OT: Billing clients who are slow to sign off

Discussion in 'HTML' started by Jim Royal, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    to make it worthwhile.

    I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    on work that I do for them. I've had clients who drag their feet at
    every stage: Site map, preliminary UI design, content reviews, etc.
    Eventually, these projects drag on from the envisioned 8 weeks to 12 to
    16 to 20 weeks. And while I'm spending time chasing after them to sign
    off on stuff, I'm not as effective on my other projects, nor for
    looking for new business. It costs me money.

    So is there a way to give these slowpokes an incentive? A clause in the
    contact that says that a delay of more than X will cost them $$$? Or is
    that a dangerous road to take?

    All opinions welcome.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 2, 2004
    #1
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  2. Jim Royal

    Hywel Guest

    In article <020920041504225337%>, Jim Royal says...
    > Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    > to make it worthwhile.
    >
    > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > on work that I do for them. I've had clients who drag their feet at
    > every stage: Site map, preliminary UI design, content reviews, etc.
    > Eventually, these projects drag on from the envisioned 8 weeks to 12 to
    > 16 to 20 weeks. And while I'm spending time chasing after them to sign
    > off on stuff, I'm not as effective on my other projects, nor for
    > looking for new business. It costs me money.
    >
    > So is there a way to give these slowpokes an incentive? A clause in the
    > contact that says that a delay of more than X will cost them $$$? Or is
    > that a dangerous road to take?
    >
    > All opinions welcome.


    Deposit & staged payments. People are for more motivated when they've
    already paid for stuff. Just look and me and my gym membership.

    --
    Hywel

    http://sponsorhywel.org.uk/
     
    Hywel, Sep 2, 2004
    #2
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  3. Jim Royal

    saz Guest

    In article <>,
    says...
    > In article <020920041504225337%>, Jim Royal says...
    > > Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    > > to make it worthwhile.
    > >
    > > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > > on work that I do for them. I've had clients who drag their feet at
    > > every stage: Site map, preliminary UI design, content reviews, etc.
    > > Eventually, these projects drag on from the envisioned 8 weeks to 12 to
    > > 16 to 20 weeks. And while I'm spending time chasing after them to sign
    > > off on stuff, I'm not as effective on my other projects, nor for
    > > looking for new business. It costs me money.
    > >
    > > So is there a way to give these slowpokes an incentive? A clause in the
    > > contact that says that a delay of more than X will cost them $$$? Or is
    > > that a dangerous road to take?
    > >
    > > All opinions welcome.

    >
    > Deposit & staged payments. People are for more motivated when they've
    > already paid for stuff. Just look and me and my gym membership.
    >
    >

    I'm with Hywel on this.

    I get 50% down on all contracts less than $5000. Over that amount, 33%
    deposit and 33% each of the next 2 months. If they are not motivated to
    respond quickly for approvals, I don't mind - I already have the money.

    And I always work on 3 or 4 sites at the same time. This fills in the
    dead times that will always occur while waiting on approvals.
     
    saz, Sep 2, 2004
    #3
  4. Jim Royal

    Augustus Guest

    Re: Billing clients who are slow to sign off

    "Jim Royal" <> wrote in message
    news:020920041504225337%...
    > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > on work that I do for them. I've had clients who drag their feet at
    > every stage: Site map, preliminary UI design, content reviews, etc.
    > Eventually, these projects drag on from the envisioned 8 weeks to 12 to
    > 16 to 20 weeks. And while I'm spending time chasing after them to sign
    > off on stuff, I'm not as effective on my other projects, nor for
    > looking for new business. It costs me money.
    >
    > So is there a way to give these slowpokes an incentive? A clause in the
    > contact that says that a delay of more than X will cost them $$$? Or is
    > that a dangerous road to take?


    I think putting in some kind of penalty for slowness is probably a bad road
    to travel...

    Reading your post gives me a couple of thoughts right away...

