Politely letting client know that extra work costs more

Hi everyone,

I spoke to my client on the phone yesterday. We’re about halfway through the design stages of a website project that I’m undertaking for him, and yesterday’s phone conversation was for him to give initial feedback on the designs I’ve made for him.

He mentioned in passing that two additional features he wants to include are a forum and user profile system, but I got the impression that he was expecting these to be included as part of the original quote, which obviously I’m not too happy about.

I’ve never been in a situation like this before. He’s expecting an email from me today with answers to a few questions and I was hoping to mention that I need to increase the project cost slightly to be able to include these extra features he’s asked for.

I’m a bit nervous about saying this, mainly because I don’t want to ruin our at present good business relationship. How have people dealt with this in the past? What is a good way of saying “oi, I want more money!”?


Do you have an agreement with your client with the details of the work that will be completed for the work you created?

If so, then you need to point out that the new features he wants are additional work and will be need to be added to the quote. Give him a quote for the new work and ask if he would like you to proceed. If he says “yes”, then add the work to the agreement with the additional cost (or create a new agreement) and do the work. It’s as simple as that.

If they push back on the fact that it will cost more money, simply point to your original agreement.

Yes, the original proposal states clearly that the quoted cost is for what’s outlined in the proposal and nothing more. Argh I hate discussing money/payment with clients, I wish it wasn’t so awkward.

I think the client should always be able to see a breakdown of the cost by task. Just say you estimate it’s going to add x hours, which will cost $xxx extra.

Honestly, I was surprised to see your reply that you do have an Agreement set up which outlines the cost and what is included. I’d say 99% of the questions like this usually reply with “we talked about it but didn’t have a contract”. So you are already way ahead of the game here. :wink:

When it comes to talking about extra work, the main thing is to discuss it with them and not sound apologetic about it. It’s just business.

Usually, I will say something like: “We would be happy to work with you on adding a forum and user profile system, but since these features are outside our original Agreement, we will provide you with an amendment to the Agreement with a quote for the additional work.”

I just actually had a client try to add extra work onto a project and I told them the same thing. They were receptive to it and understood that we hadn’t talked about that in the beginning so we are going to explore those avenues after completing the original Agreement. Honestly, if you have an Agreement with the objectives laid out, there really isn’t much for them to claim. They might WANT you to do it as part of the same deal, but business is business and time is money.

It may be uncomfortable, but after a while it becomes more natural and you will be more comfortable discussing it with a client. And I assure you, it will happen again and again. :wink:

Raise the project cost slightly? Quite a lot, surely? Those are major additions, so there’s nothing to feel awkward about.

I think you may be worrying unnecessarily. If your client runs a business and sells something to his customers, he wouldn’t expect them to ask for - and get - extra products or services free of charge. And in the same way, when he asks you for additional services that are clearly a significant addition to the original specification, he won’t be expecting them to be free either.

He will be expecting you to say exactly what previous posters have suggested, i.e. you say ‘No problem, we can add the forum and the user profiles. They’re not included in the original specification, of course, so I’ll have to give you a quote for adding these extra features’.

In a general sense, whatever you do, don’t sound apologetic or embarrassed when talking about your fees. You’re in business. They’re in business. Everyone knows the score - you have to pay for what you want.

And when I say ‘don’t sound apologetic’, I don’t just mean the words that you use. I mean your intonation, stress and tone of voice too! Don’t do that ‘going up at the end of the sentence’ thing that makes everything sound tentative and questioning. It sounds so weak and feeble. (Don’t do it in the UK, at least. This doesn’t apply in AUS/NZ, obviously!) Think of Barack Obama - he could read out the instructions on a can of beans and make it sound like a matter of grave national importance. That’s the effect you’re after. :wink:


As you said it’s a business relationship. You’re both in it to make money. Tell him:

“As we’ve discussed before, these additional options will increase the scope and complexity of the project beyond our original agreement and so I’ll have to adjust the price to reflect this.”

Still, if it’s like 5% or 10% extra work, consider just doing it without charging extra - after all you should’ve overcharged them to begin with. :slight_smile:

that’s normal if you really mean business unless you’re running a charity.