Consider a situation where a client is constantly asking for unforeseen modifications that go outside the initial scope of work – or that are requiring more time from you than you initially estimated. But you agreed on a flat price with the client and unlimited revisions until the client is satisfied. So how exactly should you approach your client to ask them to increase their design budget for an order that’s taking up too much time?
Many people take no care of their money until they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer and statesman
Never agree to unlimited revisions
From the very beginning of a design project, take notes on all discussions and follow up with the client through email to share your notes and assure you’re both on the same page during the process. Finalize the work requirements in a document titled “SCORE OF WORK” that will outline expectations. If the client wants to add more to the Score of Work after it has already been agreed upon – let them know that you may ask them to increase their design budget for any modifications that are outside the scope of work, including reformatting a file for the printers. So it’s important to have all the specs checked from the beginning. And most importantly, work on a contract. All parties should sign the contract before work begins, and the contract should mention the flat rate for the design project, as well as an hourly rate for work that exceeds X amount of hours to complete.
If possible, do not ask your client to increase their design budget during your very first assignment with them. If you think that you misjudged how long it is going to take, and that you are being paid less, just do it for the sake of your business. It would leave a really bad impression if you ask your client to increases the design budget during the first go around, and your client may end up thinking that you are an amateur, and that you cannot anticipate how much work is needed to finish a project. Instead ask your client to pay more on the next project. This also helps your client judge your work, and if you are really good, most of the time your client will end up paying more because they would want to work with you again in the future.
Asking for an increase in the budget is a bit awkward. You must remember to be polite throughout the conversation. It does not matter if your client is not in agreement at first. You must be level-headed, or else you might run the risk of losing a client. Present them with your reasons for requesting an increase in their budget. Other than overtime, state how you have had to postpone taking on other projects to focus on their project.
You may still have to face clients that are reluctant to increase their budget. This is when you will need to explain to your clients what you are worth. Share how much more another designer with your same skill level could charge for this same assignment and how much of a discount they are getting from you without the loss of quality. You could consider offering to work at a reduced rate only if they can promise you X amount of design assignments per month, this way you won’t have to work for other companies to meet your operating budget.
Show your achievements
Or if you don’t want to compromise you should recap the praised design assignments you’ve worked on for them and assure them that you are not going to waste their money, but on the contrary they would be investing in someone who can deliver high quality work. Sometimes clients feel hesitant to pay more just because they think that they are being cheated out of the good deal that they initially had. But once you can assure them that you are worth every penny they pay, you would have yourself more stable income and less time wasted.