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How To Spot A Flake

Latoya Burris

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Sometimes you may end up working with people who have delusions of grandeur. They may request a project from you and halfway in show signs of declining interest or even worse, decide not use the product or solution at all. Thus, we decided to identify some red flags for you to stay clear of those pesky flaky clients. Flaky clients usually do any one or more of these things:

Take a very long time to respond to updates or inquiries

Sometimes your client is juggling a lot of things and may miss a deadline. But a good way to weed out potentially flaky clients is to see how they respond to your onboarding process. I noticed from my past experience that leads that take a long time to complete a inquiry survey about their business usually do not end up signing a contract. Thus, creating a solid onboarding process will help you avoid dodgy clients. Lauren Hooker at Elle & Co. has a great post on creating an onboarding process if you need help crafting your own.

Overly indecisive

It can be really hard to make big and life changing decisions. However, it’s a totally different situation when a client doesn’t know what they need or want. Stay away from clients that just want to use you as their personal whiteboard. That is, unless they are willing to pay for it, or if you are in charitable mood.

Unavailable and unrealistic

Clients hire people like us to solve the problems that they can’t or may not have the resources to solve for themselves. It’s your responsibility to determine the scope of the problem and manage the client’s expectations. However, what if their expectation is unreasonable or not possible? I think when that happens you need to make sure that you are assertive in your communication on reasons why their request isn’t feasible. One simple way to quickly spot a deluded client is this – listen carefully to your clients when they are telling you what they want. That way you can head off any unreasonable concepts.

Flaky clients can be a drag, but sometimes they just need a little guidance. Or, you may need to run away from these creative potholes. It all depends on those telltale signs that I mentioned above. I hope this helps your business. Have you worked with a flaky client and how did you fix or end the relationship?


Toya Design Co. is a design studio that makes brands stand out. If you’re looking to do a rebrand or need some help developing a strategy then come work with us. Learn more.