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Interesting. I think those are good indicators. As I read through them I noticed things that I used to do early in my practice (not take money up front, discount my fee without reducing the extent of the services, etc) thinking I had to do it because I had less business. I don't do any of those things anymore and not one person has said “You want your money up front? No way, I'm not hiring you.” I've even had a few who pay more than the requested deposit, or call and say “shouldn't I be refilling my retainer soon?”
I think the best predictors of getting stiffed are: not setting clear expectations up-front; not pricing up-front; and not using change orders when scope of work exceeds the fixed price.
Clients only never pay for two reasons: they are unable or unwilling. If the former, you've made a bad customer selection issue (short of some catastrophe happening during the engagement). If the latter, it is because we have not met the client's expectation. This is usually done because they were “surprised” when they saw an invoice.
Fixed prices solve the latter problem. Indeed, they are the only thing that does.
I’m where you were, Leanna. I am now going through a re-vamping phase to change my habits and am hoping to get the results you have. Thanks for the inspiration, sounds like I’m on the right track. It’s okay to say no and work only for money already in the bank-advance fees and costs.
One of the best lines to get a client to stop arguing about the retainer is “If I can’t look out for my own interests, what makes you think I’ll look after yours’.”
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