Ever wonder why a project that looked so promising turns out to be a loss-making dog?

Here’s a classic tale-of-woe from the design world that you’ll no doubt recognise no matter what kind of work you do!

So one day, a client calls your company and asks you to design a new brochure for them. You work out a price based on the amount of time you think it’s going to take and the client signs up. All good so far.

However, what you fail to do is limit the rounds of amends they can have. Uh oh.

Sure enough, the client comes back and asks you to change the colours, change the layout, move this over here, move that over there. The changes just keep coming and coming and coming…

Of course, you want to do a good job for the client so you dutifully obey. All the time, your project is going rampantly over budget because you didn’t include anywhere near enough time in your quote for these never-ending rounds of amends.

Great. Another perfect project.

Now, you could try quoting an enormous amount to cover this eventuality, but that’s just going to make you uncompetitive and you won’t get the work.

So, what do you do?

What you need to do is get clear about the scope.

What is scope?

The “scope” or “scope of works” defines in (hopefully) clear language exactly what you’re going to deliver for the price you’ve quoted.

Now, you might say you already do this but are you really doing it clearly and in enough detail?

A scope of works is not just an overview (which is what most people do). It is explicit about what the client is going to get, with special focus on the areas that are likely to cause problems (like unlimited amends).

This is actually pretty simple to do, but can be hugely effective and, best of all, it won’t damage your chances of winning the work because the price doesn’t go up.

Take the example above. All you needed to do was state clearly that your quote included up to 3 rounds of amends. If the client then comes back with more than that, you can legitimately go back to them and (politely) point out that they’ve used up the amends included in the quote and ask would they like to stop or pay extra for the extra amends?

But what if the client complains?

OK, so what do you do if your client isn’t happy about having to pay extra for additional amends, even though you’ve been clear about it up front?

Well, that depends on your relationship with the client and how valuable they are to you, but here’s an approach that can work really well…

What you do is make a big show of agreeing to do “one more round” of amends for free as a significant value-add for the client. Yes, you’ll still end up doing those amends for free but:

(a) you’ll only be doing one more round for free, not hundreds
(b) the client will see they’re getting extra value, rather than just taking it for granted

In a time when you’re forced to quote low and making a profit is getting harder, a clear scope of works can be your best friend in the world.

Good luck!