Outlining expectations will save headaches later

June 1, 2008
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , , — jonimar @ 5:00 pm

Q: I’m an independent contractor and my largest client continually squeezes me for more services for the same fee. How do I stop the bleeding without jeopardizing the deals or the client altogether? 

A: First, don’t compete on price. Promote the value you are providing for the fee charged. Managing client expectations may be even more imperative than delivery of the service itself. 

As an existing service provider, you have the competitive advantage of meeting the client’s evolving needs — even shaping them. Track this vital information by summarizing your progress, reporting results and highlighting achieved outcomes to the client after key milestones.

Here’s your opportunity to elicit feedback from the client. What are they satisfied with? Where are you exceeding expectations? When the client articulates this, it reinforces the return on their investment. The most challenging yet noteworthy question to ask is, “What would you want different next time?” Their responses enable you to refine your service to more closely meet their needs.

When pressed to include additional services, refer the client back to their stated satisfaction levels.

If they insist on bundling more services for the same price, hold firm. Fees that appear negotiable run the risk of being ground down by the client.

Instead, explore what’s motivating their need to discount. Determine what services they are willing to take off the table in order to reduce the price. Alternatively, offer to exchange, reduce or remove other components to maintain your fee.

Originally printed in The Province on June 1, 2008.


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