By Miles Burke

Stop that Stalling

By Miles Burke

Stop that Stalling

It is unfortunately a fact of business life; the stalled project. The client starts all enthusiastically, and for one reason or another, before you know it, a month has passed and you’re finding it difficult to make contact with them.

So what do you do? How do you re-engage this client?

I’ve had this happen every year since I started my business nearly nine years ago. We’ve become quite adept at dealing with this situation, and I’ll take you through what we do.

Start by following up, alternating between email and telephone. Never leave the frequency of your contact attempts to drop slower than every two weeks.

If that doesn’t get their attention, I request a meeting with the client. It’s often a case of misunderstanding, rather than anything else. Getting together to discuss in person is a whole lot more productive at this point than the occasional contact attempt.

Point out they have a responsibility too. I always tend to let the client know I’m following up regularly, because I’m genuinely keen to see their website go live.

Ask them to delegate. Websites frequently get agreed to by someone either senior management, or the owner themselves. They aren’t typically the ideal people to deal with, however, because of their busy schedules. I suggest that you encourage them to delegate the task of dealing with the website to a subordinate.

Send them a gift at anniversaries. Should the project really drag out, I’ve been known to send a bottle of wine at the six month point, as a subtle way to get them back on track. This really works; they call to thank you and before you know it, you’ve gotten talking about the outstanding decisions, content, and material you need.

Clearly list what you require. I always end most of my emails with action points—both for myself as well as the client. In this case, I would ask them, repeatedly if necessary, for the information or content you need to finalize the work.

Best of luck getting that stalled project back on track!

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  • Nick Beske

    Suggesting delegation and sending a gift are great ideas. The only thing worse than a stalled project is when the client decides to pick it back up after several weeks of putting you off and then expect next day turnarounds. Trying to work a stalled project back into the mix after you’ve already picked up new business stressful. Thanks for the tips!

  • Zed

    At the start of a website project the Owner introduced me this project’s contact person(his daughter). Actually I made a mistake telling them a too nearly finish date. So I worked hard but after two appointments the contact person was not available when I asked her for having a meeting. After that we had a hard talk conversation by phone about how important is this project for them if they don’t even have time for a 20 mins meetings per week.
    This was the time the project had been stallen.
    In the end the Owner called why had we stop the work. I finished the website following his instructions. It emerged he had forced the girl to start a business and the 1st task was to let this website make.
    Actually I had to wait more then a half year to get paid because the business had not started.
    Consequence Starting a project means not only the first talk about the actual tasks and design,form,content elements. But about the target audience,the goals the client wants to achieve by having a website and the milestones of the process of building up their site.
    Anyway thanks for Sitepoint I’ve learnt a lot from you guys! :)

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