Who would not like to work in an environment where money was no object? To have a project or proposal that is well-funded and supported is the dream of many working people. The reality, however, is that more often than not, we have to work within the constraints of a budget–whether it is our own working budget or one imposed on us by another party. When it is the clients or customers who have a very limited budget, the challenge is to provide a good product or service, meet deadlines and offer great customer service–regardless of what the compensation will be.
It is important to clarify the budget details in advance. This means that clear communication needs to occur and the compensation and expense details need to be hammered out in the contract negotiations. When the budget is tight, it is key to avoid surprise expenses whenever possible. Chances are, a client with a limited budget will not be able to absorb much (if any) additional expenses and you may get stuck with them if things are not well-managed. It is important to discuss any possible variations and make a plan for how to best to spend a limited budget to get the greatest value. When and if additional expenses arise, be sure to discuss them with the client and get the agreement in writing for how things will be dealt with and paid prior to proceeding.
Instead of providing “less” for those clients on a limited budget, consider how you can condense the work or break it into affordable pieces. Perhaps they can pay for and receive part of the work now and part of it later. This way you can still provide an excellent product and services but take their payment realities into account. It may also be possible to condense and prioritize the work so that the client pays for the most important elements.
Additionally, there may be ways that the client can do some of the work themselves to cut down on expenses. For example, if you operate an event or banquet facility and rent chairs and tables as part of the “package,” what if the client sets up and puts away the tables and chairs instead of paying your staff to do it? Are there ways that the client can help cut costs or make things more affordable by taking on some of the work or preparation? Can the client do some of the research or data entry or some other element of the project that keep the project within their budget constraints?
Try not to differentiate between those clients who have deep pockets and those who don’t. It make take more creativity and flexibility to meet the needs of clients on a limited budget but they can still be valuable clients, provide important referrals and help to sustain your business.