Monday, March 16, 2009

New Project Negotiations

Last week ended on a very promising note for me. I have one prospective client contacted me via my Linked In profile (it needs a SERIOUS rehaul), and another client I actually found on Anne Wayman's job list could also turn out to be a very good thing…

Still, I wonder because this prospect and I have been locked in a back and forth dance of sorts every since Wednesday when I first responded to his job offer. He promptly responded with interest outlining several more projects his business needed right away. So I sent him a detailed scope of the three he highlighted as the most important.

The waiting game begins

By Friday I had told him everything I could without sending him the completed project. I forwarded email an agreement and payment information to receive the down payment so that I could get to work and meet the proposed deadlines. But we would dance around getting started bit longer…

I received an unexpected call from him on Saturday morning as I was wrangling my brood into submission (it was raining outside for the second full day if that gives you any indication of what I was dealing with). He apologized for calling me on a Saturday, but really wanted to discuss the project more. He asked if I could set aside some time during the day.

I broke my own golden rule

I don't know why I even answered the call – I try not to work on client projects over the weekend unless discussed in advance. I also prefer not to set a precedent where clients think they can contact me whenever they like outside of my normal working hours (which are anything but, but he doesn't need to know that, right?). I felt like this was a project I should make an exception for, so I asked him to call me back in an hour.

I think his call was more about verifying that he was actually dealing with a professional before he forked over his money. I can't be mad at him for that. When he called back, he indicated that he would be sending back the signed agreement and down payment soon.

Still waiting…

Now it's Monday. No agreement and no down payment to get started on a project that needs to be completed before the end of this month. Don't get me wrong, I know that some projects take longer to get started – especially when you're dealing with a brand new client. I guess I'm guilty of impatience, especially when I'm ready to get started.

I also know that prospects say they need projects done and fail to follow through quite often. That's just the nature of the freelancing beast. I'll just keep my fingers crossed on this one, but keep pushing forward.

I'm curious to know how other writers handle projects that get stuck in the discussion phase. Do you just move on until the client makes up their mind?


Lori said...

Exactly that, Kimberly. You move on. You contact him once today and then go on with other things. If he drags his feet too long, there will be no meeting his deadline. And frankly, it doesn't hurt to remind him that the deadline is rather close as it is, so time is of the essence.

I'd send a quick note saying, "Since your deadline is so close, I'm checking to see if there's a hold up on your side. Know that my quote is for XX days to complete this under a normal schedule. Please let me know ASAP when I can expect the contract. I wouldn't want you to miss your deadline!"

Bam - that last sentence puts the responsibility right on him for the timeliness of his response and for when this project can be finished. If he can't meet his deadline, neither can you.

Devon Ellington said...

I say, "If you want the project by Date X, the signed contract and deposit must be to me by Date Y, or else we have to change Date X."

I put it in the contract.

And I move on to other projects. If he doesn't come in on time, he takes his turn in the queue. I'm not going to put other work at risk because someone can't keep to his own deadline, and if he can't get back to me in a reasonable time, it sends up red flags, and I make a mental note that this is probably a client who will require an aggravation fee.

Kimberly Ben said...

^^Ahhhh, I didn't think about the possibility of having problems collecting the balance. Thanks for making that important comment.

Lori said...

Any word today?

Kimberly Ben said...

Lori, you must be psychic. I actually took your and Devon's advice and just sent him a quick note reminding him of the deadline and that I need to receive the signed agreement and down payment in order to meet it (something like that). He immediately sent back a message saying his project manager would be sending the information before the end of this week. We shall see...

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