Jessica Powers June 21, 2021 at 11:05 AM 7 min read

Event Clients You Should Turn Down

While we all like to think we can handle whatever clients come our way, there are some clients who aren’t worth the risk to your company’s reputation and/or your own sanity. In these cases, it’s better to turn down a job than to take the chance that things might turn out okay. While we believe that challenges can help you learn and grow, there’s a difference between a challenge and a bad situation. While you may technically get a payday out of working with a bad client, after you factor in the additional time they require, team morale, risk of bad reviews, and the risk of a dispute being filed...it’s just not worth it!

We’ve compiled a list of problem clients types that are relatively common to the event industry. There’s a high likelihood of frustration, problems, and headaches with these client types, plus the above-average risk of bad reviews, credit card disputes, and flopped events. Unless you are truly well-equipped to handle them, we suggest turning down the event. 

The client who can’t afford you

You will get clients who cannot afford your rates; it’s important that you don’t offer them a discount just so you can take the job. Once word gets out that you will work outside of your going rates, no one will pay full price again. Charging less will also compromise the perception of your value; discounted rates will often be viewed as the real value of your work.

The DIY obsessed client

I’m a big fan of DIY, but clients who want everything DIY will likely run into serious deadline trouble. This will leave you scrambling, and possibly failing, to make up for their incomplete projects in time for the event. DIY always takes longer than you think, and people rarely account for that in their planning. 

The negative client

We’ve all met them; they complain about everything and nothing is ever good enough. That means all of your hard work won’t be good enough, either. If the client spends a significant portion of their consultation bad mouthing other planners or rental companies, run. They’ll likely do the exact same thing to you...probably in the form of reviews all over the internet and telling all of their friends. 

The unrealistic client

This is not the same as clients with a tight budget. No, these people want you to pull off a wedding worth of a couture magazine on a three thousand dollar budget. If you cannot bring them back to reality and have them still be happy, it’s time to move on. 

The helicopter client 

These clients want to micromanage everything. They will second guess your every choice and expect you to drop everything any time they have a question— which will happen frequently. Their event will be far more difficult and time consuming than necessary, and expect to make many, many changes to the original plan. They’re not going to trust or respect your expertise, but they’ll also blame you when their ideas don’t work out the way they’d hoped. 

The haggling client

Also known as Bargain Hunters, these clients will try to talk down your prices at every turn. They’ll also be talking with other event rental pros to gauge their prices too. They either don’t understand the value of your work or don’t care; either way, their main concern is “getting a good deal.” This type of client will also cancel with you if they find someone with better prices, so don’t count on repeat business from them. 

The unsure client

They want a party...maybe? Different from clients who are researching prices, these clients will be difficult to get a straight answer from. They’re not confident in what they want, and they won’t be confident in any of the suggestions you make. There’s a high likelihood that there will be last minute changes due to their indecisiveness, and it’s uncertain as to whether or not they’ll be satisfied with your work.

If you’ve been in the events industry for long, we’re pretty sure you’ve already encountered at least a few of these client types. While things may have turned out okay in the end, if you had to do an event with them again, would you? Most of the people we’ve talked to answered, “no way!!!” 

If you unwittingly find yourself planning an event for one of these client types, take a deep breath. We’ve got a few tips on how to manage them here and here.

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Jessica Powers

Jessica Powers is a Data Analyst for Goodshuffle Pro, powerful business software for event companies.