Dealing with a Difficult Client


Heisenberg

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Hi guys

I hope I am creating this post in the right forum. I am not sure.

Where to start. First, Earlier this year I decideed to launch a local seo/sem business. I had previous experience as an affiliate marketer doing global seo. I stopped for a couple of years.

I created my local web presence and ranked well in my town. I found a client and helped him rank for free. He got one first page ranking on a laser targeted keyword term. Then he decided not to launch this summer as his business partner quit.

In May I get a call from a desperate business owner who is almost ready to close their doors.

They had an Adwords campaign that was spiraling out of control. They were indexed in the organic listings but they had no first page rankings. There GMB was a mess. A previous address. I was able to update the GMB and eventually get their Adwords campaign performing much better. Our organic and map listings are really picking up. I have a good 15 to 20 search phrases on the first page of Google and for some they have listings in the 7 pack also.

We are only averaging hust under 4 visitors a day between organic listings and 7 pack. Considering these keywords on Adwords are costing between $4 and $10 a click. It's not bad and I know we can improve.

Here is the real problem:

My client is a good hearted guy but he has all kinds of personal and business issues. To help him out the last couple of months, I have sunk a ton of time into his business, first month he paid me $320 second month, $200 and last month $150.

Now things are really starting to take off for him, he has landed a few jobs that are over $5000. and has steady small $500 to $1000, jobs coming in. He has told me that soon he will pay me well.

Everytime he has a pop up on his pc he calls me. When his webshost sends him any kind of message he calls. When he has a slow day he calls.

He gets me over to his place for too many meetings. He wants me to write ads to get workers and I have.

He even wants me to alert him when his Adwords ad spend hits $650 dollars because they bill him at $750.

He had a developer/seo guy a few years back and fired himn 2 years ago. He thinks that he has been hacked and that's why his business has lost money. I have tried to tell him many times, he hasn't been hacked. He let his campaigns degrade over time. Every time I think I have "reached him" He goes back to "a hacker cost me $150,000 in business"

Part of the reason he believes this, he has pissed off former empoyees and they go on his website and send all kinds of nasty and harassing messages. In his mind it's "the hacker" I am not sure if these messages are all from one person but appareently this has been going on for two or 3 years.

He has called the police. Today he has a meeting at his bank and will be getting the "fraud squad" at the bank to look into this.

His form on his website does not track IP addresses and we had a developer at a distance but he hasn't solved this issue.

He told me to check the logs at his webhosting company. I tried to today because he had 2 nasty messages yesterday at 3:56 pm. The logs are a GZ file. I downloaded 7zip. It will not open the log file. I tried a few freee online tools and none of them worked. More of my time is out the window and this is taking a huge toll on me.

Does anyone know if log files still contain ip addresses, maybe I am wasting time for nothing??

I have used my rankings, the first client's ranking and his rankings to build a portfolio. Now I have interest from a prospect through Elance. I have a skype meeting with him tonight. I also started posting gigs in micro marketplaces similar to Fiverr. I have been getting some sales. Some of these sales could turn into future clients.

I need to place boundaries on the client who is going through drama and turmoil and adding drama and turmoil to my life. At this point I think if I do I will lose him. He was great for building a portfolio but the amount of time I have sunk in compared to the money I have made. I may have come out with less than $5 an hour.

Now that things are picking up for him and all my work is paying off for him. There is still a ton of drama and confusion. Any feedback would be a great help! Thanks
Rob
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Rob and thanks for posting.

Oh dear, that sounds like a really challenging client.

BUT it also sounds like you trained him well. ;) (Allowed him to take advantage of you too many times.)

I can't type too much right now because I'm crippled up, but here's a great post that might help.

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/consultants-corner/1169-just-say-no-bad-local-search-engine-optimization-clients-let-them-walk.html">Just Say No to Bad Local SEO Clients - Let them Walk!</a>

Best of luck with this one and here's to finding more and better new clients!

Anyone else been in Rob's shoes or have any advice?
 

hollypowell

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Rob,

It's okay to fire difficult clients - I agree with Linda. You've let him use/abuse you long enough.

I have had difficult clients and just walked away - they even got to keep the website(s) I built because it was just not worth dealing with the constant phone calls, emails, excuses.

Move on and by doing so you'll free up some time to find a few dream clients.
 
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I think we have all been through this situation at some point Heisenberg and it sucks. Can I ask you one question? Why are you so hesitant to lose a client that pays you $5 an hour? You've been sucked into a toxic relationship with this person and everything you are saying says break away.

Even though this is a challenging situation for you something tells me your going to learn a lot from this. It sounds like you have done a great job for him...I mean business.. and now you can pass that expertise on to other businesses. This is why its so important to draw up contracts. It helps both parties stay on track. It sets boundaries.

I tell you what...I will be up in Toronto to shoot a concert this coming Friday. I will buy you a beer if you drop him.
 

Heisenberg

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Thanks you guys. What you're saying makes sense. I guess I stuck it out for so long for a few reasons. First I wanted to turn his business around and make it successful. Second, the promise of more money when that happens. It is coming together now. Third, I thought once things start turning around I would have a break from him and that would free up time. Third, it has helped me learn and build a portfolio. I think you guys are bang on and I should drop him.

Thanks for the advice I do appreciate it. Dustybones I am a half hour away from Toronto, not far at all. I could really use a beer :)
 

CodyBaird

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Heisenberg
You will be doing a lot of work for "free" or at least it feels that way. Funny thing is, I bet you don't mind the pay as much as that feeling - lack of appreciation.

I recommend that you decide which arrangement would make you happy and then propose that to him. I recommend hourly for this guy or maybe a monthly retainer/payment against (?) activities.

I found that I painted myself into most corners. It's cool. It's how you learn. Keep charging forward. Set more boundaries. Fire clients that REPEATEDLY break them and put that extra time and effort into the relationships that value you LONGTERM. Good luck.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
 
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