How to Deal with Difficult Clients in the Events Industry
If you work in the service delivery industry, you must have met with all types of clients. After all, that is the beauty of such work, more so in the event management. As a beginner freelance event manager in Dubai, you are yet to experience it all. At times, you will even wonder if you can really plan the event by yourself.
All in all, you have to be prepared to meet different people in your line of work. Some clients can be delightful, and you can even create a good bond and relationship with them. Within a few days, they are your close friends. Other clients are just dull, devoid of any memorable traits, and eventful experiences.
The third category of clients has pushed many event managers to the brink of losing their jobs or even into the state of depression. They are probably the hardest lot to deal with. They are subdivided into various types, including:
- The know-it-alls – these types of clients are so full of themselves, and they believe they can do your job better than you could ever do. They are so controlling and might not even let you accomplish your task without getting too much involved by directing you.
- The never-happy – these can never appreciate your work, regardless of how much effort you put into it and how good it appears. It is like they were born with some special genes that make them bitter and whiny all the time.
- The polite and pickies – these types of clients will appear nice to you, but then they will continuously nag you in a rather polite way. They will keep correcting you even for the things that are so obviously right. Their nagging is even much worse than those who will yell at you.
This is because you will think that they are kind to you and so you will also pretend to be nice to them. Their continuous nagging will make you wonder why they don’t have any strangle marks around their necks yet, from the people who have had enough with them.
- The last-minute changes – everything runs perfectly well, even after the deadline, and it is just a short while to the main event. It is only then that they begin making dramatic changes to the event, making you and your team undergo a stressful time.
- The price is always negotiable – the biggest disadvantage of working in the service delivery industry is that people still think that the price is always negotiable. Unlike the case of physical products, these clients believe that the first amount you quote is always the highest and that there is room for negotiation. This might be a less severe situation, but still annoying altogether.
The Way Forward?
If you are still learning how to become an event manager in the UAE, you probably should also figure out ways to handle demanding clients, as they are inevitable. So how would one do this?
1. Listen actively in your first meeting
The initial meeting with the client is everything, so you have to pay close attention. Write down everything they ask for, and be sure to ask a lot of questions on things you may need clarification on.
After the meeting, go through with them the list of the things they want and confirm that everything is set. Doing so helps to eliminate some last-minute changers or the ones that would start complaining that you have not done certain things.
If this situation arises in the future, you can refer them to the notes you wrote in the initial meeting. With this, they will not blame you for anything not done that wasn’t discussed in the first meeting.
2. Walk away early
Sometimes it is just easy to figure out if a client will become difficult as you work together. The only exception might be the polite and pickies who will appear friendly at first before they begin nagging you at a later stage.
If you believe the client will fall into any of the categories mentioned above, it is best just to cut the cord now before you get into an agreement. Save yourself from all the trouble before it begins. The ability to choose clients is one of the reasons why most event planners prefer a freelance lifestyle.
And if you believe in karma, don’t refer these customers to your competitors. Nature always has its way around.
3. Set the ground rules from the start
As a freelance event manager in the UAE, you are mostly after greener pastures, and sometimes, these pastures are found with difficult clients. If walking away is not an option, it would be best to create some ground rules first. You have to understand that some of these nagging clients are like children – you will have to provide them with some guidelines on how you will be working together.
As expected, most of them won’t be happy with these rules because, well, that is their nature. Once you create the boundaries for your operation, they have no choice but to accept begrudgingly.
4. Be firm
In this field, you will want to impress the clients by doing everything they say without questioning. However, some customers tend to take advantage of this as you will have come across as a pushover. Even though you want to please them, it shouldn’t be to the extent that they start wearing you out with outrageous demands – some of which might make you lose your money.
As much this might be your hobby, you are still in business, and you don’t want to be losing your time and money over nothing. Once you become firm with your decisions, the clients are more likely to respect you more.
5. Terminate their services
Yes, you read that right. Some clients have an incorrigible behavior that might end up being harmful to your business and even reputation. Sometimes, money isn’t worth it. There are certain warning signs that you should watch out for, which necessitate the firing of the client. These include:
- The scope of the work getting bigger yet the customer doesn’t wish to pay extra
- They will want you to be available 24/7, yet won’t even pay for the extra time
- They don’t trust your expertise or opinions
- They begin to micro-manage you
- They take up too much of your time that you start to neglect other good clients
Event management should be a fun line of work away from all the drama. Use our pointers to keep yourself away from these problematic clients. You can also join a pool of other freelance event managers in Dubai to improve on your portfolio and get more gigs.
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