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Thread: Balancing customer needs

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Balancing customer needs

    I'm in a slight dilemma on how to handle two different potential customers needs, mainly in with regards to time frames....

    I quoted on some work, and the quote was accepted. This was about two months ago (the first contact I had was on 2007/02/14, and the quote was delivered shortly after that). Then I was told that contracts were being sorted out. The contract was finally given to me on 2007/03/14.

    The contract was quite heavily skewed in the customers favour, so I got some feedback from an attorney and returned the contract with the feedback, as had been discussed with the client. There is another contractor involved, who has been going through pretty much the same process. Then the requested changes needed to be approved....

    It is now more than a month later, and there has been no visible movement on this. I was contacted this week by another potential client that I had quoted for quite a while ago, but there were internal issues that resulted in the project being on hold for a while. They would now like to go ahead, which is great, but also presents a bit of a dilemma.

    I now sit in a situation were I need to re–quote, which means I should commit to some time frame, but I'm not sure when this other project will materialise. Obviously there could be further delays with either of these projects.

    I have contacted the guys who are taking some time to finalise contracts and let them know what the situation is, and that I need to get some idea of when the work will begin, but nothing useful so far. The other contractor is also getting a bit grumpy about the delays.

    I would like to be able to do both projects, for the experience and potential future business that it could bring in, but I'm not really prepared to make promises that I won't be able to fulfil.

    So what do you reckon the best path is? Quote as if the work will begin soon? Figure out where the fastest money is coming from and satisfy them? Quote as if I am available, and then deal with the impact that that could have on the other project?
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    Email problem RKS Computer Solutions's Avatar
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    Duncan,

    If I may so bold as to suggest the following:

    In a situation where multiple contracts are being tendered for at the same time, especially where the quotation is in regards to on-site work, mention in your Terms and Conditions that should the situation arise where 2 contracts are accepted and the go-ahead given at the same time, that the contract whose go-ahead was first to arrive, will be dealt with first...

    It might not be the 100% ideal way to deal with your customers, but it will surely put some of them on the right track in regards to discussed time lines at the beginning of the tender process. This will however keep you on the legal side of the tender process whereby you have the law (in this case your Terms and Conditions) backing you should a customer be unhappy because you can't start a project because of being busy with another.

    Also, on your quotation, make a detailed mention of the fact that "first come, first served" is a process in which your company believes and that should any quotation be accepted, that it would be dealt with at the soonest possible time.

    Though this might scare off some customers in believing that their project might be side-tracked for other contracts, it should be your derogative to communicate effectively to your clients that every project is as important as the next and you hold all customers dear to your company.

    You know the chance of both contracts being accepted is great, but if the time comes and you can't decide on which one to go for, or your stalling one in the hope that the bigger one might come soon, you may face the possibility of losing both... In this manner you can be assured that the midnight oil you've been burning for the contracts, not only pay off, but also build a great relationship with your customers in knowing their needs and being able to assure them that you will only give them your absolute best service at all times, even if they have to wait an extra week for the work to start happening.

    I hope this helps

  3. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Some thoughts positively leap to mind. But mainly - Believe everyone and wait for no-one.

    Within our business I am regularly told that this or that deal is coming. Hey, that's great! Thanks! But whilst I'm waiting for whomever to get round to actually signing it, I'll keep looking for the next one. And just as well I do too.

    You've got to build options because I'm fairly confident your slow-to-finalise client isn't going to pay you for hanging around waiting for them. None of my clients have ever paid me for the promised deal that never came. And quite often I've finished the new deal before that "promised deal" finally comes home to roost.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  4. #4
    Email problem RKS Computer Solutions's Avatar
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    Yup, Dave summed it up for the majority of situations, though I do recommend that you cover yourself for when the situation arise...

  5. #5
    Email problem stephanfx's Avatar
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    I don't have any clients yet, but I do hope to get some in the future soon.

    I haven't sent out quotes either but in my experience in the designing is to estimate the time required, and then add maybe a day or two, just in case my things do not work out as planned. I think that it is better to let the client think it will take long, and thus I appear ahead of schedule. Then again, there are those clients that come in without appointment and then I need to stop everything else just for them. Clients will be clients.

    Duncan, I don't really know how you work but I would suggest maybe quoting about 25% to 50% extra time needed for the project, should the other also come in, you could maybe do both. Maybe I am an numb-nut for suggesting it, but hey, that is what I do.

  6. #6
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKS Computer Solutions View Post
    If I may so bold as to suggest the following:
    Of course, that is the point Thanks for the tips.

    Quote Originally Posted by stephanfx View Post
    Duncan, I don't really know how you work but I would suggest maybe quoting about 25% to 50% extra time needed for the project, should the other also come in, you could maybe do both. Maybe I am an numb-nut for suggesting it, but hey, that is what I do.
    If you are a "numb-nut" then we all are - it's pretty normal to build slack time into projects. My business is pretty much electronic design and consulting (create better products, bla, bla, marketing schpiel goes here, etc.) Projects can be a couple of weeks, or a couple of years (not that I've had any of those yet though), but both of these are projects that will take around 3-4 months to complete (not actual hours worked, but just time for everything to come together).

    I try to build reasonable slack into my projects to allow for the inevitable delays (under promise over deliver, bla bla).

    Quote Originally Posted by stephanfx View Post
    I don't have any clients yet, but I do hope to get some in the future soon.
    So where does your money come from if you don't have clients?
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    Email problem stephanfx's Avatar
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    I registered my CC on the 17th of April, I am still employed, work from home, then when it can carry me, go in full time, so no clients as yet, though I do have some prospects inline

  8. #8
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Stephan, what exactly are you selling? I understand the concept on an online directory, but where is the money coming from? Advertising?
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  9. #9
    Email problem stephanfx's Avatar
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    yes, and featured listings, other than that I do website design and development, logo design, logo redraw, posters, business cards, anything with design basically, though I will admit that there are some things that I am not that good with

    SABD.co.za is a "project" to use as a profile site, as I hand coded the db and php. Just to say "I did that ".

    I am currently a graphic designer with a couple of government jobs (layout of books for Department of Health, Department of Education, Social Development to name a few) under my belt, but for the company where I work.

    I am just not getting the satisfaction that I think that I can get from my work at this company, thus I am starting my own part time web design and development company.

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