    1) You should be billing upfront and at regular intervals. If you aren't...
    or are uncertain about this... then trust me, all it'll take is being
    screwed once by a client and you'll change your tune.
    Once you are billing them regularly or have been paid upfront then it has
    less meaning to you if they drag their heels, because you've been paid for
    some or all of the work you've done thus far.
    This will let you concentrate on other jobs so that down the road you might
    had 3, 4 or 5 or more jobs on the go at any one time... when you are waiting
    for the first 2 to give you content and the third to approve your
    interface... you can work on the 4th and 5th sites.

    2) If this happens regularly... then you might want to look at how you are
    doing things and maybe that could use some changing. Looking at what you
    wrote... do you really need them to approve a site map?
    You have to remember that most of these people don't know anything about
    this stuff... some do, but most don't.
    If you can cut down on your interaction with the customer you can speed
    things along much better... so instead of having them sign off on everything
    you should instead get them to sign off on the important and big things and
    more or less take a hand in the actual site creation (part of what you are
    there for is consultant, to provide input and insight into the site's
    creation)
     
    Augustus, Sep 2, 2004
    #4
  5. Jim Royal wrote:

    > Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    > to make it worthwhile.
    >
    > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > on work that I do for them.


    Sorry to butt in but how does 'sign off' work? What do they sign?


    --
    Robert
    http://brightonfixedodds.net
     
    Robert Frost-Bridges, Sep 2, 2004
    #5
  6. Jim Royal

    WebcastMaker Guest

    In article <020920041504225337%>,
    says...
    > Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    > to make it worthwhile.
    >
    > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > on work that I do for them.


    25% deposit
    25% when the design is approved
    50% when we turn the site on

    We also NEVER give a completion date. All deliverables are based on
    start dates after they provide the content. When we ask for something
    from the client, the clock stops until we receive it. If we are late,
    the client knows it is their fault.

    We explain this policy up front.

    --
    WebcastMaker
    Webcasting for free
    http://www.webentations.com
     
    WebcastMaker, Sep 3, 2004
    #6
  7. Jim Royal

    WebcastMaker Guest

    In article <>,
    says...
    > Sorry to butt in but how does 'sign off' work? What do they sign?


    Yes, they physically sign something (design document etc...) because if
    they change their minds half way through the project, then they will pay
    for it.
    --
    WebcastMaker
    Webcasting for free
    http://www.webentations.com
     
    WebcastMaker, Sep 3, 2004
    #7
  8. WebcastMaker <> wrote:

    > When we ask for something
    > from the client, the clock stops until we receive it. If we are late,
    > the client knows it is their fault.


    Do you get clients that expect ten-minutes-to-midnight miracles, or does
    the contract cover it pretty well?

    The Doormouse

    --
    The Doormouse cannot be reached by e-mail without her permission.
     
    The Doormouse, Sep 3, 2004
    #8
  9. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, saz
    <> wrote:

    > > Deposit & staged payments. People are for more motivated when they've
    > > already paid for stuff. Just look and me and my gym membership.
    > >
    > >

    > I'm with Hywel on this.
    >
    > I get 50% down on all contracts less than $5000. Over that amount, 33%
    > deposit and 33% each of the next 2 months. If they are not motivated to
    > respond quickly for approvals, I don't mind - I already have the money.


    Good advice, and this I'm already doing. Still doesn't help with some
    of the slowpokes.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 3, 2004
    #9
  10. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, Robert Frost-Bridges
    <> wrote:

    > Sorry to butt in but how does 'sign off' work? What do they sign?


    Sign-off can be a physical signature on a contract or approval sheet,
    or a simple okay in an email. Depends on the relationship with the
    client and the nature of the work.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 3, 2004
    #10
  11. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, WebcastMaker
    <> wrote:

    > 25% deposit
    > 25% when the design is approved
    > 50% when we turn the site on


    We do staged billing, too.

