Client Red Flags (and the worst date ever)

Buckle up, Cupcake

You’re about to start your day with a good laugh at my expense (but there’s also a valuable lesson in here).

I went on the WORST date of my life a couple of years back…

After meeting a decent-looking bloke at a social event (remember those?), we exchanged numbers and got chatting.
He seemed to hold (text) conversation nicely and sound reasonably intelligent while doing so.
After about a week of chatting, we decided to go on a lunch date.

Here’s how the date from hell unfolded:

  • 10 am, this dude calls to ask me to pick him up because his “bike is broken”.

  • He graciously let me pick the restaurant, so (naturally) I went with sushi.

  • For some reason, the first appearance of alarm bells in my head wasn’t until half an hour into lunch, when he opened up a new conversation topic: “Have you ever let out a fart in public and accidentally followed through?”

  • When I cringed and informed him that I have never in fact sharted, he graphically informed me ***in detail*** how he had.

  • After ordering an entire football team’s worth of sushi for himself, the bill comes to the table and this douche nozzle has conveniently “forgotten his wallet”.

  • THEN, the bumbling ass monkey gets upset that I didn’t want to end our “dream date” with a tumble when I dropped him off at (what I then found out was) a STUDENT RES! (The dude was 34… ie: NOT a student)

Needless to say, this guy didn’t hear from me again.

While I would like to bury this whole experience waaaaay down at the bottom of my memories-to-never-think-about-again pile, it did teach me a valuable lesson in looking out for red flags.

Humans are capable of kindness, authenticity and glorious creations (like the creation of Dr Oetker’s cheesecake), but there are also the sleazeball snot wagons of the world who come with the stench of questionable ethics and self-serving idiocy.

These mouth-breathers often seem genuine and helpful at first.

They could be introduced to you as a new potential business partner, contractor, web designer or even as a dream date. But don’t be fooled!
You’ve got to listen to your gut and look out for the red flags!

For example, I reeeeally should have picked up on:

  1. “My bike is broken”
    First of all, it wasn’t a real motorcycle. It was a scooter.
    In hindsight, this was one of the questions that I had asked earlier and he had dodged the answer to. Dodging questions is sketchy.
    Secondly, the dude hadn’t heard of UBER?
  2. “I’m in sales”
    What sales was he in, you ask?
    Toothpaste.
    You know – that MLM stuff that gullible people were posting all over Facebook a few years back with “look at my smile! It’s so white! I’m so confident! I’ll order for you if you want…” (sorry if you were one of these people, but it’s true).
    How many tubes had he sold?
    Zero.
    He was an MLM toothpaste salesman with a high score of zero tubes of toothpaste sold. Not only should this have been an indication that he was a dumbass, but it also tells me that “forgetting” his wallet may not have been an accident.
  3. All the hours of intelligent conversation
    It was me. I initiated every topic and somehow convinced myself that this dumbass offering up one or two comments on the matter was a display of intelligence. Turns out, it was a display of dumbassery on my part.

3 strikes and you’re out, buddy!

I literally could have taken these three points from our back-and-forth texts and simply not wasted any of my time with this crotch waffle. If only I had been attentive and looked out for the red flags.

The sad thing is this happens ALL THE TIME in business.
You get so focused on the “dream date” that you miss all of the red flags and bullshit spewing. Then, at the end of it all, you’re sitting there in shock wondering what the hell just happened.

When you’re running a small business, one smooth-talking ratbag could sink you.
It’s important to be attentive and look out for the red flags before making a sizable investment.

Whether you’re looking to hire a contractor to build your dream office, a web designer to create a killer website, a brand strategist to create a kickass brand or even if you’re looking at taking on a partner to share the load – here are some key red flags to look out for:

  1. Dodging questions
    If you aren’t getting straight answers, then what are they trying to hide?
  2. You’re doing all the talking
    It’s your business, so you’re obviously going to like what you’re talking about. The really important part is their contributions and the questions they ask you.
    No matter what you’re paying for, they probably need detailed information to give you what you need, right? So, if they’re not asking you questions or going deeper into your needs, whatever they give you at the end is probably going to be the equivalent of the WISH version of what you ordered…
  3. Vague details
    Read all the fine print, make sure you have everything in writing and don’t be afraid to ask HOW something is going to be gone or guaranteed.
    An honest and ethical human being won’t be afraid to talk you through it with complete transparency.
  4. Change of plans
    If the goalposts take a drastic change that gives you a bad gut feel, get the hell out of there! (Also why it’s important to have everything in writing)
  5. Too good to be true
    “We’ll build you a website that will rank number 1 on Google by tomorrow!” sounds amazing, but it’s never going to happen. And anyone who tells you it will is a liar.
    If you hear something that sounds too good to be true, take it as a cue to put on your Nancy Drew pants and ASK HOW.
    Again, if they are legit, they will be able to explain the process in a way that you can understand.

While this list could go on forever, these are the big ones to look out for.
No doubt you might recognize a couple. Maybe you’ve even been through them?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were no bad dates in business or personal lives?
Lunchtime conversations that don’t involve shitting in your pants – That’s the dream…

But, until the days of sunshine and unicorn poop are upon us, you gotta keep your wits about you.

If you are thinking of revamping your website, I’ve written this step-by-step guide to help you jump through all the red flag hoops.
For everything else, you’re going to have to use your gut.

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