How Not to be Shortchanged

Fanny Tham

Fanny Tham

by Fanny Tham of [email protected]

Ever feel like you are being shortchanged at work? How do you tell your clients who are taking advantage of you? Should you reject the job? What can you do? A Creative-Person-At-Work finds out.

Know your Value
Always know your rate card by heart. How much are you be charging? Based on what kind of units (time-based, percentage-based, project-based, skill-based, etc)? What kinds of discounts are you offering (Full-payment discount, extended project discount, returning client discount, referral discount, etc)? When a client asks you for a quote, you will be able to supply it to him/her immediately and not risk him/her coming back to you with an under-valued amount. Even if you decide to give the client a discount, always let him/her your usual rate and that you are extending a discount based on a specific reason. This gives you the option of reverting back to your usual rate for the next project.

It’s Not Always About the Money
We’ll always have clients who will tell us they are working with a tight budget and offer us an amount below our usual rate. Should we shortchange ourselves and accept the project? Well, it depends on the non-monetary value that the project will give. If your daily rate for a project is, say, USD500, and your client is offering you USD250, maybe there are other ways this project will make up for the loss of USD250. Is the project good for your portfolio? Is it the biggest project you have been tasked to do? Does the project provide you with valuable contacts? Are there any alternative projects you can take on which will pay you more? It is not always about the money but it should always be about value. If the project has additional value-add, go ahead, and take it. But do let your clients know that you are extending a discount and this is not your usual rate.

More, more, more
It is frustrating when a client begins to dump you more work beyond the initial agreed scope after you have accepted the project. Hence it is very important to list down the exact scope of work either in the form of a service agreement or an email. List down all the areas of work you are tasked to do for the project. When the client throws additional duties along your way, kindly bring to notice the scope of work previously agreed. If it is something you can manage and you do not mind assisting, go ahead but do let your client know it is above and beyond what you are supposed to be but you are pleased to help out this ONE time.

I See No Money
Prompt paymasters easily make the list of our most favorite clients. But in reality, how many of your clients are prompt paymasters? The service agreement, or simply an acknowledged email, is important in spelling out all the terms, conditions and requirements in the service. If you find it difficult to ‘talk business’ to your clients, try this. Tell your clients that you are keeping up with your business reporting and bookkeeping and this requires you to document every service, contract, quotation and invoice for all your projects.  Once you get the ball rolling, it will be easy for you to stay in this mode of operation. What if they still don’t pay even after they have signed the service agreement? Consider seeking legal advice or going to your local authorities. As a safety measure, always collect at least 30% of the payment upon confirmation of the project. This will at least cover part of your costs.

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