With each project being produced, there is a myriad of challenges throughout the production process that can hinder a final product. One of those obstacles may involve working with a difficult client. In general, your client has final say about the project because they are paying you to take an idea of theirs and turn it into a final product. However, just because they are paying you shouldn't give them the opportunity to take control of everything. The ideal client is someone who knows exactly the vision they want but is open to all suggestions. It is important to have a balance of creative freedom but still work within the guidelines of what the client wants. However, not all situations are perfect and you must be readily equipped to handle anything thrown at you. To be prepared, here are a few tips that will help you when dealing with clients to make everything as smooth as possible.
1. Communication - Communications is always key to a good relationship. From the beginning, it is important to communicate with the client the expectations for the project. If possible, I always set up a meeting with my client because it helps build a relationship from the get-go. There is a different dynamic when meeting in person compared to emailing/ texting/ private message/ etc. In my opinion, electronic form of communication is great for initial inquiries, but directly meeting with a client make it more personal. The more personal it becomes, the easier it is to communicate along the way.
2. Put It In Writing - I cannot stress this point enough! I have had instances where clients requested turnaround edits in a shorter time than the estimated time frame initially agreed upon. I told them that I would do my best but there would be no guarantees. Much to their dislike, I provided them the contract and showed them the clause for estimated project completions. Situations similar to this occur quite often; whether its a quick turnaround for an edit, the number of revised edit changes, certain shot selection, etc. This is why having a contract is very important. Stating what the client will get and the expectations for a project should be put into writing. More times than not, I try to accommodate my clients within reason but there are times where I would need to show them our contracts if any disputes occur. Videography contracts define outcomes and set expectations; but they also provide protection—protection for you, your client, and for the product you create.
3. Be Assertive - Make sure to stand your ground if the client continues to be persistent. We all want the client to be satisfied with their experience with us, but if a request is unreasonable then speak up. Be firm with your stance but also provide an explanation to why their request might not be attainable. In the event that there need to be an accommodation made outside of the contract, you are well within your right to be compensated properly. Discuss with the client the new terms of agreement and put it in writing. You know your worth, so make sure you get paid accordingly!
Having that client/studio relationships is a delicate matter with many nuances. Having that constant communication with the client will undoubtedly make things easier during the course of any project. The end goal should be to do your best within your capabilities and to make sure you have a product that both you and the client will be happy about.