How to deal with difficult clients

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As you progress through your contracting career, the vast majority of clients you work with will be cooperative and supportive. However, there may come a time when you have to deal with somebody completely different.

Although maintaining a professional working relationship is important, ignoring the issue could have an adverse effect on your motivation, and potentially cause the quality of your work to suffer. That being said, it’s essential that you approach the situation carefully.

Here are three common scenarios you may come up against as a contractor and how you should approach them.

My client wants me to take on additional work

Some clients will make additional requests of you that are outside of your remit. Should this happen, it’s important that you flag it up.

Taking on ad-hoc duties could jeopardise your status as an independent contractor and see you viewed as a disguised employee. This may have serious consequences if HMRC get involved.

If you want to take on the extra work, be sure to negotiate a separate agreement for the task. This will maintain the contractor/client relationship and ensure that your independent status is protected.

My client is not paying me on time

Although the vast majority of clients will pay you without a hitch, you may find yourself in the situation where you don’t end up receiving what you’re entitled to. If this happens, it’s important to approach the issue with caution as there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the oversight. Be sure to approach the client and double-check what the issue is to see if it can be resolved.

A typical contract will contain a termination clause that can be triggered due to non-payment. This should only be used as a last resort once all other avenues have been explored. If your assignment has already finished, you may need to take official action to get what you’re owed.

My client isn’t giving me any feedback

If you are struggling to get feedback about your work, it’s vital you try to open the lines of communication. The last thing you want to happen is to end up producing work that you think is an acceptable standard, only to find it doesn’t meet the client’s requirements.

Although your schedules may be hectic, it’s important to correspond with your client so it doesn’t stall your assignment progress

Try to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them so you can get some immediate evaluation. To keep up the interaction, try to set up a regular session or send them your project timeline with specified dates when you will need feedback.

Have your say

Are you a contractor? Have you had to deal with a difficult client? How did you overcome the problem? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.