COMMITTING a CLIENT for JOB

Post 489  by Gautam Shah

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For a young and fresh professional, a new client is like a girl (or boy) friend. You look for the right occasion and mood to propose. And perhaps discuss the terms and conditions. The client may not run away, but will also not indicate any commitment. A fresh professional is always very eager to secure the job, and may not wish to disturb the budding but fragile relationship with the client. But a client detests any formalization of relationship so early with an age-old excuse, ‘does not fully know the professional yet’. That translates to the reality that client wants to delay the decision. Clients are also shrewd enough to have a free taste of thing to come before formalizing the relationship.

When a professional and client decide to establish a relationship, it usually occurs very gradually. An established professional will not show any haste. Rather, express a desire to know more about the project and perhaps the client, before establishing a relationship. All seasoned professionals expect new clients to be familiar with the design field and their projects. This is quite different from fresh professionals who are required to establish their bonafide.

All design professionals (fresh and established) need to know, if they decide to take on a project —what will be their gain, and if they do not take a project —would there be a loss ? To accommodate (accept) an odd project or unusual client, a professional may not only shed profits, but end-up disturbing the routine work and culture of the practice.

Ecrivains_consult_-_Texte_4_mainsFor all professionals, requisition of a formal commitment (consent) from a client, for a job, is a very difficult exercise. Formal commitment binds a professional to deliver the expected services. A professional begins a job, by investing in labour, stationary and intellectual skills. Whereas, a client awaits with uncertainty whether the professional will at all deliver the project with required quality, and in time. When a professional fails to deliver, not only client’s time, but effort expended reaching to this stage are wasted. Clients’ time and efforts both are non-calculable and recoverable entities. And when the client fails to appreciate a professional’s work, all the labour, stationary and intellectual skills are wasted. Few of these can ever be determined.

A variety of problems manifest, till a client formally commits a job to the professional. In case of an individual client (private), only a personal whim can cause a problem in the job. In case of a client representing a formal or informally constituted group, the leader’s relations and position with the group, if changes, it can necessitate recasting of negotiations. In case of group clients or committees, all decisions and actions are necessarily formal, and so job commitment is not a major problem, though there are inevitable delays.

Pic Wikipedia Uploaded by russavia, Author: Richter Frank-Jurgen

Ideally a client and a professional should enter into a contract as per the law of the land. But a contract is a very formal expression of intent. It is too much to expect a client and a professional to formalize their relationship with a contract, when they hardly know each other, or have not formulated the project. Just the same, even in the absence of a contract, they must nurture the relationship. In a normal course this is not very difficult, as both the parties are willing. However, at a later stage if there is a problem, either of the parties may refuse to recognize the fact that there was a budding relationship between them. In such a situation a professional will lose all that was invested in understanding, preliminary working, planning of the project. This could include not only labour, stationary but patent ideas. On the other hand a client will never recover the time that wasted in searching, identifying, convincing the professional and waiting for solution.

Angelo Litrico 1957 Italian fashion designer

It is very natural that clients and professional are extremely careful about things they say and do. For a professional, (who is operating in the absence of a very formal commitment), it is necessary to create an evidence that, a client did commit the job or at least was aware that the professional is working on it. The evidence in such a case is usually circumstantial. Circumstantial evidences are not generally tenable in court of law, unless corroborated by other circumstantial or real evidences.

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Best commitment, next to a legal contract is payment of a Retainer amount. A retainer fee, however small, signifies establishment of a relationship, between a client and a professional. (retainer amount or fee should not be confused with retention money). Ideally a retainer amount should be large enough to cover not only the labour, stationary and skill, but the cost of patent (original or exclusive) ideas required to generate a schematic design (or such other stage when fees again become due). The cost of patent or unique idea is collected at first go, because a unique idea or a concept once exposed to an outsider like a client, loses its originality and so the value.

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HOW DO PROFESSIONALS and CLIENTS SEEK EACH OTHER ?

Post 484  by Gautam Shah

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Professionals and clients seek each other in a variety of ways. A client can go about it without any inhibitions, whereas a professional can go about it with certain restrictions, depending on the type ethics followed by the profession. Client and professional come to know about each other primarily through intermediaries like friends, relatives and so on. However, in a rare case, the client may contact a professional directly after seeing or experiencing the work as a real entity, sketch or a publication about it.

