[thelist] Your opinion: managing clients who miss deadlines

Matt Warden mwarden at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 15:31:41 CDT 2011

On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 4:21 PM, Francis Marion <francis.marion at sfroy.com> wrote:
> Currently I and several managers in my company are experiencing issues where some clients don't deliver materials on time. When the project starts, we make agreements about delivery dates and so on, with the understanding that they'll deliver the goods (copy, images, logos, information, etc) when they say they will. Many, however deliver them past the agreed upon times, or, we have to hound them for materials, which irritates both parties.
> I'm soliciting ideas and opinions on how to deal with this kind of issue in a way that is respectful, flexible, but not a nuisance to us or our other clients, and that is similarly respectful to the client who is usually bang on, but has the rare stuff-happens lapse. In the future, we have the potential of adding some sort of clause to the contract, or at the very least some form of notice, but I'm not sure how to handle our long-time clients, or clients whose projects are already active.

If you don't have something laid out already, you are mostly SOL. You
could try communicating to them that you have other obligations
starting on [some reasonably far time in the future] and you just
wanted to let them know that, given current delays. But that could set
you up for having to stick to it or essentially admit you don't have
to stick to it, should they not heed your warning. If the issue is
that you are holding time on your calendar for this project, you could
simply act as if starting on [original end date] you will be free to
take other projects on, and deal with conflicts as they happen. There
aren't great options.

In the future, you might consider setting a payment schedule based on
the planned project timeline. That way, if they want to delay, it
doesn't really matter. This is my preferred option, but you have to be
careful about how you set up collection of those payments.

Protecting yourself with a clause like "We expect stuff from you in a
timely manner" is next to useless.

Matt Warden

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