The Story of My Worst Client EVER


Bringing on a new client often has its challenges. It takes time to develop a strong relationship to the point where you both trust and understand one another. I consider myself very lucky to work with a number of amazing clients, many of which I even consider to be friends. With that being said, in September, I started planning an event for a new client that is rarely ever satisfied or happy, despite my best efforts.

Below is list of some of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to face with this client, and this event, and some of the lessons learned along the way. Hopefully they help you avoid some of the challenges I’ve encountered so far.    

1. It’s All About The Budget

To say this client is budget conscience is an understatement. When it comes to the budget for this event, their motto is “it better be cheap like borscht”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand where they are coming from – they are paying for the entire event themselves and want to manage costs. But if you ask me, demanding (and expecting) free liquor from the venue is a bit ridiculous. 

I’ve learned the best way to deal with tight purse strings is to set clear expectations at the beginning and get approval before moving forward. Once the budget is approved, you can still shift things around as needed if you want to spend a bit more in one area, but at least this way you have an overall price and can make cash-conscious decisions.

2. Blurred Vision

This client could benefit from some corrective lenses, or maybe they’ve had one too many complimentary cocktails, I’m not sure.

I am constantly dealing with conflicting opinions on basically everything. From flowers to food, it’s different opinions abound – as long as it’s the best for the least amount of money. It’s unclear who has the final decision and we have spent months going back and forth on something so simple as the venue. Even once a decision is made, the client questions everything, and has trouble moving forward without input from different stakeholders. Basically, there are too many cooks in the kitchen all trying to make a gourmet meal at a fast food price.

As with the budget, establishing key stakeholders at the start of the project is critical to success. Figure out who has final say and if needed, make sure to get decisions in writing. This can help you avoid going back and forth reworking aspects of the event you thought had been finalized.

3. The Type-A Personality and the Perfectionist

Everyone wants their event to be perfect, and I get it, so do I. Each event is a representation of me, so I’m going to give it my all and try my best for you. Even so, working with someone who has a Type-A personality and demands nothing but perfection can be challenging on many levels. It’s easy for them to get caught up in the details and fixate on certain aspects of the event.

Help your client see the big picture by taking care of the small details for them – ultimately that’s why they hired you. Provide them with set options to choose from and their corresponding budgets. This allows them to weigh the pros and cons of each and make a decision easily.

4. The End is (not so) Near

This event is still a year away. Really. Even so, it seems like everything has to be done and finalized immediately or the world is going to end. You might think I’m being dramatic, but getting the save the dates sent out has been nothing short of an apocalyptic event. Between the design of the email blast and finalizing the guest list, the client continues to have a bird over milestones that are still quite far out.

Breaking the event down into smaller tasks can help make project milestones seem more achievable. Instead of focusing on sending out the save the date, make the first goal to complete an initial draft of the guest list. From there you can start narrowing down (or in this case adding) guests based on stakeholder feedback. Set goals and deadlines for each milestone and stick to them. This will help eliminate some of the pressure and stress associated with critical project deliverables.

5. Little Know It All

Every so often you come across a client who thinks they know everything and refuses to listen to your suggestions. The only thing you can do in this case is just give in and do exactly what they want. This is something I would normally never say, but sometimes all the sacrifices are worth it, be it for the money, the prestige or the profile of the event and the doors it can open for you down the road.

Or, you could just tell the client to take a hike get out of your office and never return. Normally I would never dream of doing such a thing, but a girl can only take so much, so that’s exactly what I did with this particular client.

As good as it felt, trust me, there’s a downside: If anyone knows an event planner specializing in destination weddings where the budget is tight, the client is a Type-A perfectionist with no clear vision that still insists she knows best and the save-the-dates still haven’t gone out… please let me know… my event manager just told me she quit.

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