One of the hard truths of business is that you are paid and evaluated on your results, not your effort—a fact that occasionally makes “knocking it out of the park” with pricing feel unattainable. (And job satisfaction, less than desirable.)
Particularly for businesses that specialize in custom services (raising my hand; are you as well?), establishing concrete pricing is difficult. No matter how similar a job or initiative might be, nailing down the perfect formula for calculating “hours in” to monies received can feel very elusive. And the rub, as I reminded my business partner the other day during one of those philosophical business conversations, is that regardless of what the hours add up to, success is most often measured by outcome, not effort. (Especially true when budgets are tighter than all parties prefer.)
This value (or lack of) perception can make it difficult to maintain even-footing with customers/clients—unless you take a proactive approach.
The easiest way to go about this, is to create a checklist of sub-goals, all that directly correlate to, and that put you one step closer toward, achieving the larger goals. And, that are reasonable to the amount being charged, as explained by you, to the customer/client in advance so that expectations can be reigned in. THIS is a major mistake I can admit to having made in the past. I am a “yes” person, but I have learned the hard way, that if you promise you’ll do anything it takes, you will be measured on just that.
The other piece of information you need to clarify, depending upon your industry, are the sub-goals and goals that are dependent upon the actions of others (in my case, media is one example). You can’t control this, but you can be held accountable for the things that you did not do to move the ball forward.
Reporting is also important, because if a client can’t enjoy the satisfaction of big goals coming to fruition fast enough, at least understanding where your time has gone and why/why not certain goals have been met demonstrates an appreciation for their financial investment and trust.
If you’re someone who is in constant contact with your client, it’s not always necessary to draft a formal report. Often a detailed email with bullet points is enough. Larger, more corporate-culture clients typically prefer scheduled reports and often a particular format. If you’ve done your homework, this is something you’ve had in place since signing a contract. Regardless of how it’s done, reporting can alleviate stress on both ends. They’re aware of what you’re up against and what you’ve accomplished, and you won’t be worried that they’re not seeing the whole picture.
Better yet, these tactics put you in a better position to negotiate a higher fee at resigning time. (One of YOUR goals, right?)
Customer satisfaction is what good business is all about: Better tracking and communication, and solid evaluation of what’s working and what’s not—backed up by quality recommendations on how to get closer to goals—will put you and your business in a positive light. In an instant gratification world, leaving clients hanging is a sure way to minimize growth and longevity. Step up and take accountability.