Ah, clients. We love them, we respect them. Sometimes we want to throttle them. But that's not exactly a good client relations policy for your agency.
Are you ready to hit send on that snarky client email? Think again!
One of the most useful tools for dealing with client situations – especially difficult ones – is to create a series of standard email templates for the different aspects of a project. This ensures that when something comes up, you can always maintain your professional face, and won't say something you'll later regret.
Here are 5 short-n-sweet client relations templates for some common situations:
1. When the Cost of Final Project Is Significantly Higher Than Initial Estimate
You know the drill: You've given the client a rough estimate, and they've said that sounds great, and come in to your office for an initial meeting for further define the scope of the project. It's at that meeting you discover the project is significantly larger than the client let on. How do you let the client know the project is going to cost significantly more than you estimated?
Dear Demanding Client
Thank you for the meeting on Wednesday. With the information you provided we've been able to create a detailed brief of your job and how best we can help you achieve your goals.
The plan is attached for your consideration, along with a quote for the final fee.
I'm aware the quoted amount ($10,780) is above our original estimate. At the time of the estimate, we didn't have all the details for your project. This quote is of full project fee and the final price – you won't get a nasty surprise when the bill comes!
We appreciate your feedback on the brief, and if there are any amendments to be made, please let us know. We look forward to working with you!
One Frazzled Account Manager
2. When The Client Wants to Make Changes Above and Beyond the Scope of Your Original Contract
Scope creep in large projects is practically a given, and many agencies will accommodate it in their pricing structure. If, however, the client is getting too ambitious with what they consider part of the job, you may need to let them know that additional charges will occur.
Dear Badgering Client
Thanks for sending through the new requirements / amendments on the project – we're definitely happy to provide a business card template in addition to the brochure design work.
Just to let you know, this additional work is not covered by your contact, and will add a final $870 to your bill. The revised quote is attached, taking into account new timeframes and fees for the project.
Let me know if you're happy with this, and then we can proceed.
One Overworked Graphic Designer
3. When Payment is Overdue
Most agencies hope they don't have to send these emails often. It's never nice to have to chase up your fee, but unfortunately, it's often necessary as emails are deleted, clients get distracted, and accounts departments go on holiday. Here's a simple reminder template to ensure your payment arrives when it should:
Dear Non-Paying Cheapskate Client
I hope you're having a lovely week! I'm just letting you know that I haven't received payment of $3280.50 for invoice 00846 in my account yet. As stated on the invoice, payment is due seven days after receipt of invoice, or a late fee will apply. I know it's easy to forget these things, so let me know when the money has been sent though.
Starving Account Manager
4. When a Payment is Really, REALLY Overdue
And, sometimes, you get a true non-paying client. The kind who will try to get out of paying the bill by any means necessary. For them, a different approach is needed.
Dear Lowlife Scumbag Non-Paying Client
On 4 October I sent you an invoice for services rendered. The invoice number was INV-02733 and the total amount was $8922.00.
I am still yet to receive payment for this project, nor a reply to my previous email. According to my payment terms, a late payment penalty now applies, making the new total: $9134.00
Please send payment immediately, or contact us if you are having difficulties and we will happily work on a solution together. We'll contact you to follow up if we haven't received payment by 9 December.
One Broke-and-Living-in-the-Gutter Web Developer.
5. When You Need to Terminate a Contract
Many agencies will stay open for 50+ years without ever having to terminate a contract. It's a sad state of affairs and not one any agency leader wants to find themselves in. But sometimes, ceasing work with a client is the only option.
A contract termination can come about because of any number of scenarios: The ethics of the client or the project are called into question, the client has become impossible to work with, the client has violent outbursts in your office, the client is lovely but clearly stark-raving-mad. How you word your letter and under what circumstances you can send it depend on your contract's termination clause (you do have one, right?) but here is a good general letter:
Dear Impossible Client
We'd like to thank you for choosing The Best Design Agency for your project. Unfortunately, we feel at this time that we aren't the right agency for your needs, and will be terminating our contract, effective immediately, as per clause 11b in our agreement.
Please note that this is not a reflection on you personally. We simply feel that another agency would be better suited to meet the requirements of your brief.
One Aggravated (or Terrified) Agency Manager
These are some typical client situations where having email templates is a great idea. The templates enable you to send professional correspondence in difficult situations, when you might otherwise want to curse your client to a fiery death.
What other situations would you need a template for? We'd be happy to make some more up in a future blog post!