like, exactly how to deal with that and how to, well, and again, we have one customer who is like that, however, and it took me years. 


This was all right. Cause this dude is he's got Casper. No, it's not him. It's not him. This was a completely different guy. Yeah. No, our existing customer, we have a customer and he's a prince of a gentlemen money he's got Asperger's right. Understanding how to actually communicate with them. That's a fetal tool. That's a trick. It was at first I used to get angry cause I'm like, oh, he's such a jerk Dick. Yeah. You start realizing people are like, no. You know, read up on us. Right. You understand it and it's true. I read up on it and it was just like, oh wow, there is no filter at all. In his sense, he's not, he never says anything derogatory towards me. Yes. He would. Just the way he talks, it's just, wow, unbelievable. I'd never, ever experienced anything like that. But, but honestly, and he's one of my favorite customers, even though, and it's just like, I sit there and smile as he blasts and nobody knows how to take in. 


I'm just like, don't worry. I just, the way he is. He's awesome. And he really, oh, okay. Two more, two more to cover here. So this one, everybody knows. We kind of touched on a few. Right. This is the control for you all. Okay. We've had some awesome and they didn't, they weren't anything else. They were respectful. They were this, but they were such control freaks. They were asking for minute by minute updates, they would give recommendations. They would be like, can you use my process method instead of yours? It's just like, this is just, I don't even understand how to, like sometimes they mean, well sometimes they're just, they try to run the show almost like a backhanded sorta way. Right. It's just, they're really stressful to deal. They're there. Cause it's like, it's exactly, like you said before, it's the fire drill. Like it's just, they're almost like tornadoes or something. 


They just come in, blow that every, all the s**t off, dude. I don't even know how to handle these guys. These ones are a little different. Cause I'm like, listen, trust me, we got this know we got this, you hired us. We got this in the end. No, the control one. Cause they couldn't handle it in the end. They, they, so we had a customer and again, she was smart. She was cool. She was nice to hang out with. Right. She was really pleasant. She was such a control freak right. In the end, she couldn't, she didn't want the prosector. She, she couldn't believe it. Right. She didn't like the way it went and shoot then disappear for four weeks. He came back and she's like, what, I'm sorry, I couldn't wait for the 12 that you suggested I had to get my own way done. 


We got the website done in four weeks, but I think you're paid up and she was again, totally cool. And then we're like, wow. Cause what we created so far was amazing, but okay, no problem. And you know, I'm sorry, whatever. We took a look at what she created and do was so Wix, it might as well have been, there was errors, this, that, and he was just like, dude, you were like, just, were like at the last stage of our site and it would have elevated your brand. If anything, because she just, she needed to have control. We gave her play by play, but it's just, I felt bad for her in the end, honestly. It was just, how do you deal with someone? That's exactly. Yeah. That's that's but it's funny. It's odd that we actually, I mean, we ended on great terms and I still think she's a beautiful person, but she was just such a control freak. 


And they paid you a hundred percent. So I mean, that's unfortunate. It is unfortunately, right. It's just like. 


No harm, no foul, 


Sorta their brand kind of gun was around. Yeah, needless to say, I don't know how to I was too bad and the last but not least ready. The last is the creeper, right? This is the person that no matter what always pushes scope creep, this is the person that will always take it too far. They're always trying to push what they can get within there, for free, extra, above and beyond. Right. This is the person that always uses the words. This is the last one I promise. I promise. After that one, it's like, what? This came from higher up. I couldn't miss this. This is his name. Oh, you know what? The team looked at it before went scope creep is another episode that we'll cover later. But this one is a legitimate person. This is true. Yeah. And everybody knows this person. Right. Again, heaven forbid if you follow a process, no matter what you do, generally you can avoid this or at the very least charge for this. 


Yes. Right. I think that's difficult for most designers is to actually charge for this. Yes. 


Yeah. Yeah. Totally. So how would you do that? Would you, would you put that into the contract? Something like, 


So I'm definitely in the contract. Right? We, we always include three revisions at each stage, whatever, but again, there has to be revision expected. Yes. We always ask always very key to ask for consolidated feedback. Don't don't be like, oh, I'm emailing you one email. Oh, can you change this? Oh, can you check? No, no. I see what you're saying. Okay. Go take a week. Look at everything. You want to put it all in a consolidated, package it up in either a word doc or this will then take it and we'll put it in our platform. Put it as you know, executable tasks. No problem. We need it consolidated if there's other people that have to review this it's to your benefit to also have their feedback on here, cousin, fortunately, I hate to say it, but it's going to count as a revision set. 


