Managing Budgets & Expectations

This post was inspired by a recent client relationship and I thought it was a very important learning opportunity to share. Notice how I said opportunity? That’s a really significant distinction to make than just saying “a lesson.” A lesson is something you learn. Period. An opportunity, however, is a learning experience that lends itself to more learning, because you’ve now gained that experience and can apply it to the next situation.

But I digress…

So in this most recent client learning opportunity, what transpired was really just mismanaged expectations. And as the purveyors of a specific service, we totally own that. It’s our job to make sure the client understands what they are getting and what they are not getting.

Case in point: A client comes to you and tells you what they want. You quote them your rate for that service. They say, ‘I’m sorry but my budget only allows me for X amount of dollars, what can you do for me with that?’ So the solution is one of two things: either you tell them you’re sorry and it’s not going to work out, or you adjust your rates and your services and work together to accommodate the allotted budget.

The latter is what we decided to do because for lack of better judgment, the client was a referral and how does the saying go, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” I never understood why horses would hand out gifts, but hay!

And so, what came to pass was a client who still had their mindset on all of the services they originally wanted, without the consciousness that because their budget was smaller, the services would be at a lesser capacity.

An important thing to note in this story is that there is a big difference between turning out inadequate work vs. handing in quality work at a level that matches the budget. For example, let’s say you are looking to remodel your bathroom. And you’ve found the most amazing tiles in a vast array of color options and textures, with a lifetime guarantee to boot. But yikes, the price tag is just not something in your budget. So you start trying to figure out how to best allocate your budget. You NEED these tiles in your life. So, you decide to rework the design, maybe only using half the amount of tiles for one wall. Accent walls are in, right? Oh shoot, that’s still going to set you back more than you wanted. ?. Maybe you’ll opt for simple white paint instead of that pricier metallic one, for the other walls. And maybe you’ll leave the fixtures you already have. After all, they still spark joy but could use just a little touch-up paint.

Woohoo! You stayed within your budget and were able to secure at least part of that winning tile you’ve been dreaming of, by adjusting and minimizing the rest. You could have cheaped out and gone to Ikea and then had your “wow” moment, but the quality behind that facade, for that price, would not have been worth it in the end.

And so, the main take away when working with clients that have big hopes and dreams but smaller than desired budgets, is making sure they equally understand what they are getting, and what they are not getting.

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