premium training

10 Keys to Keeping Web Design Projects on Track & Delivering on Time

This is a premium training for Inner Circle members only.

More about this video

Do you feel hyped, motivated, hopeful, and focused every time you start a new project, only to miss the target deadline repeatedly?

Is it your fault when timelines get missed? Is it the client’s fault? A little of both, perhaps?

Are you constantly dealing with scope creep? Iteration rounds that never seem to end?

Do you spend too much time chasing milestones and milestone payments?

You must watch this training if any of this is true in your business. I will give you ten keys to keeping projects on track and delivering on time.

If you implement these tips, you’ll see smoother projects with greater timeline adherence. And if a timeline is still missed, you’ll already have significant financial and reputational protections in place.

Video Transcript

There’s a big problem in web design that I know all agencies and freelancers face and they face this problem constantly. It’s not just a it’s not a rare issue let’s say it’s an issue that comes up over and over and over again and that is the issue of missed timelines. We project a timeline for every single project and we tell the client hey this project will be delivered in this amount of time or at this date. And very often that date is missed. Now why is that date missed? What can we do to stop missing dates? That’s all going to be exactly what we’re going to talk about in this video. I’m going to give you 10 tips to make sure your projects stay on track and are delivered on time. And I know that a lot of you are going to say well it’s not my fault that the project is delayed. And that that very well may be the case. Absolutely. We know that clients are notorious for delaying their own projects. And then of course many of those clients will try to blame it on you. So what we’re going to talk about in this video. Number one is first of all how to how to just make sure projects are staying on track and getting delivered on time to ensure that it’s truly not your fault from an agency or a freelance perspective. We want to make sure that it’s never your fault. Now we have full control over ourselves. What we don’t have full control over of course is the client. So there are going to be times when the client is causing delays, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t foresee this and put steps in to prevent it.

And it also doesn’t mean that we can’t protect ourselves from the consequences namely being blamed. That’s number one. And even more important probably is number two. Having our money be affected. You never want your money or income. The revenue that you’re making from the projects that milestone payments. Hopefully you’re not doing milestone payments. But the money that you’re making from the project you don’t want that to be part of the consequences of a delayed timeline. So in this video, I’m going to give you 10 tips to help you make sure more projects stay on time. I’m not saying that this is ever going to be perfect. It’s certainly not. If you look at my agency, we get project delays all the time. The thing is is the project delays don’t ever really affect us financially. And they don’t affect our reputation either because of these tips, because of the steps that we put into place. So with that said, let’s go ahead and get on to tip number one. All right, tip number one is never agree to unrealistic timelines. I think this is a big, big problem. It’s agencies and freelancers getting themselves into hot water by agreeing to unrealistic timelines. And I think most people would blame the client and they would they would tell me Kevin the client said, oh, they’re they’re in a rush or they’re releasing a product and the product release date is this. And so we just have to get it done. And we really wanted the money. So we said yes to this unrealistic timeline, which you probably knew was unrealistic in the beginning. And that does happen from time to time. For sure, clients are going to come ask you and say, well, we really want it done in this amount of time. Can you do it? But even if the client doesn’t pressure you in any sort of sense with a timeline, I think agencies and freelancers are often guilty of pressuring themselves. I think when you’re scoping out a project, you’re thinking in the back of your mind, if I if I give this client too long of a timeline, they’re not going to want to sign on the dotted line.

They’re not going to want to work with us. They’re going to want to go find somebody else who can do it faster. Of course, we live in the in the microwave generation where everybody wants everything done now. They want it done tomorrow. But here’s where we have to talk once again, a common concept that we when we discuss here in the inner circle that you need to be a consultant and not a pixel pusher, a pixel pusher would say, yes, whatever whatever timeline you say, I’m going to I’m going to do my best to get it done in. And really it’s like I’m going to put myself on the line saying, yes, I can get it done in that amount of time where a consultant would say, well, we want to get it done as fast as possible. Obviously, it actually benefits us to get it done as fast as possible because we can get your project delivered and we can move on to the next client. But we want to get it done right doing it right is more important than doing it fast and you need to get the client to agree to this in some form or fashion and you need the client to know that that’s what you care about most right. So we could say, hey, we could rush this and not cross our teeth and not dot our eyes. There’s going to be some issues with quality. And it’s going to be an issue some issues with scalability perhaps and maintainability. Is it more important to you that we get it done as fast as possible or is it more important that we get it done right to our high standard because we do have high standards. And that’s why people hire us they hire us because they know we have high standards. So what I just want to check in with you is it is it more important to you that we get it done fast on this timeline that frankly is a bit unrealistic or is it more important that we take the necessary time and get it done right. And if you can get the client to basically say no, it’s more important that you guys do it right than to do it fast. You’re off the hook. So you don’t have to agree to an unrealistic timeline. And when you’re scoping projects if the client hasn’t said anything yet about the timeline, give them a very realistic timeline. A realistic timeline, by the way, doesn’t just mean we can we’re comfortable getting it done in this amount of time. It also has a buffer for unforeseen circumstances. Okay, so if you can get it done in six weeks, you might scope it as an eight week project. You have a two week buffer for unforeseen issues, circumstances, whatever. That means you get sick and you’re out for a week or two weeks and you can’t work on the project. Hey, there your buffer makes up for that because always always we want to try to under promise and over deliver. You never want to do it the opposite way. And this is what too many agencies and freelancers do. They dramatically over promise by agreeing to these unrealistic timelines that they pretty much know in the back of their head are unrealistic upfront.

