Your Client Wants to Change the Budget - Now What?
Here's a scenario that's becoming way too common today - your client gets tired of waiting for product or the contractor so they decide they want to change things up. They may want to expand the scope of what they originally wanted, or they decide they don't want to continue with parts of the original agreement. What's the best way to handle those sticky situations?? Here are my best tips for guiding your client through a budget change!
Sometimes the client doesn't understand that the budget has to change! They may ask to add a "small room" to the project. Or they might sneak in a question about having you change a spec to something more expensive. Those changes mean a change in the budget, and you have to clear about that. The proper answer (every time!) is, "Of course we can do that. Let me send you a new proposal." Be firm but clear. If it costs YOU money and time, then there will a change in the budget to reflect that.
Sometimes our clients run into a financial issue. It happens. And this is where you have to make a judgment call on a case-by-case basis. It could be that they have an unexpected illness or expense. They may have lost their jobs. You have to have a clear understanding of what's going on before you decide how you will respond. In genuine emergencies, of course you want to be as flexible as you can. Your clients will appreciate your care and concern, and they'll remember it in the future. But there's another thing that happens way too often. Clients sign your contract thinking they'll be able to pay, but then construction costs eat up all the budget and by the time you're supposed to order accessories or art, they have nothing left. YIKES! The key is to ensure that you select accessories and art as part of the overall design presentation. AND you have them sign proposals for each of those things. That way you're not the one getting short shrift at the end of the project.
The Frustration Factor
A client may also just be frustrated with how long they're having to wait - and aren't we all?!? So they may want to move on and buy something NOW. It's your job to calm things down and be blunt about what's happening. Remind them that there is limited supply EVERYWHERE, even at retail. And that if you reselect, that will push the delivery date out even further. If you're honest, but unemotional, you can help them see that the situation is beyond your control. If they still want to change it all, remind them of the contract. And speaking of that - do you have an "out clause"? Usually that would be a way that they can exit the contract by paying you a change fee or an exit fee.
The key to all of this is communication and having a really great client contract. Review your processes and your agreements ASAP so you'll be prepared for difficult conversations. And you can also download my FREE Guide for How to Stay on Budget. That will help you stick to what you originally proposed!