We are continuing our guide through those less desirable client attributes and how best to handle them. Today we’re talking about scope creep. Scope creep is where a client keeps pushing for little extras here and there which quickly add up.
That’ll be 10 minutes…
The dangerous thing about scope creep is how easy it actually occurs. It normally starts out very innocent “oh could you just do that.” y and it would seem unreasonable for you to say no, so you do it. Slowly but surely these small changes add up and I keep banging on about time being money with good reason.
I was mentoring a video editor who creates promotional material. They told me it was funny how often they would complete a job and then get called to say their client had given them the wrong phone number for their video. So we did the maths. It took about 30 minutes to go through a client’s material and change the number, render and export the video and send it over…and checking through their email they had made this sort of change for 9 clients this year. That’s 270 minutes of unpaid work. Suddenly not so funny to the editor any more.
The first step towards combatting scope creep is to get a tight brief in the first place. Make sure you’ve got all of the details up front about what the client wants and expects. Get everything in clear writing to begin with.
Drive Your Client
Give a client the breathing space they need to make clear choices throughout the lifetime of your project and build in some time (that you’ll have already charged them for) to make those little changes. I would suggest that if in your contract you say firmly a client only gets 2 changes, then secretly you have 3 changes available to them. You never let them know. This is invisible time you’re charging them for. This way when those changes do crop up its not coming out of your pocket.
The N word
This is where I want to make a clear distinction. Saying No to a client is not bad service. I think many freelancers are guilty of feeling like they have to please their client at all costs in order to retain their business. With scope creep after a certain point you simply have to say this far and no further. Always remind a client of all the extra things you’ve done for them and then suggest wither “this has to be the final change” or “we can do that but I will have to charge you an extra hour.” It’s amusing how completely non-vital those changes are when money is involved.