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When to Walk Away from a Job

(July 2012) posted on Tue Jul 10, 2012

"No matter how much we want or need jobs, sometimes we have no choice but to walk away from certain work. All jobs are not created equal."


By Craig Miller

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When a client comes to you with seemingly unrealistic time constraints, provide the customer with strict deadlines and financial repercussions. Here’s an example: “Mr. Customer, we have to have the print-ready files by June 15 at 8:00 a.m. For every day after the file is late, the price will increase by 20 percent. If all the files are not in our possession by 8:00 a.m. on June 20, our shop will not be responsible for the deadline.” Both parties understanding all of the time constraints involved in production will allow you to best guide your client with deadlines throughout the process – and also gauge your client’s ability to adhere to the guidelines necessary to complete the job.

Another factor to consider is communication. For a project to be completed, an open flow of communication must occur between your shop and the client. The shop needs to know accurate dimensions, whether the graphics will exist indoors or outdoors, how long the graphics will be displayed, and what the viewing distance is. Without this information, you simply can’t perform. If the client is unable to provide these necessary details, walk away.

Additionally, there’s this: Some clients simply have a history of being problematical. If a new client is walking in our front door, they probably just walked out of (or were kicked out of) the door of one of the shops down the street. Customers typically switch print providers because either, a) the shop screwed up and now they want to give us a shot; or, b) our competitor has refused their business. I’ve been lucky enough to have competitors who will share helpful information regarding clients they had experienced problems with – and this helped us to make informed decisions about our future business with that customer. I’ve also shared this sort of information. Obviously we have to be careful not to say things in these conversations that could result in a lawsuit, but we can save each other much heartache by disclosing information about a customer’s history of bad behavior.


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