And then they fail to deliver and they repeat this over and over and over again. And of course you can send you can point fingers all day long and blame it on the client. But ultimately it’s the blame does rest on you because you’re the one that agreed to the unrealistic timeline. You’re the one that put yourself on the line and your reputation on the line by saying yes, I can do it in this amount of time. I think you ultimately need to take responsibility for that. So you also need to take responsibility for not doing that anymore going into the future. Stop agreeing to unrealistic timelines. And I told you the best way to get yourself off the hook is to basically get the client to say we care more about quality than speed. If you can get them to say that then you’re off the hook because you’re going to say all right good. Then we’re going to take our time. We’re not going to do it on this unrealistic timeline. We’re going to make sure it’s done right all the teas across all the eyes are dotted and you’re going to be happy and we’re going to be happy. It doesn’t get delivered as quickly but it gets delivered the right way. And if you’re all on the same page that that is the goal is to deliver the project the right way. Then everybody is going to be happy and you’re going to hit your timeline. All right tip number two is to map out your process and then get this you should actually follow your process. And if you have a team your entire team should know the process and should be following the process. Now what the process is is completely up to you but there has to be a process we all like to work differently. Some of us like to design and Figma and then develop in a page builder some of us like to do all of it in the page builder.

There’s different workflows again every workflow out there can probably work to accomplish a really good quality project. However it’s up to you to decide on a workflow to document that workflow and to actually follow that workflow because what happens when you have a set workflow in place. I mean you think about this like McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A or Burger King or really McDonald’s would be the most famous one because they really came up with the idea of a fast food process where they can take an order from that speaker that’s sitting out. They’re sitting outside their building to the window in a specific amount of time they know exactly how long it’s going to take to fulfill that order or how long it should take to fulfill that order based on the process that order goes through. And then they know based on that how many clients they’re able to handle in a given amount of time or simultaneously with people coming through the drive through versus at the register versus the amount of cooks that they have and so on and so forth. All of this is very important to what to efficiency to timelines and that’s exactly what we’re talking about in this video and that all comes through process. So when you map out a process you document a process you repeat the process over and over and over again when you scope out a project you know exactly what a comfortable timeline is for that project. You also know by the way how many how many projects you can be handling comfortably at the same exact time it’s very important that you don’t over book yourself. So I could have put a tip in here about don’t over book yourself but really I’m fitting this into process map out your process and follow it because if you map out your process and you follow your process and you repeat that every single time you know how long a project is going to take and you also know how many you can handle at the exact same time. Which means as long as you just say no and you don’t over book yourself then you’re going to be absolutely fine but over booking yourself obviously would be a cause of timeline delays because you’ve said yes to too much work and thus you can’t do that work in the allotted time. Now of course you can handle more workload if you lengthen your timelines so that is one option but there is a cap to what clients will agree to you know they’re not going to say oh you you want to deliver my project six months from that. Well that’s not really going to work for us and they are going to go find someone else but having a process very very very important mapping that process out and by the way you should be communicating this process to the client as well. Setting expectations is very important so part of that is the client needs to know what to expect in terms of process what is step one of this project what is step two of this project what is step three what is step four what is step five why does it go through these specific process. Why are these steps important how did this process come to be these are conversations you should be having with your client in fact I say one of the most important parts of a sales call is that you go over your process with the client because going over your process is a way for you to demonstrate your expertise demonstrate all the things that you are thinking about as a professional as a consultant all the things that you care about and show that we are organized we are orderly we do cross all of our T’s and dot all of our eyes we are thinking about all of these very important things that you probably didn’t even realize was part of the web design process it’s very enlightening for clients to hear all of that stuff and while they’re listening to you map out the process if you’re able to communicate it in an effective way.

