Working for Multi-Cultural Clients


Clients are what keeps a business in business and when work is slow, beggars can’t be choosers in the types of clients that ring for assistance. Working in Australia which is a multi-cultural society, means that clients will come from a range of different backgrounds and ethnicities and this can sometimes bring opportunities to learn about a different culture, but it can also harbor conflict and difficulties.


If you talk to any tradesman, and without being racist, I mean the majority of Caucasian tradies; they agree that working for Asian and Indian clients can often be the worst customers to work for. The reasons include because they often don’t pay their bills, want illegal installations to be done or barter your price down because they say you are too expensive.



I have come across clients like these in both commercial and domestic jobs and it takes wisdom and patience to work alongside such clients or making a decision to walk away from a job to save your integrity and sanity.


The way to handle such clients is to be firm and upfront about costs and payment terms. Trades also need to understand that bartering for a cheaper price, while not done in Australia, is customary in other countries for goods and services. Also, tradespeople need to explain to clients that what happens in India and Asia (and any other country for that matter!), can’t be done in Australia because of strict laws and standards. Third world countries –even their first-world districts don’t have the same safety standards and laws as first world Australia.


At the end of the day, if a client’s requests aren’t acceptable, don’t pursue the job. Walk away!


I remember one job my dad was asked to quote on a few years ago when we focused on commercial work. It was an Indian restaurant in New Farm Brisbane and the client wanted to pay all the tradies cash to do the job. When my dad found this out and was advised that the gas appliances were being imported directly from India without Australian approval, he walked away. Sadly, some of the other trades that were asked to quote on the job (who needed the work) thought it was a great job thinking that if they were paid cash, there would be no issues with payment. But anything not done in writing and hidden from the Australian Tax Office has significant consequences. The tradies weren’t paid and the restaurant went belly-up before it opened.


Not all multi-cultural clients are difficult to work with, but majority have their own ideas on how tradespeople should work or charge. The best way to assist is not to avoid these clients altogether because that would be racist. Instead be upfront about your costs and offer a discount ONLY if you are able to, write a contract before you do the work if you are worried about being paid, do the work according to Australian Standards to cover yourself and remember that if you do a good job for them, they will recommend you within their own ethnic communities which means you will get more customers and more work.