You’ve heard the phrase “The customer is always right,” haven’t you? Who are we kidding? Of course you have. Everyone has. You know what, though?
That phrase is bullshit, you guys.
Seriously. The client is NOT always right. I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s true. Too often, clients (in the freelance world especially) hide behind this “I’m the client so I’m always right” notion, and use that to justify some really awful behaviors, behaviors that would never fly if the situation were reversed.
Here are four times when you are absolutely wrong – even though you’re the client.
1.) When payments are late.
Life happens, I get it. A (very) occasionally late payment is not the end of the world, especially when there is clear communication on the fact that .) you know the payment will be late, b.) it’s only late because of an emergency or some type of situation completely outside your control and c.) you have a specific date when payment (and any applicable late fees) will be made in full.
If your payment to your contractor is late, and they charge you a late fee because of it, you don’t get to go off the deep end on them and claim they’re providing bad service or some other such nonsense. You don’t get to yell at them or just decide you’re not going to pay it because you’re the client and you don’t feel like it. If you fail to pay your contractor in accordance with the terms of your agreement, you’re 100% in the wrong.
2.) When you violate any of the terms in your contract.
Did you miss a deadline for something your designer needed to finish your project? Have you modified something created specifically for you without permission of the creator? Are you trying to get out of your contract without paying what you agreed?
Whatever it is that you’re doing, if the behavior is in violation of your signed contract, then you’re in the wrong. This is why it’s so important to read through any contracts before you sign them, so you are fully aware of what you can expect from your contractor, and what’s expected of you as a client. Ignorance is not a valid defense.
3.) When you fail to provide your contractor with what they need to complete your project.
Generally speaking, any time you contract with someone to do a service for you, you need to provide information to them in order for them to be able to do the work. We all understand that sometimes life can get busy. But when your designer can’t finish (or even start) your website because you haven’t given them the content you want to use, or your VA can’t send out your invoices on time because you haven’t told them what you’re billing for, it’s no longer their fault when the work isn’t done on time. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure your contractor has everything they need to finish the job.
4.) When you’re rude, condescending, or otherwise disrespectful.
You’ve chosen to work with someone because they have a specific expertise. If you want to have a good working relationship with them, be respectful of that expertise. Don’t belittle or dismiss their opinions simply because you may not agree or understand. Don’t act like they’re bothering you when they ask for something they need. And please, for the love of everything, don’t devalue what they are doing for you just because you don’t understand it. You may not understand why good graphic design or web development is expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth every penny someone is charging.
When any kind of question or issue arises between you and your contractor, instead of coming to the table with the idea that you’re automatically right because you’re the client, take a moment to really think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Be as respectful as possible when you’re talking with your contractor, coming from a perspective of building a relationship rather than being right, and I guarantee it will lead to a far better outcome for all parties involved.