Yep. Right. But the consolidated part is so huge. Yes. Huge because if you don't get that, just. 


You're right. If it just trickles in one email at a time, 


No. It's, and it's not ruined and you tell them, it's just, if it's consolidated, then you're not redoing things that you changed from before. And generally people have been pretty respectful. Yeah. 


It's good for them too, to kind of sit on it for a week. Like you said, rather than do like look at it, your initial, 


It will take them longer if they piecemeal it away. Right. Just double cause they'll say find the time themselves. Yes, exactly. So no, absolutely not. We asked them for consolidated feedback. Those are all the different types of customers that are annoying as hell. When, like when do you get rid of these people and when is the right? That's the trick. Every one of these you can deal with. Yes. Okay. Yeah. For the most part, like we do, and you can figure out ways to try to work with them. Right. But there comes line. Yeah. That's that whole, when is the right time to be like, what, Mr. Creeper, what missile respect though, right? Like, you know, this enough's enough, right? Yeah. I think things to consider, anyway, like about when I think it is right. Like when I think is right, is, number one is that person, is that client like, are they actually making you miserable to deal with? 


Right. Right. So again, yeah. Sometimes we have pain in the ass customers and just the way they work. Once you learn to work with them, that's all right. You learn. That's what they're about. Just like my Asperger's friend. Right. And it's just like, you know what? Yeah, he's more demanding, but he also pays really well. He's very pleased. Respectful is how right. But, he goes off on these funny tangents and you expect them. Right. Or, this guy's going to be cheap. Right. But they're really good. It's, and it's, a family business and you can excuse so, but the problem is when you're chasing money all the time and they're cheap, or when it's always an F this F that F this, there comes a point where you start getting miserable. Yeah. Right. Dealing with them. Yeah. Morale is low. If you've got team members, right. 


You, they start getting, so, that's kind of a really big sign first and foremost, like, is it time to kind of consider yeah. You know, getting rid of this customer. Yeah. Another one is, that definitely is, are they affecting your bottom line? Right. Like, that's another thing it's funny. Yeah. Right. It affecting your agency's bottom line, your freelance rate? It affecting getting jobs for other customers? Right. That's a huge thing. Right. Cause again, how much I'd put up with almost any kind of customer, if they're paying three times my rate, right. Hey, what you want to kick me in the ass, but the reality is, if you're miserable and it's also affecting your rate, like, it's not like, it's one thing if I'm miserable and I did this for I I've been like, what? I can't handle this customer anymore. Personalities don't mesh. Yeah. You do it for me. 


Somebody else deals with it. Somebody else has an okay experience with it. Great experience, but they can handle it. Right. So that's fine. All of a sudden, if you're losing money on top of that, it's affecting the agency. All of a sudden it's like, dude, then it's not even worth than that point. Right. Yeah. Another thing of course is, if it could potentially start effecting your reputation. Right. That's a big thing because we're supposed to be experts. If dealing with that company or that person on the sudden start could affect your relationship because for us, we're in a niche space. Right. Again, it's, as big and broad as our spaces, people know each other, this is a very small community and those terms. Exactly. Right. So again, that's another big thing. Will it affect the reputation of your agency? Right. Cause again, sadly, it's always agency's fault. 


It's almost the designer's fault. You know? Like that's a given that's unfortunately business-wise of course you have to think about financially what kind of impact this would be. Right. Before you actually kick somebody else out, like considerations, right. Because again, if they're giant, is there ways to work around this or not? I don't know. Right. You have to consider what the financial implications. Right. Sometimes you have to stick it out a little longer just to find somebody else to pad that, find the next customer, find the next retainer. Right. That allows you that little bit of leverage to kind of be like, what? I can't handle that anymore. Yeah. Especially, 


You know, like the cash cow, 


But yeah. That's the other thing you have to consider. So, definitely the creative part morale part, that makes you miserable. Definitely the financial implications. The funny thing is I, I, and the order I'd change it. I think reputation is probably last, but the most important. Yeah, totally. 


Yeah. Right. Like if somebody is going to, if somebody hears something that well, yeah. I heard Z factor did a s****y job on this. Right. It's like, Ooh, that is a deep cut. Right, right. You know, 


My name like you're a starting up freelancer. That s**t matters. Not even starting off, even if you're, 15, 20 years season, freelancer, you get that kind of s**t out there that hurts. Sometimes it just takes that one to just you could have your future dream client come across that and own and be like, oh, they're difficult. Yeah. I don't want a difficult, exactly. Yeah. 


