Today, I would like to continue my series on the lessons I have learned while working with clients from the first call through the execution of the event. As many of you know, it is not uncommon for a client to ask for an estimate before signing on. While I am a firm believer that every client has the right to be given a good idea of cost before signing a contract, experience has shown me that, unless done correctly, they could be a big waste of valuable time for the unsigned vendor.
Last month, I received a call from a prospective client who asked me to spend a day traveling and the next visiting their site (with my vendors) with the expectation that I would provide them with an estimate. I explained that I would love to fly out and meet them, see the site and discuss a range of pricing, but I would need to charge them my day rate, plus travel, being that we did not have a signed commitment.
I never heard from them again.
While many clients see an estimate as a statement declaring the “total final cost” of the event, those of us on the other side know this is not the case. There is almost always a range, and depending on the client’s affinity for changing their minds, we can wind up working many more hours than anticipated. As a designer, the only way I can give a precise estimate is to design an event, and doing this for one I have not been hired to do yet can be tricky in terms of the investment time it takes to do this.
I still feel badly about losing what had the potential of being a good job. It was a tough call, but I believe that the time of everyone involved–client and vendors alike– is valuable. While we all want to secure the next great job, I have learned that there is a fine line between being generous with your time and not respecting its value.
How do you feel about my decision not to spend my time and money to fly out and visit the site of the potential client? Do you feel these clients were asking for a lot without a commitment? What would you have done? How do you handle estimates?
Tomorrow: How to effectively write an estimate while respecting your time.
(Photo Courtesy of 360A Photography)