CLIENTS’ approach

A lay-person as an Individual is always free to appoint any person as an adviser or helper for the professional services. Here no Government regulations or rules of the professional bodies like council or guild can be operative. Perhaps by dealing with ‘unrecognized professional’ one may not get legal protection or redressal.

When an organization, as a client is not allowed, or authorized to deal with any professional, on a person to person basis; a process for an appropriate selection of a professional is required. The process of selection begins with invitations offered to:

  • any competent member of society,
  • member of bodies with a certain level of competence
  • members of a body who necessarily have certain level of competence.
  • persons belonging to a certain geographical region, experience, age, sex, nationality, religion.

For complex jobs, selection of a professional is done through a competition, wherein professionals are required to tackle certain essential components of the job, or offer a holistic concept towards the issue.

Intermediary

A client may not contact a professional, unless there is some foreknowledge, reference or suggestion by someone. This usually comes through another professional, like a financial adviser. Members of the society usually know where and how to locate professionals of well established or traditional fields. However, in newer branches of human skills, the professional and the client do not have an appropriate forum to interact. In such situations, the intermediary professionals help to bring together the potential clients and professional.

PROFESSIONALS’ approach

A professional on realizing a person’s potential as a client, may seek the person directly or through a mutual acquaintance or a friend. However, if the person concerned is a potential client in the official capacity (employed official of Government or private organization), than an official appointment with the clear declaration of intent is necessary.

A professional can seek a client in a variety of ways. Most of the professional bodies regulate a professional’s exposure and consequently the behaviour with the society in general and with potential clients in particular. Many professional bodies discourage direct advertisements by professionals to seek clients and assignments. “An advertisement however effective cannot project the professionalism or the competence of a professional”. It provides an undue advantage to the user.

Lawyer of the years

Most professional organizations believe that professionals should receive jobs in proportion to their professionalism and not their capacity to project through media. Paying out any consideration or any promise to that effect, to procure a job is also considered unethical. Problems of this ground arise; when a person is a client on the basis of the official position (so is capable of selecting / appointing and compensating a professional).

1024px-Consultation_-_Health_Check-up_Camp_-_Howrah_Swamiji_Sangha_-_Dumurjala_-_Howrah_2015-04-12_7598Cultivation of social contact is the most common method for a professional to come into contact with a potential client. Other Personal approaches include, specific letters, generalized bulletins, telephonic calls and face to face meetings. The impression created through a meeting or telephonic call may not be of desired type and intensity. Letters are very objective, last longer but have to be brief to be effective. Professionals get clients from other professionals. Here their competence is assured by the referring person.

Bio-data or resume is ever lasting, and very effective medium of exposure. Bio-data may contain basic information about the person, professional achievements and competence. Bio-data could be a very specific document, prepared (tailor made) for a potential client or could also be a generalized document that may serve to a set of potential clients with similar needs. Bio-data could be a very general introduction, good for any person whether potential client or a lay person.

A bio-data that is tailor made, may reveal or emphasize data that is relevant to that particular exposure. Concealment or non emphasis of data in such a bio-data is intentional and is generally not unethical though could be malafide. General bio-data tends to create impression of a commodity pamphlet. Creative professionals generally do not favour this type of medium. Internet has become an ideal medium for placing a Bio-data. A digital document is very flexible and accessible worldwide.

In dealings with clients, what kinds of behaviour, actions or attitude are considered as unethical, malafide or bad, varies from country to country, region to region, profession to profession, and time to time. In professions where rules regarding behaviour have not been formalized, it may vary even from a professional to professional.

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PROFILING CLIENTS

Post 262 – by Gautam Shah

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For a Designer, knowing a client is the beginning of a Design process. Clients come to a professional, because they need help of a skilled person but would rely on a person with predictable and socially acceptable behaviour. On the other side professionals, to profess their skills, need assignments with compensation. Clients and Professionals are mutually dependent.

Fashion Designer WW-II time

Clients are handicapped persons. They have limited capacity to solve their problems, quickly, economically or efficiently. Clients, even if expert in the field, are sometimes not allowed to profess that branch of the skill. Clients are handicapped at several levels. Clients have no awareness of their needs or assets. Clients do not know who can solve their problem. Issues faced by a client are fairly complex, as things are not readily available, easily selectable or producible. Clients have no means to justify their decisions.

Paolo Martin on Board

Clients are often incapacitated for taking certain decisions and actions by any extraneous causes (such as the Government officials), and so cannot use their own skills.

