January 28, 2014

How To Say “No” To Customers

Being in business for yourself or freelancing comes with its own set of challenges and annoyances. When it comes to setting priorities and prices and managing our time and customers’ expectations we can sometimes be our own worst enemy. As we go, we begin to learn just how much our time is worth. We know exactly how long something will take and how much work is involved. We write up contracts for customers to sign – a mutual promise between vendor and client, “I will do this amount of work and you will pay me this agreed upon amount.” Period. So then why is it, that at the end of the day, we find it so hard to just say, “No.” when clients begin to ask for more?

Let’s be honest. As humans, it’s our natural inclination to help others and not ask for anything in return. This is why we sometimes end up selling ourselves short and fumbling through awkward conversations about why, “This wasn’t part of our original agreement. It’s going to cost you extra.” The next time you find yourself dealing with a customer who’s expecting more than they’re budgeted for try keeping a few things in mind:


They don’t know what they don’t know

They’ve hired you to provide this service for them because, quite simply, they know nothing about it themselves. This includes all of the intricacies and nuances of your work that you take for granted. Bottom-line is they don’t know they’re asking for more. So be patient and explain to them how and why this is more but that you’d love to find a solution that works for both of you.


You have other commitments

And it’s more than alright to remind those extra needy customers of that. You know, that one that has your desk line on speed dial? Simply explain that due to your current commitments and tight schedule you wouldn’t be able to take on this extra work for less than *insert price here*. If they agree, great! If not, politely offer to oversee the work of another freelancer that you know and trust.


Not everyone is going to like you

So get over your need to make everyone happy all the time. Sometimes customers’ requests are unrealistic and frustrating. “The logo you designed just isn’t ‘logo-y’ enough. Can you fix it?” But by saying, “Yes,” and agreeing you’re setting a dangerous precedent. Not only are you saying, “I’ll do anything you ask me to at the drop of a hat,” you’re also undervaluing yourself and your service. Eventually you’ll end up resenting your clients for getting more than they’re paying for and who wants that kind of working relationship?


Just as children need boundaries, so do your clients sometimes. By being able to gently and politely set limits, the clients who aren’t willing to comply will fall by the wayside effectively helping you to retain better quality clientele and a modicum of your sanity.

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