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Banter Nightmare customers

5 ‘potential customer’ red flags

We’ve all been there. You’re standing talking to a potential customer when that warning light in your head starts going off. I call it my bullsh%& omen detector, but other people call them red flags. 

A red flag is when somebody does something that immediately gives you the impression that they’re going to be a royal pain in the arse in the long run. Whether you carry on after that is up to you, but you have been warned. 

Red Flag 1 – The overly pedantic    

Obviously, everybody wants a job done right, but some are just eternally dissatisfied. You can call it pedantic, picky, fussy – or just plain bloody annoying – and it can be a difficult situation to work under.  

But it probably depends on just how pedantic somebody is being before you consider running for the hills. 

Red Flag 2 – The Micromanager

I’m sure everybody has had one of those jobs where the client tries to hover over your shoulder every second while “checking how things are going”. This can be infuriating for two main reasons; the first is that it’s not pleasant having your work scrutinised while still in progress (we’re not in school anymore) and secondly, the person hovering over you probably has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. If you ever want to freak out a micromanager, finish the job you’re doing, straighten up, then ask, “so what’s next?”

Red Flag 3 – The Scrimper 

Alarm bells should be ringing if somebody repeatedly brings up that they don’t have a lot of money or that there are some unseen financial possibilities. I don’t want to overgeneralise and say that all people who do it are trying to lay the groundwork for inevitable ‘money problem’ talk later in the job, but it certainly happens. 

Red Flag 4 – The ‘Anxious Arnold’

This doesn’t always need to be a huge issue, but certainly, something to bear in mind. Even before Covid-19, there were plenty of people who were – how can I say this delicately, a little on edge. That’s fine if it doesn’t affect those around them, but we’ve all come across those clients who are a constant bag of nerves and anxieties. 

This doesn’t mean that they don’t have legitimate reasons to be anxious, but when it affects those around them, it can create a difficult atmosphere to work in for a long period.

Red Flag 5 – The straight-up shady individual

Lastly, there are always going to be people who are looking to gain an advantage – sometimes even over other people. If somebody starts off by telling you that they don’t need permits or planning permission or immediately starts pressing you to do the job under the table, you can normally quickly determine that they’ve got all of the ethics of an East German weightlifter from the 1980s.

We certainly don’t all need to be saints, but this is probably one of the more serious red flags. It doesn’t take a scientist to see that working with this kind of person can lead to numerous problems. 

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