    > We also NEVER give a completion date. All deliverables are based on
    > start dates after they provide the content. When we ask for something
    > from the client, the clock stops until we receive it. If we are late,
    > the client knows it is their fault.


    Then perhaps this is the answer: At each billing stage, we should
    document the current schedule, and define the deliverables fr the next
    stage.

    I'll give this some thought. Thanks to all who answered.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 3, 2004
    #11
  12. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    Re: Billing clients who are slow to sign off

    In article <>, Augustus
    <> wrote:

    > 1) You should be billing upfront and at regular intervals.


    This, we are already doing.

    > 2) If this happens regularly... then you might want to look at how you are
    > doing things and maybe that could use some changing. Looking at what you
    > wrote... do you really need them to approve a site map?


    I'd prefer to provide this level of detail -- the customer can ignore
    if he choses. It demonstrates that we are actually thinking about what
    we are doing, and creating something that suits the client's actual
    needs rather than just yanking a template off a shelf. Some customers
    need this assurance.

    But I think that on reflection, better time-tracking tools would be of
    use to report back how much of our time is working and how much is
    waiting.

    Thanks.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 3, 2004
    #12
  13. Jim Royal

    Neal Guest

    On Thu, 02 Sep 2004 22:32:34 -0400, Jim Royal <> wrote:

    >> I get 50% down on all contracts less than $5000. Over that amount, 33%
    >> deposit and 33% each of the next 2 months. If they are not motivated to
    >> respond quickly for approvals, I don't mind - I already have the money.

    >
    > Good advice, and this I'm already doing. Still doesn't help with some
    > of the slowpokes.


    If that amount of previous investment isn't incentive enough to fulfill
    their end of the bargain, then thay don't get a website. Take other jobs,
    and sorry to them. You don't owe them a refund for work you actually did,
    do you?
     
    Neal, Sep 3, 2004
    #13
  14. Jim Royal

    WebcastMaker Guest

    In article <Xns9558C252D782Edoormouseattnet@68.12.19.6>,
    says...
    > > When we ask for something
    > > from the client, the clock stops until we receive it. If we are late,
    > > the client knows it is their fault.

    > Do you get clients that expect ten-minutes-to-midnight miracles, or does
    > the contract cover it pretty well?



    Something like this just happened to us last week. We designed a site
    for a Home builder, built the entire thing, with virtual tours and web
    casts for each subdivision, then at the project review, the owner, says
    he wants to change the jingle. He still owes us $24k. We had to make a
    choice, suck it up, make the new music (all he wanted was a word added
    to the jingle), or fight him for it.

    We made the new jingle and changed it in all the web casts. Total time
    about 8 hours of work including studio time. We sucked it up. We had
    his sign off on the music, but it was simpler to just make the change.

    So even though it was signed off, and they approved everything, we still
    made the change, for free. So it is never 100%, but we try.
    --
    WebcastMaker
    Webcasting for free
    http://www.webentations.com
     
    WebcastMaker, Sep 3, 2004
    #14
  15. Jim Royal

    rf Guest

    WebcastMaker wrote:

    > So even though it was signed off, and they approved everything, we still
    > made the change, for free. So it is never 100%, but we try.


    Goodwill.

    Is that client going to use you for his next project?

    You can bet your bloody arse he will :)

    --
    Cheers
    Richard.
     
    rf, Sep 3, 2004
    #15
  16. Jim Royal

    saz Guest

    In article <>,
    says...
    > In article <020920041504225337%>,
    > says...
    > > Sorry for the off-topic post, but there's enough collected wisdom here
    > > to make it worthwhile.
    > >
    > > I've been wondering what to do about clients who are slow to sign off
    > > on work that I do for them.