That puts it and it may not affect it right away, but it puts it in their mind, in the back of the mind. 


And that's exactly it. Right. It almost starts the relationship off on the wrong note. Yeah. That's the big thing to change mine, right? Yeah. Yeah. But it's all right. It's possible. Yeah. But fine. You know what done is done? You've decided you got to do this. Right. You can afford to do it and your morale is down, still go out like a champ as my opinion. Right? Like honestly, you give them a chance to fix it. Right. You absolutely. 100% give them a chance to fix it. Give them one chance. Plenty enough, the Asperger customer I have. Right. I actually got into it with them once because I couldn't take it anymore because he was texting and he was calling. He was like being like, he, every one of these in one person. Right. I finally couldn't take it and I, okay. I lost my cool, because maybe I'm a little too comfortable with them, but I, like, I was dropping F bombs, jumped to him, f*****g tape. 


Like you can't f*****g be doing you care. Like this is just never going to happen. You can't find it. And, and what, and it's funny. I did all that. Yep. He understood, he was been a prince of a gentlemen ever since. He was like, okay, I get it. I crossed the line. Yeah. It won't happen again. It hasn't and the guy is awesome. There's like, yeah. It was just like, whoa, no, I wouldn't recommend going, dropping upstairs. 


That's a tough one. That's a, that is a fine line. 


And I did that. I, at that point I was like, I have no choice. I I'm willing to lose this. Cause we couldn't make it anymore because it was affecting so many people. And, and it was a, and it wasn't that he was rude by any means. It was more the process. It was just, it just seemed like he was getting to wait too much pressure. That was putting the pressure on us in the wrong way. But it's funny. 


So everybody needs to learn their boundaries. Right. That's what it. 


Is. Right. You need, that's actually a really good point. 


I think. I was just like, you gotta know this is the line. It's a professional. Absolutely. Like I, I have a life too, 


And you've got. 


Those boundaries and that's good. And we've done this before. We have, sacrificed weekends or things like that for our clients. You've just do that part of the game once in a while. That's cool. When it becomes an every weekend thing, oh dude, no. You're, you're texting me. I'm at my kid's recital. 


Come on. They expect you to get it. Right. In all honesty, it's like, you have the opportunity to talk to them once, give them one chance. Right. Be clear with what it is. That's wrong. What's not working for you. Your boundaries. Yeah. Good idea. Right. Set those back and be like, look, dude, like I will do whatever you want. We tell our customers. Yeah. Monday to Friday, you got us s**t. If you want, you I'll even, wake up at 10 at night. I don't care. Weekends don't even bother train. There's no marketing emergency, you know? And, and okay. Give and take, depending on what it is, but yeah. Weekends are, we need that time and that's it. Right? Number one, give them one chance to fix it. Right. If that s**t doesn't work out, then what then be professional about it. That's key. Don't make it personal. 


Don't don't, like kind of digressed to their level. Don't be a little, like you don't get to that brand. Be professional. Don't play the blame game. If anything, you don't take the higher road. Right. Use the whole, it's not you it's me. Okay. That's that's the John Hughes movie. Okay. The breakup. It's not, you it's means it's like seriously, honestly. Would I be don't make it personal. And I would recommend, okay. Writing down a script, written down, points a narrative. Cause when you're in that moment and you're telling them, you're going to be feeling a lot of crazy emotions, right. You're going to be upset. You're going to want to get angry. You're going to feel a little guilty because they might push back and be like, Aw, come on, please. I can make this. Right. It's like, it's not John Hughes thing again. Know that the truth is, you don't want to fall victim to this. 


Right. Write down some of the key points, write down a script. Maybe not word for word, but the main things you want to cover because you will lose track and you don't want to give it. Absolutely. You don't want to give is right. That's true. Then, what last but not least to go on that high road, on that high note, right. Offer to give them a referral. If they need one, just be like, look, dude, if you don't know anybody, I can. I know people oh that I can recommend. That might better for you might have more experience. Maybe we can help you offer that. They'll they'll never take it. They will never take it, their pride. But. 


Also it's a classy move. 


