Last week, I had the opportunity to take the Rock Your Clients workshop with Dave Billings, the genius behind Sparky Firepants Images. This half-day workshop covered the important client management issues for people in creative businesses.
I met David through email when I heard about the course. He immediately struck me as a white hat cowboy, one of the good guys. After spending most of a day with him, I can confirm that my first impressions were dead on. David is practical and all about doing smart business, but he comes from his heart. That’s a high recommendation from me.
The workshop covered some unexpected and interesting ground. David didn’t just give us a list of things to do and things to never do. He explained a strategy for understanding your client’s real needs and how to fit that into your business relationship. He covered lots of practical things, too, like guidelines for making yourself accessible to your clients by phone and email. He covered thorny topics like project scope creep, and what to do when your project slips into limbo.
Not only did David share from his own client experiences, but he engaged the class to share their challenges and solutions. It was great to hear people from a wide range of creative businesses talking about the business challenges that we normally don’t discuss in polite company. In other words, it was real and honest and quite helpful.
I was excited by some of the new ideas I heard in the workshop for handling specific client management issues like scope creep. I’m a small business owner, and many of my clients are small business owners. When there is a gap between what was contracted and the reality of what needs to happen, of course I’m going to collaborate with them to create the solution. But some of the tips I learned will help me make smarter negotiations with my clients, which can only improve my business bottom line while I’m keeping my clients happy.
If you ever get the chance to take this workshop or any workshop with David Billings, I highly recommend it. In fact, if you ever get the chance to just hang with him at a tweetup or creative meetup, do it. He’s a great guy, and you’ll be happy to add him to your business network. I only wish that he spent more time in Phoenix so I could spend more face time with him. But who knows. Maybe I’ll get to spend more time in Portland in the future.