Client Training…Whose Job Is It Anyway?

So much of the client relationship depends on how you set the expectations. In this brief, 10-minute video you'll discover a strategy for heading off 80% of client problems before they ever happen.

This is good because a happy client is more likely to refer more people to you for future projects.

After you watch the video tell us how you handle this in the comments below.

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9comments
Bruce Mitchinson - October 24, 2014

A while back we put some effort into turning our standard contract into plain English.
The standard conditions are still pretty much our professional body template, however we have a second part to our agreement, that lists all of the chores involved in designing, documenting and administering a contract.
The short version contract that Richard found at the rental car place, sounds a bit like this.
We put a dollar figure next to the task and highlight the description in bold, if we are doing it.
If the client is taking responsibility for the task the cost is $0.00 and it is not highlighted [the instructions specify how this works].
Any negotiation that goes on, we highlight, and de-highlight, and update dollar values.
Once we are underway, and the Client fails to deliver on an item that is their responsibility, and then asks us to take over, we are automatically on time charge, and there is no argument.
The only push back we tend to get is the hourly rate charge for items outside our responsibility, when we have to take these on.
We explain that as we have not programmed this work in, our staff have to add this on to their daily schedules and work overtime, and our daily rate covers these penalty rates.

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Sean Catherall - October 20, 2014

Since most of our clients want to be in control (and many others stay away from us altogether because they think we will cause them to lose control of the project) how do we do this while convincing them that they are in control?

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    Eric Bobrow - October 20, 2014

    Sean –
    Good point. People do want to feel in control, and not worry about the process or what they’ve gotten themselves into. In a strange way, setting out rules or guidelines for how you work, while taking control, will give your clients more confidence and comfort. They will know what to expect, and what they need to do as part of the process.
    It’s when things are somewhat vague that people are uneasy, since they (rightfully) may be concerned that their expectations will not match the actual process, timeline or costs.
    Eric Bobrow

    Reply
Betty and Steve Nickel - October 20, 2014

The one-page checklist is something we may consider adding to our design proposal/contract. Right now we use a suggestion offered by one of our clients. That is, we write into our contract the right to fire you (client). Specifically…

1) We typically get a 20-25% deposit to start work. We state in our design contract that if we’re not making progress on initial FLOOR PLANS, we all can quit and the deposit gets refunded. (Of course, this is the riskiest part of the deal.)

2) Next step is another 30-35% payment for further design development. Then we state if no further progress is being made here we can quit, and this 30-35% gets refunded. But we keep the 20-25% deposit.

3) After design development, the final 40-50% is due on completion of working drawings. If something goes bad here we can quit, keep the 30-35% for design development, and bill the client according to hours spent on working drawings.

We sure will give some thought on being a bit more specific about “something going bad” as you have suggested, but being able to contractually bail out while one is money ahead has worked for us. Particularly since (somewhat by accident) this idea came as a suggestion from one of our clients.

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Renzo Cecchetto - October 17, 2014

I’m guilty of entering into a “loose agreement” based on a scope and quote document. Lucky to have maintained good relations and not have been burned by erratic behaviour on the part of my clients so far. THis is a very good suggestion for ensuring the rules of engagement are clear.
Also agree with the point that lcients are happier if you take control and they feel they are in good hands. I’ve witnessed this many times and see clients visably relax as I spell out the process and who needs to do what and when, etc.
Well done!

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Brian Lewis - October 17, 2014

Great stuff – I like the idea of initialing a shortlist of how to avoid potential problem issues.

I did not receive any notice of Question 1 – can you resend for me please.

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Oliver Hess - October 17, 2014

Hey,
first greetings from germany!
Last week i made and checked exactly that in my contrasts/offers i made for an new client.
I wrote down how it works, for example what files and dates, pictures pdfs etc they have to send exact in the moment i start with the project.
After your video I think it started much earlier, because you are so right, i forced them to send me example data for an exact calculation. so i hope they will sign the contract, if not there will be never a good cooperation?!

Kind regards Oliver

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Ken Klos - October 17, 2014

Excellent – This one page sign off sheet will also prepare the client to understand signing off on schematic design, on DD and so on. Excellent food for thought, thank you.
Ken

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    Enoch Sears - October 17, 2014

    Ken thanks for the comment!

    Reply
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