Hi, In preparation for better business management for 2013 I’m reviewing all my business processes and trying to improve them and help them function better. Currently when I get a proposal from a prospective client I will create an approximate quote with a breakdown each segment of my business (research, concepts, CAD etc) If quote is accepted I will create an invoice and get a 50% deposit up front to begin the job. (often varies by client) And then 50% upon completion. A few of my concerns I would love some feedback on:

  • Determining when/how the job ends? (Files sent to manufacturer? and then billed hourly after this?)
  • Benchmarking (how are people defining stages?)
  • Deviation from quotes ( after x amount of hours do you let your client know, and is this stipulated in the original invoice)
  • Hourly vs phase sum (been thinking phase sums might be easier to quantify versus hourly approximations)


The greatest sentence ever in a proposal is “Any change in scope will affect cost and timing.”

Your proposal should always be very specific about what you are doing and what are the deliverables. Research is this many respondants and a report, concept generation will have x number presented to a specific group, CAD will be in this format, etc.

If the client makes a change, it is up to you to lay out the corresponding change in cost and timing. If there is a reduction, you bet your bottom dollar the client will take the discount. If there is an increase, you have every right to add onto your quote. But if the changes are “small” or if it is a long-term client, you have to use your judgement if you want to charge them or not. Either way, it is only to your advantage to clearly communicate their change and what will happen because of the change.

Where it can get ugly is if you omitted something in the proposal that could/should have been in there. That is a judgement call depending on your relationship with the client. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules to apply in that situation.

Bottom line, the more rock-solid the proposal, the less of a pissing match when there is a “change”.

For your other questions, you define the end of a phase in your proposal. And I always quoted a phase cost, never an hourly.

Thanks so much for the quick response. You make some really good points. Will definitely be adding you sentence in my future documents