The thing that’s going off in their head the entire time is expert expert expert this person is an expert at what they do they’re telling me things I didn’t even realize I needed to pay attention to this person has command of this project I want to give the project to them I want this person to lead the project and the same way you have confidence in the way you lay out your process for clients is the same confidence you need to have in the timeline if you have the utmost confidence is the same confidence is the same confidence is the same confidence you need to have in the timeline. If you have the utmost confidence in the process that this project has to go through you also by definition have the utmost confidence in how long that is going to take and so if you’re an expert laying out the process and you’re an expert laying out the timeline guess what the client is going to do they’re going to defer to your expertise they’re going to say look this guy knows what he’s talking about he saying things I didn’t even realize needed to be accounted for in this process and that’s he’s telling me it’s going to take a lot of time. If you’re telling me it’s going to take eight weeks it’s going to take eight weeks and that’s what it’s going to take and I trust him to get it done in the eight week timeframe and by the way if you lay out a process and the clients says no we needed in four weeks you can very easily just shift back to the process and say well unfortunately we can’t do all of these steps in four weeks so which step would you like to cut out which step do you feel is the least important and can be discarded and ultimately you know if your process is rock set. The process is rock solid the conclusion is there isn’t a step that we can just throw out because they’re all extremely important and so we have to do all these things we can’t do them in four weeks the only conclusion is it’s going to take longer than four weeks and then if they object by the way and they say well go find somebody who can do it in four weeks I’ll say absolutely can most likely find plenty of people who can say they’ll do it in four weeks they’re going to take out some of these steps there there’s going to be things that are not accounted for and you just have to be OK with those things not existing or with maintainability suffering or scalability suffering or the design suffering or the copy suffering. The UX is going to suffer something is going to suffer and if you’re OK with that then go go ahead go find somebody else to do it in four weeks by the way we can do it in four weeks if you just want to pick what what thing is going to suffer right but you’re not going to get a magic outcome of just you find a unicorn who can do it perfectly in four weeks this is a project that takes longer than four weeks right there’s there’s simple rules of production of different things where where are you going to produce a lower quality thing or what are you going to do with the other things. So you can do a quality thing or we’re going to take more time to produce the higher quality version and that you can’t escape that you can’t get around it so as long as you map out your process and follow it you’re good from an agency and freelancer perspective right one thing I do see that causes delays is there’s just no process there’s no documented process of things are disorganized things fall through the cracks then we actually have done work we need to redo because it was done improperly because we didn’t have the right process in place. Of course all of those things cause delays so not having a process which I think a lot of agencies and freelancers are guilty of they may have a process in their head a loose process but if you look at their actual actions and behaviors they’re a little bit scattered they’re a little bit all over the place and sometimes they’re at the whims of the client the client says oh well we need to focus on this part next and that pixel pushers like oh yes sir and they’re off into this other direction that’s way ahead of the game that’s we don’t need to be there. We’re off track we’re off process and yes that is going to cause delays and yes that is the fault of the freelancer that is the fault of the agency it doesn’t matter what the client has asked or requested or anything else if you agreed to it or you allow yourself to be distracted by it it’s ultimately your fault so having these processes in place where you can remind the client hey I get that’s important to you right now that is part of the client’s plan. Now that is part of our process it’s just not the step that we’re currently on so let’s focus on the step that we’re currently on let’s get it to the next step and then I assure you that stuff is going to be taken care of and again if you’re a consultant and not a pixel pusher that’s going to be a perfectly reasonable answer to give the client. Tip number three is to get everything you need during the discovery phase so you’re doing discovery to find out more about the client find out more about their competitors make sure that you understand their unique selling points make sure that you understand everything that you need to create a good user experience on the website to get their messaging across you need all of their assets the things that they’re going to be providing you in terms of images in terms of copy in terms of past advertising campaigns all of the assets that they have they need to be the delivering as many of those as possible now this doesn’t mean that everything is available to you before the project ever starts that’s usually not the case but you need to get them to give you as much background info as much existing assets as humanly possible before any work really starts to get done because you don’t want delays to happen right off the bat you want to be able to make a specific amount of progress and as you’re making that initial progress some of the stuff that you’re making is going to be a good user experience. Yes some of the stuff that hasn’t been delivered yet is now being worked on that way when you get to the point of needing those things that haven’t been provided yet they can be provided at that time but if you start off with delays right you have a very loose discovery process or you didn’t ask for certain things that you actually need in order to get started and then you officially start the project you get three inches into the design or the UX or whatever your first step is and then you realize I don’t have XYZ. You got to go back to the client you got to ask him for that now the clients distracted because they thought you had everything that you need and they thought the project was started and underway and everything is going to be running smoothly but really you’re already stuffed you’re already coming back to them and it’s just this back and forth game and it constantly happens because discovery kind of failed you didn’t get everything that you needed during the discovery phase so you need to have an onboarding process. That’s that’s part of the process we just talked about that every project should go through an onboarding process where you ask for this and that and this other thing and all of these things that has to be done and because I want you to get your project started off smoothly so that you can get plenty of work done right and typically the way our projects work is we have different phases and at every phase we revisit with the client and we review here’s what was done at this phase here’s what the project looks like right now.

Is this acceptable to you right so think about a wire frames we do a home page wireframe we come back to the client. Hey is this acceptable to you do you see anything missing do you see anything wrong with this anything that you want to adjust we’re having that meeting with the client we’re able to get through the entire wire frame because we got all the things that we needed for the wire frame in discovery maybe we don’t have all the things that we need for the full design portion or all of the content but that is kind of being got to be a lot of work. So we’re doing a lot of things in parallel but when we start the project we have everything we need to get that first phase done nice and smooth so we’re not starting out behind schedule because we didn’t get some stuff that we actually needed. So we’re going to really solid onboarding process to get all of the initial stuff that you need before a project actually begins. All right tip number four is create a game plan for your asset production so I just talked about some things are not going to be available right when the project begins for example if you’re doing copywriting for a client well the copy doesn’t exist when you start doing the wire frame. So you’re mapping out the UX you kind of have an idea of what the messaging is going to be or the narrative of the homepage and so on and so forth but you don’t have the exact written copy that’s going to be there but you do you do have a plan in place for who’s going to produce that copy right and here’s where we get into trouble a lot of times you know content and copy probably cause the biggest delays in web design projects and so I’m a big fan of not allowing the client. So I’m allowing the client to provide content and copy because this is where the client will be late all the time if a client is going to be late is usually going to be with providing copy and content so I do everything I possibly can to get the client to agree and to pay for copywriting that way we can handle the copy. Thus we have a team that handles copywriting or you can have a network of contractors that handle your copywriting so even though you don’t have the asset yet you have a plan in place for how that content is going to be produced the timeline it is going to be produced on all of this was decided ahead of time and you’re scoping face so you already know that it’s all going to fit your timeline and it’s just up to the copywriter to deliver that content there could be other things that need to be produced so you have. Maybe a graphic designer maybe don’t do the actual design of the website in house maybe that’s a third party person well you already should have them lined up ready to do the work and have an agreed timeline with them and agreed cost and all of that before you get any of this stuff underway so for us we a lot of times will contract out the design portion of it okay and so we have an in house designer but sometimes they’re busy we know that may or maybe their style is not. Maybe their style is not going to be suitable to this particular client we need to reach out to our network and get a designer to come on board to do this design that’s all handled ahead of time we already have the person in place and ready to go with an agreed timeline of yes I can do this yes I would deliver on this time yes I would deliver for this much money we already have all of that stuff mapped out when the project begins or before the project begins so all the people who need to produce the asset. They produce the assets that are ultimately needed for this site are in place what you can’t allow to happen is you can’t allow one of these things this areas of assets or content that is going to be needed to go unaccounted for to say who is supposed to do it well that should have been figured out ahead of time if the client does say they’re going to do it then yes you can put them on the hook for it but it’s really hard to come and blame the client and say hey it’s it’s off because you’re not. You know providing us stuff you can say that factually but it doesn’t feel good to say it and it’s never putting you in a good position so I try to take as much off the client’s plate as possible we handle as much asset production as we possibly can I understand that there are sometimes where the content is proprietary right maybe the client is out of state and there the only thing like the only person that can provide photos of their location or photo photos of their team for example is the client now even in those situations let’s say photos of the team we need really good photos of the team for this website I would never let the client say oh we’ll find somebody to do that OK I don’t I don’t want that to happen because guess what nobody has that assignment now really nobody is checking that box we think the client is going to find somebody to check that box but really the box is not checked and we should not consider that the client is going to find the box and we should not consider that the client is going to find the box is not a good place. We should not consider that box to be checked so guess what before a project starts when a client tells me we’re going to have XYZ handled the photos for this project I want XYZ to be somebody’s name and I want to make sure that that person has agreed to deliver on a certain timeline and that they’re aware of the timeline of this project I want to make sure that box is actually checked I don’t want it to be up in the air OK I don’t want it to be an oh well we’re finding somebody that’s not really good and we’re not ready to start the project. Because the timeline that we gave we don’t even know if the photographer can do anything relative to that timeline so we need to know who the photographer is and we need to make sure that they’ve agreed to do this according to the timeline we’ve set before we agreed to begin I had a project where they told us hey we’re we’re going to find somebody for photography they never did they never did a year later they still had not found the person for photography OK and so we could do anything we started to do that. We started the project we get into the point where we need the photos and guess what there’s no photos to be found there’s no photos to be accounted for hey Mr. Client what about those photos oh you know we’re still looking for a photographer to do it what we should have never started the project we’re a year in and so much stuff is out of whack now our process is being dismantled actively because we’re not getting the stuff that we need and then once you have delays especially very lengthy delays it’s so hard to come back and get your.

