Could you just…?
Three little words that I often used as a client to my agency, thinking nothing of it, but which now that I’m on the other side of the fence, so to speak, can fill my heart with dread. It’s not that we don’t want to help resolve issues or go the extra mile – but sometimes it’s just not possible within the scope of the budget. We are a service that is charged out predominately on time spent, be that creativity, thinking, planning, researching, artworking, designing, analysing and that’s just how we have to charge – by the hour (so to speak!). However it’s wrapped up costs are based on man (or woman) hours, so sometimes we have to ask for more.
Of course we put forward proposals and estimated budgets, within which there are set numbers of hours for different people, an Account Manager, a Designer, an Artworker, etc. and once those hours are used up then we need to charge more. This doesn’t always go down well with the client, they want the work that was proposed at no extra cost, but it’s not always straightforward to anticipate exactly how long it’s going to take before actually embarking on the work. It’s because projects can evolve, grow bigger, become more complex than originally expected by client and agency (we are in this together!).
On the plus side, sometimes it takes a shorter time – in which case we’re in that enviable position of going back to the client to say we have extra time allocated, how do you want to use it? Would you like something extra or a reduction on the invoice! Yay, great news all round! But at other times we need to say ‘no’ – not really in our nature as we are a service provider, but unfortunately necessary. Of course, we’re not really saying ‘no’, we are saying ‘yes, of course, but we will have to charge you £x for doing this extra work’. As an agency, we always want to maintain a positive relationship with our clients, and for this reason we try to be as accommodating as possible – within reason.
Everyone in an agency is accountable for their time – where it’s spent, on which project and for which client. If our hours go over, we need to explain ourselves – and saying my client said “could I just …” and I just did, doesn’t cut it with the Financial Controller!
NB: the angry baby is not our actual Financial Controller.