    >
    > 25% deposit
    > 25% when the design is approved
    > 50% when we turn the site on
    >
    > We also NEVER give a completion date. All deliverables are based on
    > start dates after they provide the content. When we ask for something
    > from the client, the clock stops until we receive it. If we are late,
    > the client knows it is their fault.
    >
    > We explain this policy up front.
    >
    >

    I give completion dates, but it doesn't start until I receive ALL
    content, not just "something to start with", and my clock stops during
    the waiting for approval stages.

    The key is to give yourself more than enough time, so whether it's a
    quick 3 page site or a 100 page ecommerce situation, I never ask for
    less than 6 months, yet always deliver in half the time (remember - it
    starts after I receive all information and images.
     
    saz, Sep 3, 2004
    #16
  17. Jim Royal

    WebcastMaker Guest

    In article <JPWZc.17816$>,
    rf@.invalid says...
    > > So even though it was signed off, and they approved everything, we still
    > > made the change, for free. So it is never 100%, but we try.

    > Goodwill.
    > Is that client going to use you for his next project?
    > You can bet your bloody arse he will :)


    Exactly, and his friends will too.
    --
    WebcastMaker
    Webcasting for free
    http://www.webentations.com
     
    WebcastMaker, Sep 3, 2004
    #17
  18. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, Neal
    <> wrote:

    > If that amount of previous investment isn't incentive enough to fulfill
    > their end of the bargain, then thay don't get a website. Take other jobs,
    > and sorry to them. You don't owe them a refund for work you actually did,
    > do you?


    Good attitude. I am certainly not going to force free work on them

    Early on, my business partner kept thinking that if we just went ahead
    and completed the work, the slowpokes would have to pay us. I've since
    corrected her thinking on this matter.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
     
    Jim Royal, Sep 3, 2004
    #18
  19. Jim Royal

    Jeff Thies Guest

    > I give completion dates, but it doesn't start until I receive ALL
    > content, not just "something to start with", and my clock stops during
    > the waiting for approval stages.


    That must take some time.

    After the client signs off on the design we tend to let the client add
    almost all the content. That way we are done *way* before the client is.
    The site functions and looks the way it should but the pages are content
    light (except for the index page) and it is then up to them to add
    content or additional pages. Obviously this is all online content managed.

    Clients always want to make changes and it is always better if they
    do this themselves. We started doing this with just a few pages per site
    and now it is usually the whole site. Saves a lot of time and work.


    Jeff


    >
    > The key is to give yourself more than enough time, so whether it's a
    > quick 3 page site or a 100 page ecommerce situation, I never ask for
    > less than 6 months, yet always deliver in half the time (remember - it
    > starts after I receive all information and images.
     
    Jeff Thies, Sep 4, 2004
    #19
  20. Jim Royal

    saz Guest

    In article <11j_c.4511$>,
    says...
    > > I give completion dates, but it doesn't start until I receive ALL
    > > content, not just "something to start with", and my clock stops during
    > > the waiting for approval stages.

    >
    > That must take some time.
    >
    > After the client signs off on the design we tend to let the client add
    > almost all the content. That way we are done *way* before the client is.
    > The site functions and looks the way it should but the pages are content
    > light (except for the index page) and it is then up to them to add
    > content or additional pages. Obviously this is all online content managed.
    >
    > Clients always want to make changes and it is always better if they
    > do this themselves. We started doing this with just a few pages per site
    > and now it is usually the whole site. Saves a lot of time and work.
    >
    >
    > Jeff
    >
    >
    > >
    > > The key is to give yourself more than enough time, so whether it's a
    > > quick 3 page site or a 100 page ecommerce situation, I never ask for
    > > less than 6 months, yet always deliver in half the time (remember - it
    > > starts after I receive all information and images.

    >

    It does take time, but I always start with the basic ideas and design
    before I get all the content. That way when I receive the content, I
    have something to show them within a week. It makes it look like I've
    been dedicating all my time to them, and they feel "special".

    It's a mind game, but it works!
     
    saz, Sep 6, 2004
    #20
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