Your team and your brain refocused on a project and of course there has to be stipulations for what what constitutes a delayed project what are the consequences for delayed project ultimately we have to charge the client a reengagement fee to come back and re engage with the project nobody’s happy nobody’s happy in this situation so don’t allow it to happen if the client says oh we’re going to find a photographer or we’re going to find a copywriter for that no no no no we’re not we’re not going to find them. We’re not going to find them or it really is this when you found them let us know because that’s when we’ll be ready to start the project we’re not going to start the project with all of these loose ends being untied tie all of your loose ends before you agree to start the project and then everybody will be happy if you agree to a project starting with all of these loose ends it is a guarantee that there are going to be delays and it is a guarantee that it’s not going to be a good experience. Ultimately that is your fault it is your fault it was my fault in that project example I just gave you my fault for allowing that project to begin when they had such important loose ends untied you’ve got to tie those loose ends before you allow a project to start you are the leader of the project you are the consultant you are the expert and so your experience and expertise should say we cannot start the project until all these boxes are checked until every seat on the bus has a person in it right then the bus can take off if you’re a football team and you have to travel out of state to a important game you don’t leave one half the buses full okay everybody knows what time the buses are supposed to leave but still if you’re quarterbacking on the bus you probably need to find your quarterback then you get them on the bus then the bus is going to be a good experience. If you come on the bus then the bus can finally leave okay same thing with a project you’ve got to make sure that all the people are on the right seat before the bus leaves the station. Number five we have to shut down scope creep during our projects or we have to get the client to acknowledge the scope creep is going to create a timeline extension I don’t even call it a delay at that but we’re not delaying we’re not we’re not delivering on time we’re extending the timeline based on this new request now scope creep is something that happens on nearly every project and again it’s not something necessarily that you want to prevent because when you handle scope creep appropriately scope creep actually creeps the price of the project as well the real problem with scope creep is when you agree to do it for free so you’re saying okay we’re going to make these changes and I’m not going to charge you I’m just going to deal with them which by the way many agencies and freelancers absolutely do and you just stop doing that immediately if that is you. So it can affect income for sure but it’s also when you agree to it and it’s going to delay the timeline and you don’t make any acknowledgement of that you’re just like okay I’m going to take on more work and then you never really discuss what that’s going to do to the timeline the big problem with that is when the timeline is missed the clients going to blame you they’re going to you delivered late and you can’t go back and say well you added all these things you made all these all these changes and and but then they’re going to say well you agreed to it. And you never said you never warned us and said oh this is going to cause a timeline delay you just said you could do it right and and and honestly they’re right it is your fault again are you a pixel pusher or you a consultant are you an expert or you an amateur if you’re an expert the expert the consultant says okay I acknowledge these new requests well actually let me show you let me show you with the expert and the professional does that. So I’m going to share my screen real quick all right let me make sure that we’re we’re sharing correctly all right we are so what you’re looking at on the screen right now is called a change order this is a template that we have inside of panda dock which is the service that we currently use and love for managing all sorts of things like contracts and proposals and things like this. So a change order is when a client you have a scoped project you delivered a statement of work the statement of work that they signed literally says everything that you are going to deliver. So the minute a client says oh we want this extra thing that was not in the statement of work or we want to make some sort of significant change to the SOW or a part of the SOW this is how you handle it. Okay so you need this I’m going to provide this template for you and the only thing you have to make sure you do is actually use it okay you can’t be me you can’t be the amateur and go home okay we’ll take on the extra workload for no extra money we’ll take on the extra workload and we won’t say anything about an extended timeline we’ll just take on this burden Mr. Client no stop doing that that is not how a professional handles scope creep a professional handles scope creep with a change order and so what you do is you fill out the person’s name the URL of their website who requested this because a lot of times you know the company it might be hey Bevin accounting had a brilliant idea bevin accounting things we should add this to the website and we all had a powwow and we agree with bevin accounting okay fun bevin accounting gets put right here and then the date that bevin accounting requested this change puts right here what is the change what is the price for the change because the project price that was agreed upon clearly was assigned based on a statement of work and this idea bevin accounting is not anywhere to be found on that statement of work and so now what we’re doing is we’re changing things and we’re putting putting the name of the items that bev has requested the price of those items again they can’t be in the initial price because they’re not on the initial statement of work So we’re adding to the statement of work it only makes sense that this would add to the price as we have a price for this and then we have some additional context and then look at this field down here what is the timeline adjustment going to be based on this change order this new scope of work this all makes sense right this is all logical in your head and the thing is you’re getting this documented notice right here the client has to sign for this every change order that comes through it could be a hundred of them now I could list 20 on this one cheat right here that’s perfectly fine but if they request one thing and I put it on this change order and then I send off they sign it we do it then the next day they say oh well Fred Fred and shipping things that we should add this okay all right Fred and shipping request it party date requested here it is here’s the price here’s the timeline adjustment get the signature and so if they sign it all is well in the world because they’ve agreed hey this wasn’t the part of the initial statement of work it has an additional cost we know what the timeline delays are going to be and we’re okay with them we’re signing on the dotted line that we are okay with all of these things You have documented evidence that this is what caused the timeline, the initial timeline, to be extended to this other date over here.

