Losing money from clients

I’m in serious need of some advice.

I work for this design and development agency. Mind you, I only work there sudo part time and for $15 less an hour than what I should be paid. The reason for this is because the agency doesn’t make enough money to hire me on full time or for the average wage I should be getting.

There’s two main reason they don’t make enough money. The first reason is that there is this attitude of having to meet the requests of every client. Even if it means we loose money and time doing so, and second .We can’t get any better clients, because we spend so much time on meeting every need the clients we can’t put out the quality work needed to get better clients.

Now, I understand meeting the discussed and agreed upon requirements of the project, but that’s not what I’m talking about. For instance today I just launched a website that we’ve been building on and off for about 6 months. The client was supper slow at approving the phases of the project and getting us the needed content for the site.

But yay, It’s launched. Until about three hours later, they asked for a whole new set functionality for the site. They approved the design and they approved the staging site. Then out of the blue, after the project should have been filed under “complete” they said “By the way we want this, too”.

This isn’t my first time at the rodeo. I’ve seen this plenty of times while working as a freelancer, but the project manager is seriously trying to get me to do this for free. As a freelancer I would just tell the client that they approved everything, and I can’t add any new development without additional fees. As far I know this is normal, but it’s not only the project manager, but every person at this agency does thing like this. Am I crazy? Is it normal to just keep doing more and more work without charging the client?

I don’t think I am, and I’ve been trying to get everyone there to understand this and nothing is sinking in. Don’t get me wrong I love working there and I like the people I work with, but it seems like they have no business sense at all.

This is effecting me directly, because since they do things like this the agency doesn’t have enough money to hire me on full time.

What can I do to get them to stop these bad business practices? It’s like this for every single project. Like I said I like working there, and I don’t want to quit on them. Being the only steady web developer they’ve ever had for 10 years, but I’m at wits end.

If anyone has any advice, I really appreciate it.

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Seriously, my advice would be to abandon ship before you get to the iceberg, because this outfit is on a collision course. It’s as simple as that. It’s not a properly run operation, and it’s not your job to fix it.

Take an hour off and listen to this recent podcast: http://ctrlclickcast.com/episodes/practical-pricing

What kind of a contract do they have with their client?

One very important thing that it should contain is a detailed description of the requirements and scope of the project AND a statement that any work beyond the scope of this description is billable at a particular rate/hour above and beyond the original agreed upon price.

You need that to avoid having the client come back later with additions not included in the original agreement.

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That’s the kicker. I don’t get to see the contracts, but I’m told they do spell out the requirements and details of the project.

Just because I think it’s funny. :smile: There’s another “client”. Not really a client but a friend we’re doing a favor for. Who’s site is completely done and is ready to be launched the second she gives approval. She also asked just today, for a whole new section for her site.

As an individual hired part-time on a freelance basis you are merely a body to complete tasks. That is all you are. Of course no one is going to listen to. That is the way of the business world. Regardless I don’t think you would know whether the company is loosing money or not. Just because their business processes aren’t up to your expectations doesn’t necessarily mean they are loosing money. If they are than that is their business not yours. You’re just a part-time freelancer being paid to complete tasks and no one probably wants to hear anymore from you. People don’t like to be told what they are doing wrong unless they ask. Especially not people whom are giving you job and in all reality how they determine to handle their business is none of your damn business. You’re being paid to do a job and if don’t like it tough. As long as you’re getting paid you shouldn’t care how much they are “wasting”. That is neither your business nor responsibility as a part time freelancer.

What are the conditions you are working for this company under? Do you have a contract that specifies the basis under which you are undertaking the work?

If not why not?

Your contract with them should specify the basis on which you are being paid. If you are not a party to the contracts that determine what work needs to be undertaken for a given project (and it sounds like you are not as you don’t even get to see the contracts to see the project scope) then you should be getting an hourly rate. Then if they go over budget due to their mistakes you either get paid your rate for the extra work or they have to find someone else to do it.

Your sorta right, but not. I think the problem is that the agencies niche is cause related clients. Those types of clients don’t have a ton of money, which I get, but there’s a line there. Doing pro-bono work comes with the territory. It’s more of this is they they been working for years and just can’t change. There biggest fear is that they will piss off a client and loose them.

No, I actually get involved with the agencies finances more than the other employees. And it’s small there are only 5 employees including me.

This is a “company” with only 4 full time employees?

There’s nothing unusual about that. My company only has one employee - me.

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I never said there was anything “unusual” about it.

Yeah, 2 designers, two project managers, 1 dev and the owner.

No my situation is good. I get a min of 24 hrs and more if there are projects that need it. I usually get more than the base 24hrs.

I guess from your point of view, it doesn’t really matter if there is scope creep involved, just in case you make sure that you invoice for all the hours that you work on the project and don’t work for nothing for fear that the company will stop using your services.

If they want your services, they need to be prepared to pay fairly.

Scope creep is an inevitable part of software development. One reason I work salary at a company rather than as a lone freelancer who can easily be taken advantage of. In my experience no one ever knows what they really want. I can’t fathom the pain and agony of working freelance with no one between I and client. That just sounds horrible knowing all the uncertainty and expectations of typical clients who know very little about technology what they actually want/need. I can’t imagine no being paid for work because of an ignorant client.

Are you able to source your own, additional clients in your name? Sounds you are too good for ‘them’.

I make that 6, but I guess you’re not counting the owner - that said, the business absolutely has to support 6 people.

I’ve no idea what the workflow is, but having two project managers ‘sounds’ like overkill for the size of business. Whilst they may be chargeable to the customers, practically they don’t produce an output as such - I know they’ll be capturing requirements and generating plans, but they are rather ephemeral and have a life that doesn’t extend much beyond the delivery of the site itself. Does it feel that way to you?

It’s not about getting paid. It’s about the company being successful. Loosing money on this unpaid scope creep is stunting the growth of the business. I get there’s scope creep, but there’s scope creep and then there’s free work.

Their titles are project managers, but that’s not all they do. One does all the office management stuff. Pay bills, sending invoices, etc, and she also does the marketing and social media for us and the clients. The other one is also part time and also does the copy editing, They do more than just project management.

All of us have multiple roles. The two designer write/edit copy and are in charge of the interns. They are also in charge of this intern outsourcing thing we do. I do dev, IT, maintaining our servers, and generally anything internet except social media.

There’s more than enough work to go around. We just lose out on some money because of these bad practices and unnecessarily giving away free work.

I do some side work/projects, but my focus is on the agency’s work.

No, I’m not too god for them. That’s a pretty negative way of looking at things.

That’s one of reasons I like working there. We all know that we have limitations. Like, I can’t design my way out of a paper bag and totally suck at writing, so I hand that stuff off to others. I know the web stuff, so when they ask me about something they usually accept it as law. There’s no ego there, for the most part.