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Dealing with Arrogant Clients

The clients, being our employers and the key financiers in projects, tend to be insidious at certain times. This is very common during the project conception phase, when the project planning is in motion. As the experienced consultant, I am sure that you had your fair share of dealings and agree that not all of them are cooperative.

Firstly, achieving the milestone of being a consultant is not an easy task. There should be no room for negotiations for such `kind` charges, as you worked hard for that specific reward. Secondly, you are the party with the required information and advice. You bear the responsibility and never bend to demands outside the professional order of practice. That being said, I assume that, as the consultant, you best gauge your client from the briefing stage. If the situation is erratic, abandon the mission with immediate effect. Feeling sorry for the client and being desperate for a project will mess up your career.

It’s also safe to note that clients are often insecure about their finances, especially the sole financiers. This is mainly because there are untrustworthy consultants we hear of every day or who meet with the wrong advisors prior to your counsel. For instance, foremen are known to tell clients that consultants ask for `unnecessary` sums of money and are therefore inconvenient to approach. This messes up the psychology of the client, who ends up concluding that the consultant is the fraud in his plans. This is the precursor to animosity between the client and consultants.

In my practice, I choose to settle on two very clear strategies. Firstly, restrict the authority of the client only to the briefing. Don’t give the client too much power because, as you know, you are first protecting him against himself. Let him speak his mind and ideas as he narrates the house of his dreams, but not tell you how to do your work afterwards! This is the cardinal rule of management. Apart from financing and briefing, the direct influence of the client on the project should be limited.

The young professionals are terrified of such procedures because they fear losing clients because they will miss out on being part of the project, and obviously because of the petty sums offered. Never fear losing the client; it’s part of the job. You dare charge unworthy sums; you are also an accomplice in undermining the integrity of your relevant professional designation. Furthermore, most clients are usually aware that projects are capital-intensive investments and come prepared. The cries and stubbornness you experience are just mind games to salvage as many discounts as possible. It’s not real.


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Secondly, embrace the use of contracts to legitimize some of your agreements. The first item here is payments, followed by quality assurance. Where payments are not in lump sums, always demand 60% of your defined sum in advance, especially for project managers. I also recommend you put in writing all site visit costs agreed upon as well as any other necessary allowances. You are also to agree that the quality of work is not to be interfered with in any way because, in case of building failures, the consultant is held responsible. Such interference may result from the misinformation supplied by the foreman regarding reducing the quantity of materials or substituting the designed quality altogether. There may also be future inflation in materials.

Having these agreements in writing helps to ensure that the client remains disciplined regardless of the situation. This will be a win-win event. Remember, this is an agreement between the client and consultant or contractor, where necessary, and must be signed in the presence of a witness of common consideration from both sides.

Dearest client, I am the professional who has the information you require. Kindly listen and adhere to my advice and instructions. It is for your own good. I cannot invent information out of the bushes. I have repeatedly mastered the skill for several years for me to dedicate it to you. Therefore, let me do my work responsibly with no unnecessary interference, as you reward me with what I deserve.