You have documented evidence of this is why the price is higher than it was initially quoted. All of it is perfectly documented. Now, what will happen a lot of times? Because sometimes there’s scope creep where we just don’t want to do it. Or we don’t think it’s a good idea. Or it shouldn’t be done now. It should be done off into the future. The client is being very, very insistent. No, no, no, no, no, this has to happen. Okay, here’s the change order, here’s the price, here’s the timeline adjustment, and you give it to them. And then they start to think again. And they start to consider, is it really as important as I thought? And a lot of times what you’ll find is that they change their mind. The change order changes their mind.

And suddenly, that scope creep that they were telling you was absolutely critical, not so critical after all. And they just decide, ah, we’ll take care of it later. Let’s not worry about it now. And you’re off the hook, right? And you don’t have to be the bad guy saying, no, we’re not going to do it. Or I refuse to do that. Or anything else. You don’t really have to have any discussions. Just write up the change order. Once they see the price and a potential timeline adjustment, they start to rethink things on their own, you don’t even have to be a part of the conversation. And those come back to you and say, never mind, we change our mind. Bevin’ accounting doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Or we’ll handle that later.

Let’s just keep on moving on with the work that you guys are doing. And guess what? For you, it’s like awesome. Right back on track with the process that we had. There’s no disruption any further. So you need to implement this immediately. If you’re not doing change orders, I’m going to give you this template. Implement this. What I have to do is to actually do it. And I get it. In the beginning, it’s difficult. In the beginning, the client has changes. And you want to feel like you’re accommodating to the client. You want to feel, oh, we’re buddy, buddy. Oh, I got your back, Mr. client.

Whatever you need, Mr. client, you just pick up that phone and we’re going to fulfill all your requests. And while that does seem like, oh, that’s great and that’s fantastic. If you can do that, really you’re doing yourself a disservice. What you’re doing, the client a disservice and you’re creating a situation where someone is likely to be unhappy. If you make the client happy, it’s you. This likely to be unhappy because you’re going to look back on the project and you’re going to go, man, I had to work an extra Saturday or Sunday. I didn’t go to my kid’s softball game or I had to stay up late. I’m not getting the sleep that I wanted because I had to do all this extra work for the client. Oh, I’m having trouble paying my bills because you didn’t charge extra for all the extra work that you’re doing. You’re going to be the unhappy one.

If you don’t do this and you still make the client happy, it’s you that’s suffering. Now if it’s not you that’s suffering, it’s the client that’s suffering because you’re not hitting the timelines, right? Or you, some, I’ve seen agencies and freelancers agree to do extra work and then after they do the extra work, they deliver the client an invoice for that extra work and the client said, whoa, you never said this is going to cost extra money. You just said you could do it. Now they’re in a begrudging battle of like, I’m not going to pay that or oh, yeah, you are. And I’m not going to continue. Oh, my gosh, that you’ve just completely blown up this entire situation. The change order prevents all of that. It’s professional. It’s upfront. It’s doc just like the SOW.

It’s documented. It like makes sense that this would be part of the process. Okay? And if the client’s like, oh, disgusted that they sent me a change order for them, they’re going to try to charge me more. But what is their argument? Is there argument that you should just do a bunch of extra work for free or make all of these changes for free? No, I mean, if that’s what their argument is, then they’re trying to take advantage of you. And this is an unemotional way to put a barrier between you and a client that is trying to take advantage of you. Most clients though are not trying to take advantage of you. They’re going to see the change order and what they’re going to do is say, well, that makes sense.

I mean, we’re asking for more work. There’s a cost associated with that work. There’s a timeline adjustment associated with that work. And then they’re going to start rethinking how important is this change? Okay? And that’s it. And it’s still going to be a really good experience for them. So that is an implement a change order and you will kill scope creep. And if you don’t kill scope creep, it’s okay. Because you’re getting paid for the scope creep. You’re getting a revenue creep as well. Number six, this is very, very simple to do. You want to add a revisions limit to your contract. Now we go back to our process, right? So we have our process mapped out ready to go rock solid and we repeat it every single time.

You know what that process entails? It doesn’t just entail wire frames. It entails wire frames with a limit of three revisions. You know what that process entails? Design. But it doesn’t just entail design that’s such an open-ended nebulous thing. It includes high fidelity mockups of x-page, y-page, and z-page with a maximum of three rounds of revisions or two rounds of revisions or one round of revisions. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with based on the prices that you are charging. You cannot do unlimited revisions. You cannot allow clients to just assume there’s unlimited revisions. Your contract will state, hey, there are three rounds of revisions. What happens after the third round? Or there’s two rounds of revisions. What happens after the second round?

