I don’t often write about my day job as a web designer on this blog. I want the focus here to be more on my aspirations and successes as a writer and actor. But I’ve been on the receiving end of a most interesting phone call I simply must share.
First, some background. I have run an independent design shop under the banner Web Hound Studios for over a decade. And have been quite successful.
I have a stable of regular clients that keep me quite busy. But I do take on 2-3 new clients each year. This is usually through a recommendation from an existing client. But occasionally someone will contact me out of the blue. This is a delicate point of contact where the client is particularly wary of handing over cash to someone who they don’t know for a service they usually do not understand. It’s a leap for them.
But it is a leap for the service provider (me) also. My good experiences far outweigh the bad ones but here’s a call I got this week left on my answering system. Presented in its entirety:
“Well, I’m looking for a person who’s sane to put my website up. I’ve found most website designers are not. If you are sane and know how to put a simple business website up, please call me back [phone number].”
No name. No web address. No indication of type of business or expectations, other than the desire for me to be sane. I’m not sure what reaction this caller is looking for. But here’s mine:
“There is NO WAY I would want to do business with you.”
This was a local number too, lessening the chance of it being a scam of some kind.
Likely because I am a writer, I am very interested in language. Let’s zero in on some key-phrases this caller uses.
- “Well” She begins with this line indicating she’s exasperated. She’s tired of searching for someone, this whole experience is tiresome and I should take pity on her.
- “looking for a person who’s sane”. She goes on to say she’s had past experiences dealing with insane designers. This tells me lots.
- She feels like a victim
- She has a superiority complex.
- She’s had problems dealing with vendors in the past
- She has problems working with others and accepting advice
- “simple business website” She feels her needs are small. That ANYONE SANE should be able to accomplish her simple goals. But there’s more here. She doesn’t want to pay. She thinks she has small needs and her costs should be near zero. She would fight me on every dime.
- “up” in regard to the completion of her website. It apparently just needs to be “put up”, indicating she has no idea of the complexity in designing, maintaining and hosting a website. Her over simplification further indicating her distain for anyone whom she has to pay to perform a service.
- “If you are sane” I love this one. She’s challenging me. Indicating she will be the arbiter of my mental capacity.
She does say “please”, that’s nice. What does she leave out? Everything useful to me.
Now, I concede two things:
First, there are designers out there who could be miscategorized as “insane”. Any business has their share of what I like to call A-holes regardless of their skill level or hourly rate.
Second, I would not be able to get a truly decent grasp on a person’s temperament or their web design needs without at least a follow up call.
But this woman will not receive that call. If you’re being combative, disrespectful and condescending in a three sentence message left on my machine as a point of first contact, what exactly am I setting myself up for by returning your call or (gasp) doing business with you? Yours is a party I choose not to attend.
Some readers may recall a post I wrote last year, A Query to Myself, on some curt/bizarre requests I was receiving mostly from writers who wanted advice or for me to review their work. This call to my web design business is certainly akin to that.
I realize I have a right to enter into business with those I choose. But I hesitate to write these entries for concern I come off as difficult. You may feel some of my above assumptions to be far-reaching but my gut tells me I am right on about this caller. And I will avoid her.
So, I am being too presumptive? Or is it fair that I write off this woman immediately? What do you think? What have been your experiences?