Clients often get confused about what they want with what they can afford. Here are a few tips for you to help guide them to stay on track and within their budget.
1 – Establish the Client’s Budget Right up Front
It’s important and good project management to establish your clients’ budgets at the start of the project. Discuss the project and gain an understanding as to what the scope of the design project is. Politely ask your client for their budget and clarify if they have any room for adjustment, and if so, how much? It is pivotal to cover this information at an early stage – it will save both parties so much frustration further down the line.
Some clients may be hesitant to share their budget with you. This is the ideal time to explain that keeping the budget transparent will not only help you work faster but will also be key to finding solutions exactly suited for them.
Even if a client isn’t forthcoming about their budget, there’s a good chance you are able to translate their body language and nuances with their reactions to the different brands and prices being presented to them. Are they leaning towards high-end or do they prefer the more affordable options?
2 – Calculate the Contractor Charges
For work that needs to be contracted out, you need to tally all these charges beforehand and include them in the total cost to ensure the client doesn’t exceed this estimated range by the end of the project.
3 – Keep your Client in the Loop
Stay completely transparent with your client as you progress through their project. Discuss the different alternatives, any changes in estimated costs, and listen to their feedback. The more closely clients interact with their project, the more likely they are to adhere to their budget.
One way to accomplish this is to create a detailed report which breaks down how their budget will be distributed and what other alternatives they do have. You may find that your client is more willing to spend on one thing and less willing to splurge on another. This will help them spend according to their priorities without compromising their budget. Moreover, this transparency will help them better understand how their money is being utilised, and hold them accountable for any last-minute, out-of-budget decisions.
4 – Use Budgeting Softwares
Being a designer in the age of technology means that you have a number of smart tools at your disposal, so use them. There is a litany of software, including both paid and free versions, that can help you on this budgeting road. The choice of software depends on various factors such as how much time and money you’re willing to invest in it, what functions are required by you, and how user-friendly the software is for you. It’s best to look for a software that has multiple but useful features such as managing profit margins, tracking expenses along with billable hours, and producing well-structured reports. Some advanced software allows you to integrate them with accounting tools to make your life even easier.
Of course, this level of budget management can sometimes take up a lot of your time so here are 5 Tips from Designers on how to Save Time to help you in this regard.
5 – Stay Flexible with a Contingency Fund
Despite incorporating the most meticulous budgeting, you may still wind up with an expense that you hadn’t included in your estimated costs. For example, the renovation of older spaces is often filled with surprises that were not visible at first glance however may get uncovered further into the project.
These surprise expenses can throw your client’s budget off substantially and force them to compromise on quality elsewhere. Always advise your client to set aside 10-15% – if not more – of their actual budget as an out-of-scope or contingency reserve from the rest of their budget. Even in the off-chance that it doesn’t get used, spending under your budget is always better than overspending.
We understand that managing budgets can sometimes be the hardest part of a project which is why it can often lead to scope creep and unhappy clients. But by following these simple, yet practical tips, you are sure to help your clients stay within their budget and build a strong relationship with them along with getting a great review.