After the second round, it’s going to cost this much money to do another round of revisions. All of this is laid out ahead of time. And so because clients will, if you allow them to, they will walk all over you and they will ask for an unlimited amount of revisions. Oh, we want to redo this. Oh, we want to redo that. Especially, especially if there are already delays in the project. This happens all the time because the client revisits something with what are now a fresh set of eyes because the project is so delayed, right? And the client’s been so busy and the clients, you know, so they come back and they start looking at something that they only looked at three months ago and they’re like, oh, I now see some things I want to change. Guess what? Now here comes another round of revisions. And then more delays and then they revisit it and then fresh eyes again.

And they’ll always see more things I want to say. Here’s the next round of revisions. Or I’ve even had it where it’s like, oh, well, you know, Becky is not with us anymore. So we need to remove Becky from the site. We need to add this other person. And if the project is delayed for an extended amount of time, I mean, this could happen multiple times. Oh, well, this other person is not here. Now we’re going to add Fred to the website. And it’s like, what were we doing here? We’re managing a website that’s not even live, right? You can’t allow this to happen. So there’s a set amount of revisions that a person can request. And if they want to do more revisions after that, they’re perfectly fine to do more revisions, but they get hit with a change order.

Like we just talked about, right? So it’s now the communication is, hey, Mr. Client, you’ve met your allotted amount of revision rounds for this step of the process. And what we’re doing is giving you a change order for the remaining revisions that you want to do. Here’s how much they’re going to cost. And here’s the timeline adjustment for those. And guess what? The client starts to think. The gears start turning. Okay, I guess the revisions aren’t that important right now. We can launch as is. And then maybe we’ll do some changes down the road. Exactly. I’m glad we agree.

Let’s move forward. So once again, the change order saves you. But so does it’s really hard to slap them with a change order. Let me just back up and make this very clear. Very hard to slap them with a change order when the contract says nothing about a limited revision round. Okay. So it has to be in the contract that they sign up front that the revisions for each step by the way, wire frames, how many revisions, design mockups, how many revisions, copywriting, how many revisions, anything that requires their input and their feedback that can then get changed needs to have a limit on the number of rounds of revisions. That gives you all that you need to then give them a change order when that amount of revisions is reached. Again, if you give them a change order out of the blue for something that wasn’t stated ahead of time, like there was no cap on this ahead of time, you’re going to get into that shouting mess situation again.

Why are you giving me a change order? I’m just trying to get the thing that I want done. Here you are trying to charge me more money. If you have it in your contract and you say, well, here’s the thing, we did three rounds of revisions already. And in fact, I don’t send, if I say limited to three rounds of revisions, a lot of times I’ll do a fourth round. But if it goes beyond that, then I give them the change order because I can say, look, we did three rounds of revisions. I actually gave you an extra round and it’s still happening. So now we have to move to a change order and we have to charge for these extra rounds of revisions. So you gave them a little bit of a gift, right? It makes it very, very difficult to argue with you. It says it in the contract.

I gave you a little bit of a gift extension and now I just got to charge. I mean, this bottom line time is money and this is taking more time, more effort, more energy. It’s got to be more money at this point. And so that’s very logical. There’s no, there doesn’t have to be any emotion involved in that. And again, the change order saves you. But so does your contract that limits revisions up front that they sign and agree to. Or the project begins. Tip number seven is very important. It is to communicate proactively and there’s many ways to do this. But what I would highly recommend you install in your process is what I call a Monday Mingle. So if you have a project manager, maybe you’re the project manager, maybe you’re the everything person, maybe you wear all the hats.

It doesn’t matter. You need to be doing a Monday Mingle with every single active client that you have on your roster. And what a Monday Mingle is is very, very simple. It’s, hey, Mr. Client, it’s Monday morning. I hope you had a great weekend. You detail all the stuff you did for them last week. And then you detail all the stuff you’re planning on doing for them this week. And then you also detail what you need from them in order to do these things. If you’re behind on anything, you note, hey, we’re behind on this. Here’s what we need in order to get caught up if you’re still waiting on the client for something. But you’re doing this every single Monday. And so guess what? The client knows what to expect, when to expect this communication.

They know when they wake up on Monday morning, they’re getting a note from you with all these things. And it makes them feel good about the project. Also, it is a communication track record. If you get one of those clients that’s non-responsive or that doesn’t communicate very well or that kind of ignores you, and this is the reason for delays, guess what? You have a pile of documentation. If this should ever go to court or there should ever be any talk of legalities and suing and any of this, or you owe me this, or it was your fault. No, no, no. You have a pile of Monday Mingles. Here’s Monday March 2nd. Here’s Monday March 9th. Here’s Monday March, you get the point, right? Where we outlined every part of this stuff that we’re doing, what we’re waiting on, and you never took the time to respond.

You never replied. We tried to pick up the phone after three of these missed ones. You didn’t answer. We left a message. You didn’t call us back. So how, Mr. Client, are you now blaming us for these delays? You have the evidence you need. And guys, this isn’t just about evidence. I want to make it very clear. Proactive communication is just very, very important in the work that we do. So proactive communication is going to give the client the sense that, oh my God, this is a high touch agency. This agency or this business is free lancer that I’m dealing with. They are really excellent at communication. And a lot of times you’ll see in their reviews, you know, they’ll leave you, hey, excellent communication.

I was never unclear of like where my project is or what’s going to happen next or anything like that. They love that. They love feeling that you are in charge of the project. I think one of the big things that I see very, very often that takes a problem and compounds it is a agency or a freelancer will say, well, the client’s been unresponsive. So I’m going to ignore them. I’m going to stop contacting them. I’m just going, hey, if they want to, if they want to ignore me or ignore their responsibility to deliver XYZ. I’m just going to go pay attention to other clients. That is, avoid that at all costs. That is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, because it makes you look just as bad as them. Because now they’re going to say, well, you disappeared. Well, no, you disappeared.

