A Post On Unfair Expectations
We lost a job today, because we refused to capitulate to the client’s demands. We had already created a pro bono website for the client, for a good cause, and this was not done with the expectation of gaining paid work. The client subsequently asked for quote for a revamp of their website, questioned every single item on the quote, and let us know that a family friend would do the site for €200. At this point my instinct was to disengage from the client – if they truly believed they could get a site of comparable quality for a price like that, then they would be insane to pay our prices, which were significantly higher. In truth, I think the client knew that the €200 website would be a low quality product that would not help their business.
Yet, we persevered. The client agreed in principle to proceed. As we began to organise timelines, and prepare contracts, the client let us know that they weren’t prepared to pay a deposit. They wanted us to do the site and then they would pay us. At this point we explained that:
- In the days when we did speculative work, clients disappeared owing us large sums of money, because they knew we hadn’t a leg to stand on
- When you sign a contract and pay a deposit, we know that we have your attention, and that you are invested in the project
- The standard in the web industry is to charge a deposit and use a contract to protect client and provider
- All our other customers (including others in the clients industry) had no problem with our policy
- If you want to hire us, then you should already be confident that we can fulfill your needs – our portfolio is public.
- Paying a deposit distributes the risk. If I elope in the middle of the project- you’ve lost half the money. If you elope, I’ve lost half the money.
- This is how we work, whether you’re a stranger, the Pope, or a family member. It’s nothing personal – it’s not that we don’t trust you, we’re simply not making an exception for you, or anyone else.
I have no doubt that this job is well and truly lost, but I have zero regrets. We reach compromises with clients every day, and will work to reach a mutually acceptable solution wherever possible. However, we will never deviate from our core principles, and I think this is why our clients keep coming back to us.
This is a common theme, and I like this quote from another post:
“I don’t pay upfront deposits.”
Every client needs skin in the game, period. If they won’t commit by putting down a deposit before you start working, then you’re basically doing spec work that they can choose to buy if they like it. Don’t run your business this way.
To those starting out in business, be true to your principles. If you sell out on something you believe in, for financial gain, you’ll regret it. Sometimes the customer is plain wrong.
Update: The client called us a few days later, signed the contract and were thrilled with the resulting site.