A recipe for success: the Perfect Client cake

When most people are looking for a service, they’ll spend plenty of time trying to get just the right person for the job. It’s a streamlined process, almost like a recipe with its clear-cut steps:

 Start with 2 heaping cups of Google for every version of “design firm” and “branding company” (or whatever you’re looking for) in your city.  Next, add a dash of modern short attention span and click through their websites and see if you can get around easily/find any attractive people who work there. Next, call 3 tablespoons of your friends for recommendations. Stir in an initial meeting or two to bargain down the prices. Sprinkle on buzzwords (like “SEO” and “digital marketing”) and see how they react. Finally, bake at 450 degrees and sign on the dotted line and get the perfect provider for your specific need.

What most people forget, then, is that there’s an equally specific art to being a great client. And more importantly, great clients are crucial to great results.

It’s funny how we often forget this, because so few businesses are operating only on one side of the service provider/client equation. You purchase goods and sell them. You pay for services to sell your services. And as a result, we all have horror stories of bad business deals on both ends. But after they’re over, we bury them away and forget the Golden Rule of Business – be the kind of client you want to have.

If you were baking a delicious cake of Perfect Client, you might follow this recipe instead:

Start with 1 cup of clear expectations of what you’re looking to get and willing to offer. (and if you aren’t sure, know the questions you need to to ask get there). Add a sprinkle of negotiating room on both ends. Stir in 2 tablespoons of email prowess – overly communicate every step of the way about any questions or concerns you have. Add two heaping cups of punctuality, remembering that your quick responses are just important to meeting deadlines as your service provider’s. Add a dash of creativity, honesty and humor to keep the process smooth. Generously drizzle trust and flexibility on top, remembering that you came to this provider for their expertise, not to do it yourself. Finally, bake at 450 degrees with mutual respect for a smooth transition of services.

A well baked Perfect Client cake leaves a service provider feeling full, satisfied and happy to help. This kind of client takes the guesswork out of the process they are paying for. That means better first drafts and fewer angry business “break-ups.” That means walking away before a bad deal is made. That means network recommendations, time saved, and fluffy whipped frosting.

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