Now you’re pointing fingers about who disappeared and who wasn’t responsive and who wasn’t communicated. Oh, we were waiting on you. No, we were waiting on you. You don’t want to be in that situation. 100% you do not want to be in that situation. So do your responsibility of proactive communication and the easiest way to do that is with a documented Monday mingle. We use base camp as our project management software. We do the Monday mingle for every single project in that company’s message board in base camp. It’ll say Monday mingle and the date and then there’s the whole documented thing. If they reply to it, that’s all documented. One of the reasons we use project management software and recommend that you use project management software is that it auto documents everything.

All of the tasks, all of the dates, all of the messages, the dates on the messages, everything that is important is documented inside of base camp. The client knows that it’s documented inside of base camp. Very often base camp has absolutely saved our ass where the client says, no, we never told you to do that. Guess what? I got a change order, Mr. client. We put this change order into base camp. We actually had a discussion in base camp about these changes and here were your replies. We have this whole thing on record, basically. There’s many, many, many times. There’s even times where the client is unsure of something and we can go into base camp and find out what were the tasks related to that who completed them when were they completed and so on and so forth. So document everything inside of base camp or your project management software.

This is all part of your process by the way if we go back to an earlier tip of having a process, having a place to manage that process and manage your projects. But for sure, Monday, Mangle, we’ll save your butt and it will make your clients feel really, really, really good about your pro activity and your communication and it’s going to help you hit your timelines better because you’re very clearly outlining here’s what we did, here’s what we’re going to do next, here’s what we need and a client that is on the ball is going to be like, oh, they need this now. Okay, I got to get it to them and then they deliver what they need. And if you never did that Monday, Mangle, another week Mangle by before you get it and there you go, that’s another lost week of productivity. You don’t want to lose weeks of productivity. So the simple proactive communication of a Monday, Mangle can really, really make sure things stay stream-wide. All right, tip number eight, you need to have a network of contractors that you can tap for overflow work.

So as I mentioned, we kind of have our steady in-house designer, but they can only handle so much work or they can only handle certain styles of work. So when I need other designers, guess what? I have a plethora of backup designers who I can call up and say, hey, I really need you. Can you get this done by XYZ date? Can you get it done for this amount of money? And they either say yes or no. Usually they say yes. If they do happen to say no, next phone up, I got another person I can ring. I got five, six, seven, eight designers that I can contact at any given time to help with overflow work. Or hey, we got a project that we really need to finish that we got behind on. It was our fault. I need you to bail me out.

Are you available? Yes, I’m available. Come on in. Let’s get this overflow work done. That’s happened from time to time. No agency in freelance business is perfect, right? You need to have people that are willing and able to back you up. So you need graphic designers on call. You need copywriters on call. You need advertisers on call like people who can handle PPC stuff or Facebook ads or whatever. And by the way, this is just sometimes for referral where the client is saying, hey, we really need to get PPC ads up and running. Can you do it? Well, no, I don’t really do that. But I do have someone who does and they’re really, really good at it.

So let me put you in contact with them. And now suddenly you’re a connector, being a connector makes you valuable. So have this network of people who can handle overflow work. Again, designers, copywriters, people who can do wire framing, people who can dev. Oh my gosh, the most important part of a web design agency most likely, getting the actual dev work done. So if you need overflow help with development, you need to have developers on call who can get the work done. And by the way, when I say people on call, I mean, these are people who can do tasks without being babysat. So if you have people on call, but you have to babysit them, that’s not usually good. Because if there’s overflow work that you need done ASAP and you needed done right, you probably don’t have the time to sit there and babysit them. So you need people on call who you are confident in that you give them the task and that task is going to get done and it’s going to get done on time.

Very important for you to build this network. If you’re in the inner circle, which is why you’re watching this video, you already have a network available to you for all of these things. It’s just your job to start connecting with people inside of the inner circle. We also have the job board that you can use, but it’s very easy to build a network like this inside the inner circle. And you’ll have plenty of people in all these different genres of expertise that you can tap on when the time comes. Tip number nine, push delayed deliverables to a future phase. There will come times where something that the client wants is just, it’s too big or it’s causing, it’s too complicated or it’s causing delays. And what you end up having to do is having a conversation with the client where you say, all right, listen, what we need, this thing that is basically preventing us from getting to the finish line right now, it’s actually not that important. We can do it after we get to the finish line and launch the site.

Then we can work on this in the background and launch it when it’s ready. Not everything falls into that bucket there, but there are often some things that fall into that bucket. And sometimes this happens where the client wants a lot in phase number one. And when you look at it, it’s like, well, if we were building like a minimum viable product or in this case a minimum viable project, some of these things would not be included on that list. They’re actually not required. We can actually get traffic to the site. We can get customers even on this website without XYZ feature. And so if XYZ feature, like we bid off more than we can chew, and sometimes you have to come back to the client and say, listen, I really, really want to say, I’m going to really have high hopes for being able to get this feature into this first version, but it looks like it’s going to cause too many delays. And this happens on complicated projects because there are some things where you just can’t foresee the amount of stuff that needs to happen.

And so it’s up to you as the expert, as the consultant, as the honest, you know, business leader that you are to meet with the client and say, we really, really were confident in getting this feature into this release. It’s going to delay the timeline too much. And we don’t want to delay the timeline that much. So what we propose is immediately after launching version one of this, we are going to make sure this XYZ feature gets worked on. And then as like a phase 1.1, and then we’re going to get it launched ASAP afterwards. But we don’t want it to delay the timeline. We don’t want it to delay the launch of the site. We don’t think that it needs to be in the launch of the website because someone can still come to the site. They can still buy the product. It’s just not going to have this extra feature. Okay.

