With Mike & Mickie Cooper

 Editor's Note: Mike & Mickie Cooper own Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn., 20 minutes south of Nashville. Michael has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both Mike and his wife, Mickie, have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin. They make a unique team in that they are right- and left-brained. (We will let you figure out which one is which.) In this column for Focus on Faux, they are providing lively commentary and also hope to dispel any myths about the illustrious world of mural painting. Mike and Mickie invite you to send questions about the industry and try your best to stump them! Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "Fresh Perspective" in the subject line.



This month's topic...

The Elusive Perfect Client

Everybody has had them: Dream jobs that turn into nightmares. All because of that incredibly difficult client! But don't panic! All is right with the world. Or will be shortly. Because we are here to offer a few helpful tips on how to handle that pain in the...well, you get it.

First off, if you know that the client is going to be difficult, you might want to make sure that you build in some extra handling charges into the quote. Extra handling, you ask? You more than likely will have to spend extra time handling this difficult client with a ton more phone calls, e-mails and texts, not to mention the “I-can't-visualize-what-you're-talking-about. I-would-like-for-you-to-come-here-and-show-me” calls, which means additional trips back and forth to the project site. This can really add up.

You might have a client that wants to change things up after you've already started. We're not talking about adding a flower or two. We're talking about, “Can you add a portrait of my niece?” Or “I would love it if you could put my two St. Bernards in the mural!” This is what is called “Changing the Parameters of the Project.”

Remember to charge for these changes. If not, then you are devaluing the worth of your time. If an upholstery shop started working on your chair, for example, you would expect to incur costs if they had already ordered and/or cut the fabric. Same applies here, if you've already put in the order for the paint/product or already scheduled a certain amount of time for the project. Maybe already even painted a day or two. The project should have certainly been approved and priced based upon your preliminary sketches/drawings. They want changes? No problem. Just make sure to pass along those additional costs to the client. It is your obligation.

You might even have a client who changes the install dates on you. No big deal, you say? Did you schedule the entire week just for them? How is this going to affect your cash flow? Make sure that you tell them that you have booked them on the dates they agreed to. If it's only a couple of hours—no biggie, sometimes things happen. But their poor planning should not hurt your business bottom line. Make sure to explain that you have employee costs, rental expenses, etc., and now you will have to move other projects around because they weren't ready by their date. If they let you know a week out, then try to reschedule and make it work for them. But don't do it if it is detrimental to your business. They need to be held accountable for their wishy-washy ways.

Of course, we all want those clients that send the check when they're supposed to, keep doors unlocked for you to come in to do the project, say they want it done when they actually want it done, and don't make changes after you've started the project. In other words, Bigfoot. They just don’t exist! Here's the deal: We are artists, but this is also a business! And we are in the business to make money while creating. Did you hear that? To make money!! Remember, your time is important and worth a lot. Make smart alterations when you should, and don't let someone keep you frustrated. Again: It's your business. Run it the way you want it run. Be honest and dependable. Oh, and enjoy it!

Now, go paint something!

—Mike & Mickie Cooper
    Murals & More LLC