In business we must learn to trust our instincts. That means saying “no” to what might sound like a good sale or project.

I fired a client today. This is something I rarely have to do but this guy was a total jerk from the first encounter. I knew that. I should have refused the job.

The prospect (clients pay their bills) wanted slides made for an important presentation. He sent a Word file with the text and said he needed “about 100 or so slides”. I agreed and gave a range of prices from making a WOW presentation to cleaning up the wording and nicely formatting it. He wanted the cheapest of course. And, he needed it “right away”.

We agreed on a price—cheaper than I should have gone. I started the work and spent about 5 hours when the first email arrived. He revised the Word file. The text was changed and he added a more slides—a lot more. And then he added the snide remark about me not jacking the price up. Well, I didn’t jack the price up. I agreed that I would change the slides I already made and accept the addition of the new material no extra charge.

That was an error on my part.

When an agreement is reached, it’s never a good idea to let the “customer” add to the work without adding cost to the project. If you chose to do some extras or add some bonus touches, that’s great—and I always do that. But NEVER LET THE CUSTOMER ADD WORK WITHOUT ADDING COST.

I knew that. But I made an exception.

So I finished this horrendous project. His Word file was a mess loaded with missing words, incomplete sentences and very bad grammar. But I fixed all of his errors and cleaned up his very confusing language. In the end, there were more than 200 slides.

I told him I worked extra hours to complete the project in plenty of time for for us  to review and revise as necessary. I set up an online meeting and told him that we could go through the presentation and adjust slides and wording as he saw necessary and upon conclusion, I would send him the completed file. Fair enough?

Not for this guy! He wanted me to send him the completed file NOW so he could make his own revisions. When I said no, we would go through the file together, he said I was just trying to jack up the price.

Now that’s how you spot an ass. A pompous, self-centered ass.

I did the work. I did the extra work and then offered to do more and never did I mention adding charges. I did say that once complete, future revisions would be charged.

He insisted that I give him all of my work immediately. I declined.

I lose the time spent and he loses a truly beautiful set of 220 slides.

But I had to fire him. He wasn’t worth the grief. And he is truly a jerk. I know from experience that that people like this are trouble and the cost to me ends only when I end it. I ended it quickly. But I should have never agreed to work with someone I didn’t like from the very beginning.

Good reminder.

Now you remind yourself of this too.

We never need to work with jerks.

Chris Reich

PS  Anyone want a set of free slides on how to be “expert witness”?  I own the slides!