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Two Reasons We Give Back A Client’s Check

There have been a few times (a very few) – where a relationship with a client went bad. Today we’ll describe the times when The Wonder Jam will refund a check.

1. When a Client Shoots Themselves in the Foot

At one point, we agreed to a 3-month retainer (billed hourly) with a client. We grossly underestimated the amount of time needed to handle this work and the client grossly underestimated the amount of work needed.

What started off as marketing & consulting turned into rework of an established brand, color scheme and website. When we discussed that the new needs were “out of scope,” the client mentioned that they were actually looking to reduce their monthly expense, not increase it. We parted ways and ripped up the 3rd month’s check.

Contractually we wouldn’t have had to do that but we did. Why did we? While we couldn’t go back in time and get the hours back we’d spent, we also know that whether someone pays us $1,200 or $12,000, it’s a big investment. We know what it’s like to have someone relieve tension on finances. (If you see me, Adam, sometime, ask about the $900 purchase I accidentally made online…).

Note: Other times, we proceed through a contract even when the client is having a hard time seeing the value. It’s like reluctantly buying life insurance. You might not see the value, but we know whats best for you.

2. When A Client Hurts Our Other Clients 

There have been exactly two occasions of this in the past year. One was a project that was finished and another that was just getting started.

When our life and work get crazy, we protect our clients. We’ll hurt our networking, friendships and free time to make sure our clients are taken care of.  We get very “momma bear” about the whole thing.

We’ve taken two clients on in the past year who started taking WAY TOO MUCH TIME and giving hurtful feedback.

In both situations, I would get anxious when I saw their name in my inbox. This caused me to ignore my inbox, which caused me to ignore my clients. I learned very, very quickly that no amount of money or recognition was worth what that one client was costing.

I may have a hard time saying “NO” and protecting myself, but when someone ruins the day of my clients (or even worse) my wife/business partner, it’s not worth whatever you’re paying me.

So we are really, really quick to  end relationships that are hurting The Wonder Jam family.

It’s harder to get into our family, but once you’re in you’re protected with something ferocious.

One Thing These Situations Taught Us

There is no amount of money, recognition or reputation that is worth working on a project that doesn’t fit well with The Wonder Jam. We’ve learned the early warning signs of these situations and have steered clear of sending a proposal when it’s obviously not a good fit.

We also take a lot longer in the initial learning phase before working with someone. Often we don’t even send prospective clients a proposal until we’ve talked for a few hours.

July 18, 2014
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