And I’m talking very abstract because I don’t really know. Every project is different, right? But there’s going to be times where this happens. It happens on my own sites. There’s my own sites that I launched when I relaunched when I relaunch the new automatic CSS website when I launched the frames website. There were things that I wanted that just didn’t need to be in phase one. If we had said, oh, you know what, the custom change log has to be in phase one. You know what, the whole documentation center has to be in phase one. That’s all got to be there before. Well, we never would have released the initial version. We never would have gotten the initial sales that we got. We were able to add those things at a later date. So let’s take the change log, for example. Does the custom change log have to be there for version one?

No. Well, let’s push version one out. You can just put use notion or whatever for the change log right now, temporarily, and then as soon as we launch, we’ll work on the custom change log. That’s an exact example of how this may go with a client, right? There’s some alternative way that we can deliver this feature in the meantime. Let’s not let it delay the launch of the website. So we’re just taking something that is like causing a roadblock and finding a way to navigate around it and say, take this roadblock and just set it over here for a minute. Now it’s not a roadblock anymore. We can get this website launched and then we’ll come back to that. We’ll take care of it ASAP after launch. That is a really good solution in certain circumstances. It is a technique in your tool bag. I just want you to wreck.

I just want to make sure that you don’t forget it’s there. So when you need it, reaching that tool bag and take this tool out and say, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to take this piece, this roadblock, and we’re going to move it so it’s no longer delaying the actual launch. We’ll take care of it at a later date. All right. Tip number 10, the final tip, quite possibly the most important tip in this list. It is to get paid up front as much as humanly possible. I would say that about 60% of my projects pay up front. These are projects that sometimes are $10,000, $30,000, $50,000. You can get paid up front for these types of projects. A lot of people don’t think that is possible. I will assure you it is possible. It happens again, like I said, 60% of the time in my agency.

I do provide a small discount for paying up front. The reason I give a discount for paying up front is, number one, it is tremendous insurance. So it seems like I pay for any other insurance, right? I got to give them a discount. That’s my payment for this insurance. Not only is it insurance, though, it also really helps workflow, right? If you’re on a milestone payment plan, which I highly recommend you avoid at all costs, I have a great article on why you should not do the milestone payment thing. If you have the milestone payments, number one, your money is at risk because if you don’t hit a milestone and usually it’s the client’s fault for not hitting the milestone, but guess what? That doesn’t mean they’re still going to pay you. They’re most certainly not going to pay you. It’s going to impact your cash flow and it’s also going to impact the timeline tremendously, right?

You’re like, well, if you’re not paying, then I’m not moving on to the next part of the timeline for sure. I’m not doing any extra work. So now you’re in this tug of war situation in the middle of an active project. If they pay all the money upfront, this never happens. You’re not chasing them for money. You’re not chasing them for payments. You’re not bickering about payments. You’re not bickering about timelines. You’re not waiting for payments to clear their account. Oh, well, we sent it by check. It came in the mail. You’ll get it in 10 business days. Well, 10 business days where I’m waiting on a check is 10 business days where work isn’t getting done.

So anytime you can get money out of the picture, right? And the best way to do that is by getting all the money upfront, you’re protected. The timeline is protected. Your cash flow is protected. All of that is not a thought anymore. It’s not a worry. It’s not a point of anxiety. It’s not a point of delay. It is just really, really, really smooth. And you’re going to love it once it happens, once a client pays you upfront, you’re going to love it because it’s like, oh my gosh, I am just free to get the work done. And then I’ve had situations where clients still became unresponsive, still fail to deliver month after month after month goes by, they still haven’t got us those damn photos, right? And it’s okay. It’s perfectly okay because I have their money.

I have their money. I don’t need the photos. I have their money. They can delay this project for the next 10 years. I don’t care. Right? I have the money. I have the documentation. I have the sign contract. What else do I need? When they come around and decide to make this thing a priority, we’ll show back up and guess what at that point in time, they’ll also pay a re-engagement fee, right? Because that’s in our contract as well. So when you’re paid upfront, you’re fully protected. The more you can get paid upfront for projects, the, the, the, you need to make this a, a, a point.

And if you have to give a discount to get people to pay upfront, it’s absolutely worth giving them a discount in the, in the insurance that you get from it, the cash flow protection that you get from it. And just recouping the money in general, there are so many agencies and freelancers where a client goes unresponsive, they’ve done work, they never get the rest of the money. Ever, they never, the client never comes back. They never get the rest of the money if they got paid upfront on that project, they would at least have the money. It doesn’t matter if the client comes back or not, okay? So tip number 10, final tip, get paid upfront as much as possible. It is immensely valuable. And you are going to love it and you’re going to want it to happen for every project once it happens. And it really is just a case of where you have to realize it’s possible. I think people don’t even ask for getting paid upfront in full because they just think it’s not possible.

They think nobody’s going to agree to it. They’re like, why would anybody pay me before I do any work? I like pay me in full before I do any work? Well, it’s all about professionalism. It’s all about expertise. It’s all about presenting yourself as a consultant with a really, really good reputation. And then giving them that little bit of a discount and you would be surprised how many people will just hand over the full amount and say, all right, I trust you to get it done. Now at that point, you better not eff it up. You better deliver, okay? If you’re going to get people to pay upfront, you better deliver on time. You better deliver high quality. You better deliver everything that you said you were going to deliver. Otherwise, it is going to look really bad on you. You’re taking some risk in the sense that you better deliver when somebody pays in full upfront.

But I’m talking to you as a professional. I assume you’re a professional. I assume you’re an expert or working towards expertise and that you are going to show up. And so I’m confident in telling you to ask for the full amount knowing that you’re going to deliver. Now it’s up to you to actually come through, okay? So those are the 10 tips. I really hope you found this helpful. I think if you implement these 10 tips, you are absolutely going to see more of your projects happening smoothly, getting delivered on time. And when there are delays, you are not the one suffering the consequences of those delays. Cheers.