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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Featured Biz Question

It sounds so simple, the client signs a budget, we do the work, the client makes changes/delays, the project is delayed/extended, the client should pay for the increases to the budget. It's not that easy though -- I have a client who doesn't want to spend much money. They don't have a good understanding of web site development (my biz), and they put us through the ringer on costs.

Any ideas/experience in working with a client around the touchy subject of budget, standing firm to your estimates but not making the clients angry when you tell them, "This is the budget."? I go through my info and get to the point where the client says, "But I don't think it should cost this much." And I'm not sure how to respond to that without restating what I just said -- which is not going to make the client feel good or help the situation.

How do you pick up and keep going in this situation? Thanks!

Answer from our Guest Expert Laura Wiegert of Creative Consultants

As owner of a marketing biz, I can relate to your budget and billing woes when it comes to clients and their attitudes and perceptions. I, too, have had similar experiences in my business, and they have taught me a few helpful lessons.

The Main Ingredient: Communication!

When dealing with client project budgeting, the main lesson I've learned is that clear and specific communication is the key. For example, before a project even starts, I explain in detail (and in writing) what exactly is included for the costs I'm charging. Up front, I let clients know that any expenses or additions above and beyond that amount will be charged at so much an hour. And that includes extra revisions. Once your clients see your details and costs on paper and have a chance to ask questions, they can approve the budget, and then you can start cooking!

But the communication doesn't end there. If the client suggests a change that's not part of the initial agreement, let him know that you'd be happy to make the change, but FYI, it'll cost more money. At this point, the client will do one of two things: drop the changes because of the cost; or give you the thumbs up to proceed and add the extra charge onto the budget. Remember to document this conversation in your notes, and if appropriate, you may want to give the client a new written contract with the revised project cost.

As you so aptly point out, it's not only communicating with clients that can lead to sticky situations, it's also their frugal attitudes. (continued)

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About the Expert

Laura Wiegert
Owner of Creative Consultants

Laura Wiegert

Laura is a marketing production expert helping businesses stretch their dollars with effective advertising, marketing, and public relations. She also has a flair for writing, design, and desktop publishing. more