A new customer is a great thing for every self-employed person. But every now and then a new customer can cost you more energy, time and money than it is worth.During the time of my self-employment, I have regretted having accepted a customer from time to time. Looking back, there were some warning signs. I would have been grateful to have known these signals earlier.
Here is an overview of the warning signals that nowadays usually lead me to refuse a new customer.
A briefing is 3 lines long
The first contact with a potential new customer already says a lot about the customer. If you receive an enquiry with a detailed description of the task, you can assume that the customer is well prepared and is serious about the enquiry. If, however, enquiries are received that consist of a one- to three-line “briefing”, this shows that the other party has apparently made no effort whatsoever to deal with the topic and does not know what exactly he wants. Even the submission of an offer will be tedious in this case. For this case I have a sample e-mail which I forward to the customer, which contains a multitude of questions. In 90% of the cases I then hear nothing more. The other 10% are serious and give me the desired answers.
The customer wants to lower the prices
A fair price is an important basis for every business relationship. However, the price must be fair for both sides. If a new customer tries from the beginning to aggressively lower the price, but at the same time still wants the same service, one can assume on the one hand that the focus is not on performance and quality of work, but above all a “cheap” price. You will not be able to build a sustainable business with penny-pinching in the long run, because you will be gone as soon as someone else has a cheaper offer. That is why I also reject such customers.
The customer questions payment terms or is not prepared to make advance payments
As an agency, I purchase external services (e.g. advertising) for my customers. In order to reduce the risk of non-payment, I therefore charge a large part of these costs before the project begins. If a customer is not prepared to make such an advance payment, extreme caution is required, as the risk of non-payment is considerable.
This is a tip that I received from many other entrepreneurs at the beginning of my self-employment and it has proved to be true. Those who do not observe this rule will most likely end up paying the costs and in extreme cases go bankrupt.
The customer wants everything directly
A very special category are the “I want everything now and direct” customers. If a potential customer has no time right from the start and always wants to have everything without delay, then you can expect a strenuous business relationship. This consists of constant phone calls, e-mails (all with high priority), What’s App messages – of course seven days a week and around the clock. In the end, such customers are anything but desirable, reducing their quality of work and life.
The “I can do it myself” customers
An interesting customer species are those who make it clear right at the start that they could do everything themselves, but now need an agency that will do it all anyway. Here too, caution must be exercised and you should definitely check right from the start to what extent the customer wants to deal with open feedback. Challenge the customer and see if they trust you. If not, keep your hands off them.
These are the most important warning signals I have discovered so far with new customers.