Absolutely classy. Right. They're staying classy, but it's true. Right. But most important. And I can't stress this enough. Right. When you fire that customer. Yep. Do not under any circumstance, give them access to their website, give them working files, give them anything else until you are 100% fully paid. Yep. Cause if you give that s**t out before you're paid, you'll never see that money. There is no honesty because they could be your best friend. They want it done ties Cod. Right. 


It wouldn't be a malicious thing that they're doing this and they just, they forget about, or they don't. 


Like, oh, whatever. 


Okay. I'm onto the next thing honestly. 


Yeah. Needless to say, I think everybody's felt this. Yeah. We've all had these kind of customers. 


Yeah. We've, we've run down this list and we have experienced this kind of stuff. Oh, absolutely many a******s, which is good. 


I mean, not too many houses. I can genuinely say I've had two the past 22 years that I would consider an asset class. Really? Yeah. The funny thing is I still got along with them. Yeah. That's what sucked. I was, unfortunately. Nobody else did, but I did. That kind of sucks for everybody else. 


Yeah. It's true. That's, that goes along the lines of it's it creates a poisonous culture and you don't need that. That's hard for everybody. 


Yeah, that's fine. Yeah. Hopefully, I mean, I, I mean, I hope and pray that nobody ever has to fire a customer. I hope you can find customers. I hope that these customers keep you happy forever. Remember this, remember these customers and remember where that line is. Right. You've got to keep, you got to keep your dignity. You got to make sure, your self-respect is up there. Right. Don't this isn't, like we said, we're not doing this. We're not, we're not prostituting. We aren't graphic design prostitutes. Right. We're not just this, isn't an industry just about the money. Leave that, leave that to the 99 designs and the fiber job that's right. Exactly. Yeah. No, this is a labor of love and passion. Honestly, in order to get that passion, you've got to love the people you work with. That's exactly it. 


And there's nothing wrong. We have a great rapport with a high. 


Dude. I'll like literally all of our cars. I know it's unfortunate with this one project going down the rabbit hole. And hopefully we can fix the long-term. Yes. Ramifications of how we got to this. Unfortunately if they're not going to budge and if we're not the experts, right, Hey, I'm not the experts in their industry, but I am a f*****g expert in arms. Exactly. Right. That's the, we never tell them, they're not. 


Going to tell them, look, I know how to run your business, 


Do this. And you should do that. No, no. You do that. 


I'll never understand being in this business for as long as I have, why everybody thinks that they could do this right. 


Here. Right. You don't know. 


Why nobody would tell a doctor. I know how to. 


Because the way you're stitching there, you kind of poke up around, do different kinds of stitch to a zipper method, not the crossover. Please. Let me just show you, let me just show you these. Where'd you go to school just so I took a biology class and in my community, 


I dissected a frog. I think I know what this is all about. Why people could do, would say to us, and on, and I will take over you just be the tool that were going to use. 


In that case. I say, good luck. 


Right on. Good luck with. 


That. Okay. You can just see the mess around there. 




Jeez. All right, everybody. Well, I hope you guys got some good s**t out of this episode. Again. I hope you don't have to deal with these customers, but if you do, hopefully you can take some of this to heart and hopefully this will help out, your journey. 


Like you're, like you said, if this ever happens, write that list down. All you be prepared. That is a great idea. Like just cause sometimes things get school sideways and you need to stay on script. Absolutely. Absolutely. That's really good. Really cool, man. Yeah. 


Nice. All right, everybody. Well, listen, I guess that's it for this one. Yeah. Thank you so much for listening to our show by all means, if you like what you hear, leave us a comment. You don't leave us a review on apple podcasts. They really help us out by all means, share us with your favorite friend or with your friends, share us on apple podcasts or Spotify, or even Google now. And let everybody know that we exist. Cause you know, we're reaching out. We're, we're helping some people and we're having a great time hearing the feedback that we do. Lots of good feedback, honestly like this is it, this amazing year 2022 is going to rock for this. Honestly, we're going to reach more people. We got some pretty big goals for this platform. Honestly we want to reach more people, help more people and make more people feel vindicated in this space. 


Right. Maybe that's what we're going to change for designers and design vindication. 


Yeah, that's right. That's right. That's pretty interesting. Yeah. To be like the champion design, right? 


I'm all game for that. All right. Everybody. My name's Masimo. Shaun stay creative and stay. 

Graphic Design is a marathon, not a sprint. Join us on this journey.

While we're still working on our email game, we do want to remind you that by signing up, you agree to receive emails from this design podcast. Stay Angry!

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Previous Episode

Next Episode