If you sell a service or some form of artwork you may experience a challenge that product producers don’t have. That challenge is scope of work. Many times the idea in the client’s mind varies from that of the seller. This can cause discord, and failure to receive payment.
There’s a relatively simple solution that too many business owners fail to implement. That solution is clearly defining scope of work along with a staged acceptance/payment process.
Clearly defined scope of work.
This is the starting point. What will you do for the client and how much will you charge for it? Spelling out this exact thing will prevent them from having a misunderstanding. So, when you sit down with the prospective client to discuss what they want, ask a lot of questions. As a matter of fact, create your list today so you don’t have to think about them in the moment.
What do you need to know about their expectations in order to provide a proposal? You have to know what they are looking for, what they want and don’t want, what their budget is, what their sense of urgency is, and so on. You are the service provider or artist. You know your business. Frame your questions around the services you provide and their parameters.
Once you have the answers, create a clear, spelled out proposal. State plainly what you are going to do for them and in what time frame. You may even want to put a section in that states what you won’t be doing. Your goal is to eliminate misunderstandings. You don’t want to ever leave them with the belief that you are going to do anything you aren’t planning to do. And you don’t want to give them the opportunity to fabricate the ideas.
This is equally important. You want to make sure you get paid for your efforts. Having a proposal with stages in it is a great way to ensure payment for work done AND gain the client’s agreement that you are on the right track.
Think about it. Have you ever gotten part way or all the way done with a project only to have the client say they are unhappy with the outcome? It happens all the time. And the service provider in these cases doesn’t have anything to fall back on. They didn’t create a clear expectation and they waited to get the bulk of their payment at the end.
When you create a staged process you are working with your client throughout the process. If at any time they aren’t happy you can deal with it at that very moment. You can even recreate the remainder of the proposal from that point on. And since they are signing off on the project in stages, they are saying you are on the right path.
Moreover, no matter what happens, you are getting paid for your work. It would look like this – you get a deposit to start the process. That deposit should equal the time you will be spending on the first stage. At the end of the first stage, you meet with the client, talk about what’s been done to date, have them sign off and then pay for the next leg. Even if you reach a point where they don’t want to continue, you’ve been paid for the work you’ve done and they can take the project as it stands.
It’s important that you drive the train of your business. You decide how you work and you share that with your prospect. If they decide to engage you they are fully aware of what to expect. The relationship is much further ahead. In addition, this process will weed out the people who can’t decide what they want, aren’t really ready to engage, and are just plain difficult. You don’t want to work with any of those people!
Having a process that is well defined shows your professionalism and thoughtfulness. You are looking out for your client as much as you are looking out for yourself. The relationships that you forge through this process will last forever.