Like marriage, a proposal between client and design firm is based upon what is presented for the project scope. If the project creative brief spells out X, the proposal reflects that offering. However, somewhere down the line after the project begins, what sometimes happens is details may evolve which require a change ultimately altering the scope of the project. Naturally, this often changes the original pricing structure especially when those needs are greater than what was originally estimated for.
Let me put it to you this way…If you ask for a hamburger, have it cooked up and then when it’s served to you you have a crazy craving for a 16 oz porterhouse steak — there will be an up charge, the same applies to design.
Most clients understand this — that’s the good news.
On occasion, we’ve run into situations where for whatever reason this didn’t make sense to the client — no matter how you explain things or provide detailed comparison examples, the end result was they wanted what they wanted but didn’t want to pay for the add-ons.
So as a design firm what are you to do? Should you stick to your guns, offer alternative solutions, decide to sever the relationship or go on a year long sabbatical?
Well… all those options (except the last one) are ones that should be explored. Always offer alternative solutions, just don’t say it’s this way or no way, but make sure your solutions benefit both your client and design firm —not just you. If that doesn’t work, figure out another solution. Do whatever you can to make it work and then (only then) if there is no light at the end of the negotiation tunnel, you can decide to walk away amicably or if appropriate offer a refund of sorts. Many design firms do not offer refunds, we’ve adopted that philosophy as well. We do offer other ways of compensation though for situations that arise every blue moon though.
Bottom line, do whatever you can to keep your client happy, make sure (and this is huge) make sure they fully understand the scope of the project, also ensure they have read your contract and understand your terms. These steps will help both parties have a much smoother engagement.