Four Types of Bad Clients

Four Types Bad Clients Jacoby Expo

Have you ever gone out of your way to avoid someone?  Perhaps you’ve done the supermarket aisle evasion dance, or the pretend to look preoccupied and pray you escape detection maneuver.  Sometimes escape is elusive and those dreaded moments turn into contemplating a new kind of exit strategy amidst the polite nodding and smiling.  It can be annoying enough to deal with in a personal capacity, but when it bleeds into your professional life, it’s time to re-evaluate if it’s worth it.

As a Show Manager, you don’t have the time to coddle or endure the rigmarole of certain types of clientele.  It’s not good for business or your sanity.  What if I told you that there was a way you could avoid those annoying interactions altogether?  You can!  And it’s called a cave.  But, on the off-chance stone etchings and fire pits aren’t your thing, I’ve come up with some characteristics that will help you spot these 4 types of clients before you commit yourself to them for an entire project (or longer):

The Starry-Eyed Militant

This type of client has a tendency to have unrealistic expectations and unspoken preconceived ideas, which unless you double as a mind-reader in your spare time, makes working with this type incredibly aggravating.  A starry-eyed militant can exhibit the following traits:

  • Demands deadlines that are impractical.
  • A lack of consideration for you, your staff, and contracted workers.
  • Doesn’t understand the value of the relationships you bring to the table.
  • Always tests the limits, regardless of being shut down previously. You tell them “no” but they still insist.
  • Persistent. Persistent.

The All-Knowing Authoritarian

Some people have a god complex; they are infallible because they are all that is right in the world.  You can’t win with this type of client, so saturate your conscious with the following knowledge of the god-like personality:

  • Views your partnership as inferior and has to one-up you in every “game” they play.
  • Doesn’t take your input with any seriousness, because they know better.
  • What you bring doesn’t hold much value.
  • They know what they want. Your suggestions are presumptuous to them.
  • The only vocabulary you need to know is “yes.”
  • You work for them, not with them, and you had better not forget that.
  • Worship isn’t necessary but could give you temporary brownie points.

The Dilatory Dreamer

We all love to dream, but eventually, those dreams need to materialize into reality.  If we walked around with our heads in the clouds every day nothing would get done.  These clients are happy to give you free reign, which seems like a breath of fresh air from the all-knowing authoritarian but leaves you shouldering every burden.  This type of client is the opposite of motivated (read: lazy) which means you might have to deal with these:

  • Deadlines? What deadlines?
  • Increased costs due to missed deadlines (you weren’t serious about those deadlines, were you?), compensating or filling in missing gaps.
  • Doesn’t want to pay for the aforementioned cost increases.
  • No attention to detail.
  • Onsite issues.
  • Terrible memory recall. You tell them something and they don’t remember it.
  • Not mentally or physically present.

The Out-To-Lunch Comrade

It’s time to pull out your teacher hat because it’s back to school with these types of clients.  This type of uninformed client might mean well, or be full of excuses.  Regardless of the reasons behind the naivete, the following are symptoms of an out-to-lunch comrade:

  • Doesn’t understand that their decisions carry consequences and affect other areas.
  • The left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
  • Blindly gives instructions. For example, they may ask the General Show Contractor to come at six when the facility doesn’t open until seven.

The Hungry, Dreaming, Starry-Eyed God-King

All four types wrapped into ONE client?  Just run.

All 4 Types

There can be some overlapping when it comes to personality traits, but every client type has these factors in common:

  • It’s not just you. No one wants to work with them.
  • Their shows are not profitable.
  • It’s always about them and not the show.
  • Your partnership is not valued.

You Got This

You don’t need to be a glutton for punishment.  There is no reward given at the end for going through the pain.  Affirm your savvy business sense and steer clear of problem clients.  Sometimes these types of clients slip through the cracks and you have already made a commitment to work with one.  Breathe easy, allow your patience to be refined, and practice saying the word “no”.  Afterward, set yourself free and move on.