115. But the Car Is Paid

Had a rather trying day with Difficult-Again-Photographer-Client, CN, and wondered as I went home with the metropolitan train how to kill.

The problems, not CN. Although the two are related.

Basically he overloads me with tasks which I can’t possibly keep up with in the 14 hours a week he has hired me.

Then he, as previously discussed here on the blog, pushes for me to do more for free, apparently categorizing it as me being “professional”.

I suppose it’s another word for delivering good customer service, if you put a positive slant on it.

If not, it’s another word for pressing me to do more, with the implied threat that if I don’t I’ll lose a customer who currently delivers 70 percent+ of my income at a time when we are having a baby, and Char is soon out of a job.

We got money, for now, so it’s not the money that concerns me. But obviously it’s a pressure point.

The interesting thing, if you can put it that way, is that part of the problem doesn’t stem from conscious cajoling to maximize his exploitation of my work-for-hire-paid-by-the-hour.

A lot is also his own bad habits, like today, when we met with his German partner and it was just to be a ‘presentation of what I was doing on the webshop’ that was to be my part in the meeting. I ended up sitting 3 hours discussing commas with them!

CN is, I’ve noticed, not particularly good at planning either, regarding his own agenda. He is constantly working hard, it seems, not smart. Acting more or less on what seems to be the most urgent …

So all of it is not ill will but the consequence is the same: I have to clean up and filter his cascades of tasks and take the rap if something was not done yesterday.

I wonder if it’s possible to educate such a man into better habits, or make him empathize with my situation?

What about knowledge? Some of it is due to his own lack of know about the technical issues regarding websites and how long it takes to fix some of them.

Some of all of this is due to his own attention to non-important matters like what he thinks is good design, no matter what customer tests may prove (and we don’t need those tests, do we?). So a lot of time can quickly be wasted here as well, and for me as well.

But maybe all of that doesn’t matter.

Maybe all it matters is that we’re back to my definition of a deal-breaker.

How much am I willing to put up with for his money?

No matter what the causes – ill will, bad habits, bad knowledge … ?

And how much am I able to filter out of his crap? Because as a friend said to me recently:

“It doesn’t matter if you have customers who complain, as long as they pay.”

I suppose that’s an interesting thought:

What if the key is here to learn to tolerate more of his complaints?

And do things in a pace that will keep me sane and then see if he actually puts his money where his mouth is?

And that place would be with someone who is cheaper, better, more reliable than me, about whom he has to complain so much to get an honest day’s work done, right?

Interesting thought. And perhaps a worthwhile thought for an entrepreneur.

Especially worthwhile if I can honestly say that I am doing my best and that 75 percent of the delays and problems come from

– his bad habits
– his lack of knowledge
– his lack of planning
– his lack of will to pay for the realistic amount of hours it takes to do all his tasks.

You know, a lot of my time has been spent cleaning up after the  developer who installed the site and made a number of technical decisions and took some shortcuts that have been problematic.

But then today the German partner asked about the developer who is in charge of translating the website, too (the technical part of it).

And I asked CN: When did you last pay the developer?

And he answered: “Well, I paid that hosting company for the rest of the year … ”

Kind of like renting a mechanic to do work and then when asked what you paid him, say that you paid another installment on your car loan.

God, I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to get the developer to answer my questions about technical issues with the site he left me, believing he was still on the active payroll.

Hours that CN then can blame me for not using on all his projects.

But what to do?

Well, aside from transplanting a new brain into the man?

Deliver more bad customer service, I guess.

Or do more disservice to my self and his own time and energy, all of which is going to be very, very limited, very very soon with a baby in the house.

And then find some more customers who have a different idea of service, of course.

After all, that’s supposed to be the good part about firing the single-job job market from your life.

And I like the good parts. I want more of them.