Stopping Scope creep can be a real pain point for service-based business owners. It’s understandable to want to provide exceptional service and go above and beyond for your clients, but it can become overwhelming when those expectations are not clearly defined from the start.
As a website designer, I’m thankful that I’ve learned to set boundaries and have clear communication with clients about project scope.
But it wasn’t always easy, especially when I was just starting out. I’ve had clients who pushed for more work without additional compensation. It’s difficult to navigate and can leave you feeling exhausted and undervalued.
So, how can service providers protect themselves from scope creep and ensure a successful and fulfilling experience with their clients? Here are three tips:
Start With A Consultation or Discovery Call
Before diving into a project, having a consultation or discovery call with your client is essential. This is the time to get to know each other and discuss their needs and expectations.
Be upfront about what is included in the scope of work and any additional services that will require extra compensation. This sets the tone for clear communication and expectations from the beginning.
It seems that many service providers think that they must start with a free discovery call, but that is not always the case. A paid consultation or intensive is a great way to ensure that you are working with clients who are serious and committed, and it also shows the value of your time and expertise.
List Starting Prices On Your Website
Transparency is key when it comes to avoiding scope creep. One way to do this is by listing your starting prices for services on your website. This allows clients to clearly understand what they will receive within their budget and eliminates the potential for misunderstandings later on.
If you offer custom pricing or packages, you can word your service with something like:
“Customized packages start at $X and vary based on individual needs and project scope.”
This gives potential clients an idea of what to expect but also leaves room for flexibility.
Have A Detailed Contract & Payment Plan
Having a detailed contract is essential for any service-based business. It should clearly outline the scope of work, deadlines, payment schedule, and any additional services that will require further compensation.
Project milestones and deadlines can also be included in the contract to further protect yourself from scope creep. This way, if a client asks for more work outside the agreed-upon scope, you can refer to the contract and discuss additional compensation.
In addition to a detailed contract, it’s important to have a solid payment plan in place. This ensures that both parties are aware of when payments are due and what services have been completed. It also adds a level of professionalism and trust to the business-client relationship.
Remember, it’s okay to hold clients accountable for their end of the contract. You are providing a valuable service, and your time is valuable as well. Don’t feel guilty for sticking to the agreed-upon scope of work.
How to handle scope creep gracefully
I find that a friendly email or call can go a long way in addressing scope creep. Start by acknowledging and validating the client’s request, but also remind them of what was discussed and agreed upon in the initial agreement.
If you are introverted or want to document the conversation, a follow-up email can also be an effective way to address scope creep. Just make sure to remain professional and polite while standing your ground.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Okay, so your new idea is just bursting with awesomeness! But, as this delightful idea wasn’t part of our original game plan, we’ll have to treat it like an exciting new add-on!
Adding this to our project would mean an extra investment of $X from your end, and we would need to stretch our timeline by approximately X weeks. I’d like to ensure you’re on board with this before I move forward.
This add-on will certainly help you xxxxx….. but it’s also something we can revisit later if your budget is tight right now.
Let me know. And thanks again for this opportunity. It’s exciting to work with clients who are passionate about their projects!
Let Me Know Your Thoughts
I love to hear from blog readers and customers. Have you ever experienced scope creep with a client? If so, how did you handle it? Do you have any tips or tricks for setting boundaries and avoiding scope creep in your business?