Mutual Respect

So I had an enquiry in January from a fairly large, well-known company (who I’ll not name) who were interested in developing a relationship with an architectural photographer, with the possibility of 3-4 sites a month that would need photographing. Great, I thought, right up my street.

I sent a quote, and heard nothing back. I followed up a week or so later, and couldn’t get hold of the person. After a couple of weeks she called and we pencilled in a meeting for the following Wednesday – she’d get back to me with times. I heard nothing, and followed up by e-mail and phone, and couldn’t get hold of her until after the following Wednesday. She apologised, and we arranged a time for the next Wednesday. On that day, an hour or so before the meeting, I had a text checking I’d got the e-mail that morning abort cancelling. I hadn’t. Genuinely apologetic (by text), and I’m putting that one down to some unknown e-mail problem (though really, cancelling at such short notice, you make sure you get hold of the person by phone, right?). She said she’d call the next day. She never did.

A few days later I had an enquiry about a little job the following Thursday and was I available. I said yes, depending on the time. I never heard back, and followed up again by e-mail, with again no response. I called the day before, and she apologised and said she’d been out of the office, and the work was not going ahead now.

I have reason to believe the person in question is quite junior, and inexperienced, but even so this is obviously very frustrating. I’m a professional, and have been in business for 14 years. I have many clients who I work for regularly, with whom I’ve developed a level of what I would call mutual respect. Even some quite large companies (would you believe it) understand that just because I’m a sole-trader doesn’t mean I can be treated badly. They understand that because it’s just me, my time is very precious and needs to be managed very carefully. Those are the clients I enjoy working for the most, and that I’m sure get the best out of me.

Now, this is more than just a rant. Two questions:

1 – Should I say anything to this person? Unless she’s on another planet, she’ll surely have some understanding that she’s messed me around. Is it worth saying anything? Would it scupper my chances of working for the company, who are, of course, far more than just her. They remain a client that I’d like to work for, in theory.

2 – Should I write off this lead completely? On the one hand, business folk will tell you that some clients aren’t worth the hassle. They demand too much in one way or another, and it’s a false economy to think you’re better off working for them despite that. Move on, and work with others who are have more respect. As I’ve been in business so long, I do have the luxury of knowing something else is round the corner. On the other hand, will I be missing out on a great new client? Perhaps once I’m past this person, I’ll deal with other people? When do you let it go?

Yes, I wanted to get this off my chest, but opinions on this would be genuinely welcome, as it’s something I’ve always been unsure about. The customer may not always be right, but they’re always the customer, as I’ve heard someone say recently. But you have a choice first about whether they even become your customer.