Clients wishing to hire services of an expert, have no competence of checking the suitability of a professional for the job. Therefore, a client may have to retain an intermediary to find and hire an appropriate professional. The job of the intermediary agent here is like that of any other competent and socially acceptable person, the professional.

Clients 1

Clients come to a professional with varying levels of awareness, as to what a professional could and should do.

1 At a very basic level a client is guided by a well wisher or friend. Such a person may not have encountered or dealt with a professional of such a type. Such clients are curious about the decision forming process, and given a chance appreciate the professional’s contribution.

2 Some clients due to their previous exposure or knowledge are acutely aware of significance of a professional’s work. These are participatory, clients, ready for intervention. Professional create situations where such clients seem to contribute to decisions, and their participation is acknowledged.

3 Clients who are well experienced and masters of their worlds, know the product and the process to achieve it, but seldom have the time or inclination for accomplishing the same. Such expert clients may consider a professional to be just a service provider, and not necessarily a unique creative person. The Professional in these circumstance is required to manage the over-interference, maintain an objective detachment, and consistently prove the professional supremacy or distinction.

4 Some clients seem to be very detached or unapproachable, due to lack of time, or understanding of the subject. The initial hesitance, however, may get replaced with sharp comments on seeing the first proposal.

5 Client representing an organization may not show distinct interest so as to limit their involvement. Their comments though may come formally and little belatedly.

Clients coming to a professional are of many types:

■ AN INDIVIDUAL CLIENT: At simplest level a client represents own-self or the family. Such a client is very real and visible in personality. Such individual clients are easy to deal being accessible for feedback.

Professional and Client -one to one contact

■ SPECIFIC GROUP OF PERSONS AS CLIENT: Clients representing a specific group such as the partnership firms, private or limited companies, corporations, societies, associations, some government departments and semi-government organizations. A specific group has members who have formed the group on their own initiative, or have joined a suitable existing group. The designated leader or a small group of representatives invariably have the authority to represent their group. So collectively they behave almost like an individual client. It is not very difficult for a professional to generalize and determine the nature of the specific group as a client.

Informal Group clients

■ GENERAL (NON-SPECIFIC) GROUP OF PEOPLE AS CLIENT: These are set of people or beneficiaries, classified per certain logical norms, and are represented by a public organization, a government appointee, a public leader, etc. The members or beneficiaries need not be aware of their being a party to the group. Person/s who represent such generalized (non-specific) group functions as a client with or without their mandate. The representative of the group could be a job assigning client, in addition to perhaps approving and funding authority. The real -user client (of the project) are invisible and sometimes hypothetical. Since the hypothetical user-client is not interacting, direct feedback is not possible. In such a case, the professional has to define the identity and representative characteristics of the client. The professional is also required to predict the type of response, such hypothetical (unreal and an invisible) client would generate.

Besides these categorizations, modern day professionals have to deal with clients of different behaviour.

9577900347_ba976725df_z USER CLIENTS: Nominally clients are actual users or consumers. They directly use the entity created or derive the benefits from the ideas or concept generated by the professional. Such clients, if properly identified, and if can be approached, provide the right feedback.

■ ASSIGNING CLIENTS: A client could be a person just assigning the job, like a government official, but who may not use the entity created or derive any consumer benefit. Often an active citizen may generate a debate in the society for an issue, and ultimately provide sufficient leadership input to become the de-facto conceiver, convener and executioner of the project.

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■ NON CLIENTS OR MULTI CLIENTS: Complex projects have no single or identifiable personality or agency to act as a client. The project gets evolved as conglomerate or a consortium of multi-lateral agencies, often with conflicting interests. There may be several part conveners, sponsors, owners. Professional as a coordinator has to serve with sheer professionalism that can be checked by any audit agency.

■ MARKETING OR OTHER SPECIALISTS AS CLIENTS: In many instances a professional is required to serve a large number of consumer clients, who remain isolated not just due to their large number and variation, but also due to their location. Definition of a client is derived by marketing or other contact specialists. These definitions are invariably very specific, though coloured by the agency that forms such views. It becomes very difficult to pinpoint the failures in the product, which may be due to either initial faulty definitions or wrong professional work. A Professional working as a client to another professional (marketing person) also gets a very precise brief to operate.

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Clients are easy to deal, if are real, singular, grouped and well organized. Clients are not very difficult to handle even when are invisible or generalized, but are well defined. Professionals’ work moves very fast and efficiently, when clients’ feedback is certain or predictable. Professional out put for organized and well-defined clients is not only very relevant, but survives or functions better.

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