Sometimes it’s a bit tricky being absolutely honest with clients… after all, they pay the bills.
But sometimes you just have to be. Honest, I mean.
It’s a lesson I’m being reminded of at the moment. We recently won a new client to do some consultancy work, followed up with franchise recruitment. Great! Superb client, well capitalised and with a particular plan.
They, effectively, wasn’t to hand over the running of their franchise project to us, which is brilliant. The only fly in the ointment is that they have some pretty tight timescales in mind and we need to get a move on the achieve them.
Not really an issue for us. We’re used to tight timelines and can be as flexible as the next business.
The problem is, our project plan is dependent on certain levels of input from the franchisor. If they miss a deadline, then we do, too.
And they have missed a couple.
The first one, I let go.
Mistake number 1! Because I wasn’t honest with the franchisor they felt as though they had carte blanche to do it again. And, guess what, they did.
So far, we’ve not missed a deadline as a result of the franchisor missing theirs; but we have had to scramble to make the target.
Mistake number 2! Now the franchisor thinks they can be really lax and we’ll take up the slack by busting our buns… which, in actual fact, is absolutely true.
So, what should we have done?
Firstly, I should have been much more robust in the early days, laying out exactly what our responsibilities are and what theirs are, too. I should have also explained the consequences of them missing their dates. I.E. the whole project slips, not me scrambling.
Then, when they did miss a deadline, I should have reminded them of the first plan, explained that they missed a deadline and that, if it happened again, the whole project was going to slip.
But it’s hard… very hard. After all, every business needs clients.
But when you think about it logically, what’s the worst that can happen if you are robust?
You could lose the client… but is that such a bad thing?
I bet that, if you analyse it, because you are busy scrambling to take up the slack caused by them not hitting their deadlines, you’re probably missing other opportunities or even deadlines for other clients.
I bet you’ve under charged them what you’re doing, too. I know I have.