How many times have you had a client need additional work and their projects and they try to sneak it in without paying extra? Kory here! I know that Krista and I have both certainly had this happen to us, and it is annoying and frustrating to deal with.
We are so so thrilled to have Gigi from One 6 Creative join us on the podcast this week just to talk all about avoiding that scope creep with your client projects.
After getting a degree in marketing, Gigi landed a job as a marketing director at a consultancy. After a few years she landed in the brand executive role where she had high hopes of applying some of the design and marketing strategies she had learned into place for clients. However, things changed within the agency, and shortly after Gigi left her job.
She began looking for freelance work to do on Fiverr and Upwork, which was a humbling experience. So after a couple of months of doing freelance work she founded One 6 Creative, which is a creative agency focused on conversion first and design second.
Her experience with scope creep
Gigi shared that she experienced a decent amount of scope creep early on in her business, especially when she was looking for work on sites like Fiverr. She believes some of the scope creep from those specific projects came from the fact that she didn’t quite have a direct relationship with the client.
However, she did share one experience with us about a project she started three years ago. Gigi said it was a big project and she was super excited about it, but it’s still going on to this day. She continues to work on the project because she has a personal relationship with the client.
Another experience with scope creep that Gigi had stemmed from miscommunication and a lot of red flags that she admits she should have pointed out from the very beginning.
Questions to ask your clients to avoid scope creep
Now, Gigi says, she generally has a gut instinct as to whether or not things will work out with a client.
Gigi says that most designers think about their client experience and process specifically after they’ve started working with a designer, but it’s important to remember that your client experience starts before you actually start working on the project.
With that in mind, Gigi changed the way potential clients reach out to her. Instead of just filling out a basic contact form she sends leads to a brand application. This gives her a much more detailed look at the clients’ brand, what the clients’ expectations are in working together and if they’d be a good fit.
Specific questions she asks in her brand application:
- What are your goals for your business?
- What are your objectives?
- If our work is successful and we’ve done everything perfectly, what does this look like to you?
- Why did you start your business?
Boundaries to set in place
Gigi shares that contracts are an important thing to have when working with clients. She tries to keep her contracts simple and straight forward with clients so they understand that she’s not trying to trick them with any complicated lingo.
In her contracts, she has a whole separate section about work that falls out of scope. This includes notes about how this work is billed at an additional fee, how extra work may effect the timeline of the project, and that she has the right to refuse additional work.
Communicating about additional project fees
Gigi keeps things really simple here. Her focus with client projects is conversions, so when a client requests additional work (specifically certain features for example) she tries to refer back to the original goal of the project. She asks herself and the client if this additional work would help the client reach their goal, though sometimes the client wants something that looks good even if it doesn’t necessarily help with the overall project objective.
When a client makes a request for work that’s out of scope, Gigi simply will remind them that this goes beyond the original agreed upon project scope and it will cost an additional fee because it will take her extra time to complete, which may push back the launch date.
If a client is upset about the original cost, simply refer them back to the contract where you’ve been very clear about the cost and the deliverables. Most of the time clients won’t mind the extra cost, but if they do then you can decide to not move forward with the additional work.
Dealing with scope creep while being booked out
She admits that she’s not the best to speak about being booked out as she was overbooked at the time of recording the episode; however, it comes down to setting and maintaining boundaries.
Gigi shares that she has a strict policy on communication in her contract. She charges clients if they don’t communicate to her for 10 days, and if that extends to 3 weeks the project will be put on hold.
Another option is to outsource the work if you’re really set on doing it for the client but you don’t have room in your schedule. You can charge a little bit extra to clients as well to cover your admin costs of managing the project if you’re handling things under your brand.
Saying no to scope creep after you’ve already allowed some for free
Gigi says it’s not too late to put your foot down, even if you’ve already allowed some scope creep in your client projects. Once you’ve started allowing favors it’s harder to say no to a client, but at some point it’s better for you that you say no.
It can be as simple as saying that any further changes mean extra hours that you’ll need to spend on the project, which will require an additional fee. Again, you’ll want to refer them back to your contract and show the client that the additional work is outside of the original project scope.
Learn more about Gigi
Yevgeniya (or simply Gigi) is a Conversion-Led designer and strategist, focusing on creating brand and web solutions with growth and conversion in mind. She’s been running my design agency, One6Creative, for 3.5 years now, after quitting her corporate job as a Brand Executive for a consultancy in the education industry. The 9-5 world and the idea of climbing up the ladder didn’t end up being her cup of tea and she quit her job to join the crazy, passionate, unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, where she can truly make a difference and serve fellow business owners.