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Website clients - Managing expectations?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by pxoxrxn, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. pxoxrxn

    pxoxrxn Supreme Member

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    Hey, another BHW member and I are starting a website design business. We are going to make WP websites and sell them at a very reasonable price offline. I have got a couple of clients and charged them $0 - $150 just to get some portfolio work. Before I get any more I figured I need to be better prepared. I am having trouble reducing the expectation gap. I expect to make them a WP website with the pages, theme and their content or mine for an extra fee. One client expects to be able to call me all the time asking weird stuff, I don't think she really has a point to the calls, she said 'to touch base' but I have made the website and it is running, why would you need to touch base? She also expects me to make her a mobile site, which was not discussed and I think she expected me to do some SEO but I quickly put a big dirty no right out there.

    So I am going to assume most people if not anyone in every industry has a problem with an expectation gap, so to this particular industry, what could I do to reduce that gap? I have thought of haveing a sheet with a link of pages they want, content, images, video ect... and a written agreement that I am going to make them a website, if they want anything extra that is not on the agreement I am obliged to bill them an hourly rate.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Cheers
     
  2. Zapdos

    Zapdos Power Member

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    You have to tell them what to expect and not expect. Simple as that. If you say you're going to make them a website then its open to interpretation of what it is or isnt. If you say its a website accessible via a .com and does not include a site that is optimized for tablets/phones, SEO work to rank in search engines, email templates or maintenance. You make the code, upload it, make it look good and then hand it off. Everything beyond that is extra and costs extra.

    Explain everything in plain english along with the costs. If they complain then drop them and find a new client.
     
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  3. outsidethesquare

    outsidethesquare Regular Member

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    The main thing people respond positively to in business (from my experience) is honesty. Just be completely upfront when negotiating price and getting design specifications from the client. Tell them there and then that exactly what they are paying for is a website design only. Ask them if they want any other services, and you may be able to get them on an upsell, and if not, you're at least clarifying exactly what it is that you offer and what they can expect. If they decide that they don't want to use your service because you are only providing web design (unlikely) then you are probably better off anyway because they're the pain in the ass clients that waste your time for months on end after your obligations are fulfilled.

    I used to get this kind of stuff a lot but I found that just being totally upfront and honest was the best way to go about it. I stopped wasting time doing tidbits of work that I wasn't billing for and even got additional service sales that I made more profit on because it turns out many clients need other services that I can provide beyond web design/development.

    Also, an aside on upselling other services - if they ask for something that you're not competent in then don't just agree and half-ass it because you think it's easy money. That's how you will ruin your reputation and have bitter clients and potential legal action. If you can't do what they need, just tell them that you aren't able to provide that service. If you know of anyone else that can (try partnering with other people in your local area for a referral commission) then just send them to someone you know if you have any contacts.

    Good luck!
     
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    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  4. pxoxrxn

    pxoxrxn Supreme Member

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    Cheers for the advice, I think that's what I need to hear. It will same me allot of stress because I don't like saying no or saying I'm going to have to bill you for that.

    I think for any other work besides for web and mobile, I will out source. I don't think it will be hard to find someone on BHW willing to do anything for money.
     
  5. JimmyWong

    JimmyWong Registered Member

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    You're going to have to get used to reinforcing the notion that you don't work for free.

    Sooner or later a client will ask you if you can do them a favour such as: "can you just do a tiny update to the site, it's not much just a bit of a text". If you agree, then expect to be taken for a ride as some people will take the piss. Don't get overly friendly with clients - they're not your buddy.

    Charge in hour blocks and set the price upfront.
     
  6. hiimadam

    hiimadam Newbie

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    Lot's of good advice on this thread. Let me give you a lesson for free that cost me $500...Thank me later

    GET A CONTRACT even if it's a simple we are making you a website for this amount, the project will be completed by this date, and here is what it includes.

