Running a successful freelance design business is far more than just designing. You have to be both a designer and a project manager with seamless grace. In addition, you may also have to be a developer, source print quotes, deal with suppliers, etc. This list can go on and on and take up a huge amount of time. With such a large commitment, we sometimes manage our clients based on their perceived value. Sometimes, however, their true value may be hidden.

We All Prioritize

It can be tempting to class your clients in groups. More than likely, you ºll class them by the amount of work they give you. Big clients will be giving you lots of jobs every month and the small clients will deliver a small job only every now and then.

Its very easy to flag or leave until later the small requests from your smaller or more sporadic clients. Those little requests for small or low money jobs can sometimes get “lost” as they slip further down your inbox. Weʼve all been there at sometime or another, a day or so passes by and youʼll get a follow up email from your client asking if youʼre going to do that little job and when they can expect to see something.

I ºve always tried as hard as possible to keep all my clients happy. Both big and small customers get equally the same quality treatment. If I ºm buried in work, I reply to the email with a quick courtesy response, saying that I ºm very busy at the moment and I ºll sort their job as soon as I can. The job then goes on my to do list and gets done when I have a suitable gap to fit it in.

A Big Payoff

Recently this practice yielded a surprising yet very welcome reward for me. We ºre all familiar with the power of the client referral in graphic design and the advantages of having one of your clients recommend you to another. In this case it turned out that my very first client ºs sister was in fact married to the marketing director of a major UK wildlife charity who were on the search for a new agency after being let down too many times by their current agency. Suddenly, out of the blue, I get a wonderful phone call, have a brilliant meeting and there ºs a ton of work coming my way and smiles all round.

It was the depth of service I had given to this client over our 5 year relationship that had set up this referral. Overall I hadn’t done much work for them–a brochure to start off with and then a simple website a couple of years down the line. Nevertheless, it was the service and attention that I had given them which paid huge dividends in the end.


How to Keep All Your Clients Happy

Follow these three tips to keep all your clients happy, regardless of size:

1. Always respond promptly to all emails. You’ll be amazed at how a quick courteous response will endear you to your clients. If you can’t attend to their query immediately, let them know and give them an indication as to when you’ll be able to deal with it.

2. If you miss a client call, try and return the call as quickly as possible. If you’re stuck and haven’t got the time, send a quick email and apologise for not being able to speak to them. In your email offer a possible alternative time when you will be able to call them back.

3. It goes without saying that you should avoid missing deadlines wherever possible but try and deliver jobs early if you can. A good practice is to do all the small jobs and amendments first thing in the morning. That way they will be cleared and out of the way, leaving your head clear to work on that big project for the rest of the day.

The moral of this tale… give all your clients the 5 star treatment, not just the high paying ones, you never know who they know!

Please Share Your Thoughts?

Do you have any stories of small clients paying off big. How do you prioritize your clients? Do you limit your intake of “small” clients? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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