The 6 Telltale Signs of a High Quality Client
As a freelance designer and consultant, I have the opportunity to service a variety of different companies and projects. I love the ability to work on projects that vary and get the chance to flex all my design + strategy muscles! The challenge is making sure that I’m working with a high quality clients that respect my time, energy, and boundaries. It’s not easy to tell whether a client is going to be good or bad for you and your business. So, I’ve pulled together a little guide to share the telltale signs of a high quality client.
The 6 Telltale Signs of a High Quality Client
1 | Respects Your Time
I hate wasting my time and other people’s time. So one of my biggest pet peeves is when a client consistently takes my time for granted and doesn’t give me enough notice for tasks. To me, this is a signal that the client doesn’t think much of my time and feels that I can jump on their work with the drop of a hat.
To me, this is not a sign of a high quality client.
Now keep in mind, I do want to service my clients quickly and would love to be able to service them at all hours of the day. However, as a contractor, the reality is that I have several clients asking for my attention at once. I truly appreciate clients who understand that reality.
Look for clients that care about your time and schedule. This is one of my strongest indicators of a high quality client.
I usually take note on how a client is with attending meetings or phone calls in the initial discovery process, before I’ve signed a contract with them. If there are little hints that they may not care about my time (for example, if they miss a meeting we set up), then I will make a mental note and add it to my list of considerations when deciding to work with them.
2 | Follows Through
I love people who do what they say they’ll do.
In business, this can make a huge difference – especially if there is a lot on the line (like a product launch or sale waiting to be made).
One important sign of a high quality client is whether or not they can follow through on their end. Can the client complete tasks on time? Can they send you the Google doc you requested? Can they set up a time to meet as agreed?
To me, a client who follows through is someone who is taking the project at hand seriously. They consider it important and therefore any work they do with you will be important too.
So how do you find clients who follow through? Watch their actions from the start. When you are in the phase of negotiating, keep an eye on what the client does…Do they take notes? Do they take care of the important things first? Being able to keep their word is an easy to see (but truly important) sign of a high quality client.
3 | Responds Within 24 Hours
Sign number 3 falls in the same category as “respects your time.” However, I chose to keep it separate since it is crucial to understand if the project you’re working on is a priority for the client.
Keep tabs on your communications with your client via slack, email, or other messaging service. Do they respond to you promptly when they are having those initial conversations? Do they get back to you in 2 hours or 2 days?
Response time is an quick and easy sign of a high quality client. It is signals the following:
- The importance of the project in the client’s mind (Is the project actually on the roadmap?)
- The urgency of the project (Does it need to get done soon? Or is the client just casually exploring?
- The speed of communication once the project has started.
So, go ahead, look at the clock and see how long your potential clients take when communicating and responding to your messages.
4 | Is Passionate About The Work
For me, one of the most important telltale signs of a high quality client is their passion. I consider myself a passionate individual and want to work on projects that excite me and make an impact. When I’m passionate about something, I’m likely going to work harder and be committed to getting the desired results. Because of this, I prefer to work with people who feel similarly about their work. I like to work with clients who get fired up about their business or product.
To me, this indicates that the client is all in and will do whatever it takes to complete the project. Passion from the client encourages me to feel passion about the project as well. It also means that I will be getting fierce support/help/resources when I need them.
How do you tell if a client is passionate about their work? Watch their demeanor.
How do they conduct themselves when they talk about their business or product? Do they seem invigorated and excited? Are they looking to take their company to the next level? Do they seem eager to get started working with you and improve their business?
Keep a pulse on this the next time you are evaluating a client, you’ll quickly be able to detect whether they are a high quality client or not.
5 | Has an Excited Team Behind Them
So maybe a founder of a company can show excitement (because let’s face it – the company is their baby), but is their team excited too? Are the bought in? Are the people who will be working with you also passionate about the business or product?
This one is a bit hard to tell right off the bat since you don’t always have the chance to meet an entire team before you begin an engagement with a client. My recommendation is to try to meet at least 1-2 other people besides the CEO to get a feel for what the team is like.
If you’re going to be working closely with a team, then it’s important to understand what the team is like.
This collaboration depends on how you work with that team. So, as mentioned earlier, having a team that is excited and passionate will go a long way.
Keep your eyes peeled and notice whether or not that is the case with your client.
6 | Demonstrates They Have Funding
This is the one you’ve been waiting for right?
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about compensation. During my time as a design consultant, I’ve learned that I have to take calculated risks. I can work with early stage companies, but realize that the work might not be steady or I might not even get paid.
Because I don’t want to reside in a world of uncertainty like this, I’ve started going with this rule of thumb….
If the client shows that they have funding, go for it. If not, proceed with caution.
A high quality client has already put money aside for the project they want to engage with you on. They have done a bit of research (perhaps with your help) and have come back with a budget. The benefit of this is that you won’t have too many surprises. Clients are less likely to suddenly stop working with you if they have already budgeted for the cost.
The best way to ensure that your client does have the funds is to ask them. Get to know a few things about them before you dive into an engagement:
- How are they being funded?
- Have they put aside a budget for the project at hand?
- Do they have investors? What kind of investors?
- Have they worked with contractors before? (Sometimes it might be worth chatting with those contractors to see what their experience was like!)
Once you have some of these answers, you’ll be able to make an educated decision on whether this client is showing the telltale signs of a high quality client. That information will help you make a decision on the engagement.
What if my client doesn’t exhibit all the telltale signs of a high quality client?
Know that many clients will not check all the boxes. Use these 6 signs as a guide to help you make educated decisions about each client and how to proceed when working with them. This guide can help you decide whether to continue or terminate engagements as well.
Keep in mind, every contractor and freelancer is different. So you need to keep your individual preferences and workstyle in mind when you are making decisions on new clients.
At the end of the day, you are the one who they want to work with.
You’re the one who brings the magic to the table!
Which of these signs is most important to you? Are there any other telltale signs of high quality clients that you’d add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below and let me know!