    This last Febuary I landed a property management site that had a website that was terrible. The client was great but in a short while they would go from great to naggy, needy, stupid, and a HUGE money pit...Why? Because I DIDN'T HAVE A CONTRACT.

    We agreed on a price of $400 for a website and $400 for some video/picture work. We built the site as far as we could until it required the pictures/video be uploaded. No sense of having a property management site without pics/vids of the property. Well the client decided that they needed to wait until the weather was "perfect" which we waited March, April, and finally began filming/taking pictures late May. This is where things went down hill....They were upset because the website was not "finished" little did they realize they were the ones stalling us.

    Finally we filmed everything, took pictures, edited it, and the website again was in their court because now we needed them to write descriptions for the properties and give us details. They were "busy" for a few weeks and out of the blue I receive a call asking how come the website wasn't up. Which I replied because I do not have any of the details I have emailed you and not heard back. They promptly got the content to me I uploaded it and the site was running great.

    They had their own webhost which we used and that was a bad idea. Because eventually the wordpress site got hacked, and the "other guys" database/host wasn't optimal. One day I get a phone call from them saying the site wasn't working I of course wanted to help them again (at no charge even though the site was done) we never agreed to maintence, hosting, etc but some how those services that we didn't agree to were on my shoulders.

    So after 16+ hours of my time, stress, and many head aches later I was unable to get the site working and they were upset at me which ironically the site not working wasn't completely my fault they threatened to take me to small claims and just to keep them happy I refunded them $500 and parted ways. I shouldn't even have done that but I am nice and I am not out to screw anyone.

    Long post I know but YOU NEED a written agreement. To cover your butt and theirs.
     
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  7. pxoxrxn

    pxoxrxn Supreme Member

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    Hey hiimadam, cheers for that post. Sorry you lost all that money but I see every mistake as an education.

    There is heaps of good info here, thanks to everyone.
     
  8. ice41

    ice41 Power Member

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    Always give out contract, big or small, hourly or fixed. Be honest to the services that you offer, some clients are not that tech-savy and you have to explain everything everyday. Treat them well even if they are pain in the neck and choose your clients wisely :)

    Good luck bro!
     
  9. hiimadam

    hiimadam Newbie

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    another note to add if they don't want to sign a contract you don't want them as a client. They will expect more or get the original "verbal agreement" so twisted in their head they won't know.
     
  10. hits79

    hits79 Regular Member

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    some good reading, thanks everyone
     
  11. tnhomestead

    tnhomestead Regular Member

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    Always use a contract and spell out in detail what you do and dont do -- and who does what! Some contracts floating around, ALWAYS use one! Will post some of m,ine in the morning, need to scan them in first.
     
  12. artizhay

    artizhay BANNED BANNED

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    Dunno why you wouldn't have a written agreement. A blanket one that can be edited per client is simple...
     
  13. bananaman5000

    bananaman5000 Regular Member

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    ok here's some advice i have learned the hard way:

    - set up a few "consultations" per project, this makes the client get all their shit together beforehand, the consultations should be 30 mins or so (this keeps people from calling to 'touch base" or not being prepared). bill them $50 hour for phone calls that are not part of the agreed upon consultations. your time is worth something, and they are wasting it..

    - never fall for the "this will make money, i'll make you a partner" scam. If its going to make a ton of money, why not pay you up front?

    - never turn away a client with crazy expectations, give them a price instead. You want a social network with an integrated iphone app? Great idea, that will be $20,000.

    - if you have to turn away a client tell them "we're not taking on new clients right now, our hands are full, would you like to leave your contact information?"
     
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  14. m0nster

    m0nster Senior Member

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    don't charge less than $4-500 for anything. if they won't pay it fine, you don't want them as a client. any less you will be sad you're spending time for pennies. part of your web dev cost should include some cushion money so you feel okay wasting time talking to client. outsource yourself stuff you don't know but don't tell client this. always give yourself much more time than outsourcer planned so you're still on time
    and never pass up a chance to pitch SEO even for practice