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  1. #1
    Member Jason Wilson's Avatar
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    I have just cofounded a small business with a partner and today I recieved my first call from a customer. I want to be excited but I am also slightly concerned. I know my site doesn't rank high on the search engines yet and I know that I am only on one or two directories listed as a local business. But somehow the client that found us, found us from India.

    I spoke to him on the phone for a few minutes and asked him to email me because I was uncertain of whether we can even do business from a legal standpoint (I'm now fairly certain we can). Several things have me wondering how far we should try and go with this customer.

    First off, if we were to take the client on, and they wern't to pay, what recourse do we have and how much trouble will that be.

    Second off, the client uses an email with one english name, but addressed himself as the same last name and a different first name, both names were very english names (which I am not sure of).

    We want customers, and we don't want to cast doubt, we just want to make absolutely certain that we are dealing with legit people and know how to protect ourselves.

    Does anyone have any advice?
    Go n-ithe an cat thu is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member beachkitty85's Avatar
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    This is a really difficult subject that I've had to deal with a few times. When I first started my business I was very naive and assumed everyone was honest, but the truth is that some people are out to screw you over. I suggest going with your gut instinct. Also, depending on the type of busines you own, you may be able to ask for a deposit. If the customer objects then you can say "Sorry, but that's our policy". Hope my advice helped!
    Christina Van Dyke

    CRV Designs
    Apex, NC
    www.crv-designs.com

  4. #3
    Member Jason Wilson's Avatar
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    It does, thank you.

    That is where I was leaning. My gut was to turn them down. Actually, on later thought I realised we weren't equipped wel enough knowledge-wise to implement what they were asking without about a month to study up on it so I was going to advise them to find a more experienced shop.

    Interestingly, the email has disappeared off of our servers though so I can't even respond.


    Also, it has made me of the opinion that we may have to iclude a clause in our contracts that will hold content and rights hostage until we have a final payment. But that is down the road a little bit.
    Go n-ithe an cat thu is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.

  5. #4
    Senior Member beachkitty85's Avatar
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    I think it would be wise to include that into your contract. I have something very similar in my own.
    Christina Van Dyke

    CRV Designs
    Apex, NC
    www.crv-designs.com

  6. #5
    Senior Member planetgman's Avatar
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    Every, and I can't stress "every enough........every web designer should be asking for a deposit.
    Even with friends and family. Run your business professionally at all times.

    I do agree with BeachKitty in that you should be getting a deposit and you should have a contract.
    My company has terms of 50% down and 50% on publishing to the web. It is even less of an issue if you are setting up hosting and posting it to the web.
    Worst case is if the client doesn't pay you, then you just take it down (until they do).
    You won't win any repeat business, but you will probably get paid.

    Also, you should have a business plan and contract in place before you set up shop. Having both will help you in the long run.
    You should also be asking "how did you hear about us" with every customer. This way you can see what marketing is working for you or maybe where you need to look at promoting your business more.

    Lastly, don't be cynical in that you think that customers are out to screw you over. From a customer service standpoint all it will do is limit how many customers you may take on. If you think something is wrong or doesn't seem right, then ask. Ask in a courteous manner.

    Saying "sorry, that is our policy" is probably the biggest mistake you can ever make from a customer service standpoint. You should never be saying that to a client and especially when you own the business.
    Talk to them, get the details and give them "options".
    Example: "here is what I can do for you". Based on the information (or location or whatever applies) here is what we CAN DO:
    - We can take you on with a deposit (of a set amount) or we can do a mock up, send it to you and then go from there.
    Or if you want to back out, have an attorney explain your legal options to you with a company in another country. It may be too big of a risk for you to even consider.
    Obviously, every scenario is different but you should never quote "policy" when you are the one writing it.
    Even if you weren't, it is still one of the top three things to never say to a customer.
    GMan

  7. #6
    Senior Member planetgman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Wilson
    Also, it has made me of the opinion that we may have to iclude a clause in our contracts that will hold content and rights hostage until we have a final payment. But that is down the road a little bit.
    That should be standard in any contract (holding final publishing rights).
    If your contract isn't in place already, you really shouldn't be out looking for clients. You will never know when you find one.
    A good contract will run you about $150 with an attorney. It will save you a lot more grief (and money) in the long run.

    Also, potential customers do frequent this site. Do you really want to state that you hold something hostage until they pay? hahaha.

    It sounds like you are doing the basic groundwork and you do have a plan. You just need to prepare your contract now for "worst case scenarios".

    Good luck with your business......
    GMan

  8. #7
    Senior Member beachkitty85's Avatar
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    Jason, what the heck doesn 'Go n-ithe an cat thu is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat' mean?
    Christina Van Dyke

    CRV Designs
    Apex, NC
    www.crv-designs.com

  9. #8
    Member Jason Wilson's Avatar
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    Thanks for your advice guys.

    BeachKitty: I'm half-heartedly attempting to learn Scottish Gaelic, in a moment of boredom I found what is quite possibly the most interesting curse ever uttered "May the cat eat you and may the cat be eaten by the devil." Not sure why I have it as a signature other than as a conversation starter of sorts.

    PlanetGMan: I actually worried about posting this question up. But I figured the fastest way I had available to get in touch with people who have been there is with WDF.
    It is interesting though, because I am starting to actively think about what I am posting everywhere because 9 times out of 10 I have a link in my profile or somewhere back to my personal site, which links back to my business site.

    Some places, like Digg, I end up losing my patience with someone and don't watch my language. Currently one of those lapses has a higher ranking in google than my company. oops.
    Go n-ithe an cat thu is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.

  10. #9
    Senior Member tonyf12's Avatar
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    I think that should be tý instead of thu (thats Irish Gaelic though) in your signature

  11. #10
    Junior Member
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    Take care - have a contract.
    Beware the firm who wants you to research and discover 'if this or that' would be work for them.
    They will only will not want to pay after you have spent days on research and written your report - they will not want to pay for the research!
    Some years ago I spent ages on a project (6 months with long hours) I achieved what they wanted - but the technology was not then fast enough for the program ( I had told them this right at the start).
    They expect me to do another project for them (they were very happy with the report and the program but would wait to implement it when the anticipated upgrades occured). I was expected to wait 6-12 months to be paid when technology caught up with their ambitions - and continue to work unpaid to provide my company with 'good references'. I felt I had enough personal 'good references' and departed.
    They never paid and later used the code - I had done the bit their own programmers could not do.


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