The Hard Task of Handling a New Client
A new day has come, the sun is shining and you have a new email that can be translated to:
Hi! I’m interested in working with you!
That’s great, we all love new clients. It means more opportunities, work, and money. What we can’t forget is that it also means less work and more “lost” time.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for a Typography, Animation, Illustration or T-Shirt Design, Clients are clients and there’s three things they all require from us: Patience, Time, and Results
New client = “Lost time”.
It may sound weird to talk about an opportunity as a lost time, but what you have to consider is that every new client requires a significant amount of your time to discuss the project’s details and to teach them about your process.
You don’t have to teach your clients about the details of each step of your work. You have to explain to them about your process and where they fit into this process.
That’s why you must value recurring clients. They already know about your process, about the right way to communicate and iterate with you during the project. The possibility of great results is way better in this case 🙂
Teaching your client
When you have a new client, you want them to collaborate with you and your process. Each professional has their own process and approach to business, that’s why explaining the way you work is so important for you to have a great client relationship in the future.
Let’s imagine that you work with a one-concept policy and the last designer your client worked had an infinite revisions policy, you’ll have a big headache in the future if you don’t let them know how you work.
Also, when you’re explaining your process is the best time for them to understand what are their roles during the project. It’s better not only for them but mostly for you.
Design process explanation
Designers work in different ways. We have many methods, process, and definitions that change the way we work. There’s a big difference if you’re a Design Thinking Agency or a Branding Agency, but your clients don’t know that. They think Design is unique and is the same thing everywhere.
Find time to organize and document your process and work method.
After you have everything documented for yourself, you can condense all the relevant information to your client, creating a specific page on your website for that or just creating a PDF that you can present to every new client.
Some questions you may ask yourself before creating your Design Process approach are:
- How do you quote projects?
- Which files and information you need to start the project?
- What are the steps/phases of your work?
- How do these steps work together and how your client’s feedback can they improve your final result?
- Which steps need the client’s approval?
- What are the inputs you need from your client?
- How do you handle the communication with a client who has a directory board?
- How do you handle versions and revisions?
- What are your final deliveries for the project?
Business approach explanation
Designers have to do business eventually and each one of us has a different view of things. There are people that charge 50%/50%, some people prefer 100% always and there are even crazy people who accept to be paid only after the job is done — Can we even consider those as real people?.
Some questions you may ask yourself before creating your business approach are:
- How do you receive payment?
- How do you divide your payment?
- What is the expected time for approvals?
- How do you handle approval delays?
- What are the client’s responsibilities?
- What are your responsibilities?
- How do you handle personal information shared by your client?
- What are the rights for each part, to end the contract abruptly?
Your client’s security
Imagine you just met someone. How can you trust them or even worse, how can you trust your money to them?
Clients aren’t unprofessional for trying to lower quotes, asking to see previous projects or even asking for recommendations. It’s hard to give money to someone you don’t know and don’t trust yet.
That’s why this primary communication is so important. Explaining your approach and your process brings the feeling of safety for your client. They will know how the project will be done, what are their role in the project, how they will pay if their information will be kept in secret and what are the possibilities of failure for this project.
Everything must be clear for both ways. Never assume anything
Being honest about the risks of the project and how you expect to address their problems is the best way to lead a project’s discussion with a client.
Having a good communication since the beginning of a project can transform a bumpy roadmap into a well-pavemented process.
Being a professional
Taking your time to document all your process and approach is a basic thing for a professional. You must know the importance of every step and every decision made on a project.
When you explain this to them you’re not only reducing the risks of project failures and headaches, but you’re showing your client that he can trust you.
The biggest barrier between a client and a professional is security. If you’re able to reduce the possibilities of failure or doubt for your client, he’ll be more inclined to work with you and pay your price.
True professionals respect their own process and their client’s financial safety.
Originally published at mowestudio.com on May 17, 2016.
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