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When to say no to some work?

Discussion in 'Web Design Forum' started by badlyDrawnToy, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. badlyDrawnToy

    badlyDrawnToy New Member

    Hi. Just getting going as a freelance web developer, but I'm quite experienced.. been contracting for years. I quoted for an e-commerce solution, and the prospect has come back saying I'm about twice the price that he wanted to pay.

    His site currently turns over £10k/yr by people phoning through orders
    He wants credit card and paypal integration
    He seems to think that, as he already has a site, most of the work is done! The site is pretty poor - product lists loading in frames and product details in pop-up windows.

    I quoted to include all legals - privacy T&Cs etc, improvement to existing design, e-commerce integration.

    I quoted £2,400 + hosting. He wants to pay £1,200.

    He claims to have a quote for £1,200. I don't do OS-Commerce installs or similar. They're over-complex and buggy.

    So. Do I walk away? I could do with the work, though I have other prospects. It will never be a site I really want to add to my portfolio as the look and feel is pretty bad and he doesn't want a complete redesign.

    I could probably go in cheaper, but not as low as he wants. I could remove PayPal, and perhaps SSL certificates (credit cards are input over SSL on payment provider site - but contact email address should really be sent secured).

    Maybe I should steer clear of small businesses. I get the impression they never want to pay much.

    Thoughts? Experiences? Am I over expensive?
  2. MickeyFinn

    MickeyFinn Administrator

    Hey Howie,

    Your price is really not bad at all! Especially with SSL and PayPal integration. If he is getting a cheaper quote I would get your client to ask the other provider if they are using bespoke system or if they are using ZenCart or OSCommerce. I expect it will be one of these is a cheap job and if this is the case ask them if the other person's quote includes the regular updates needed to keep the software patched or cleaning up all the mess if they get hacked :D

    Some small businesses do want the moon on a stick and if they are quibbling like this I personally would walk (possibly even run!) as once they are full clients they become real pains.

    With a turnover of £10k they really are small fry. There are bigger fish out there, it is just a case of catching them.


  3. badlyDrawnToy

    badlyDrawnToy New Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I think I just needed others to confirm what I thought. I actually spent a fair amount of time writing a proposal, in which I did a site critique, explained what needed to change, what the legals were and what work was involved. I come from an IT banking background and am wondering if I was too professional and scared him off. But then again, maybe I should be after the bigger fish, who would expect such a proposal.

    To be honest, I don't think he read the proposal; just looked at the quote.

    I like your point about the regular updates etc.

    Yes, I expected it to be too much, and yes, I expected to haggle. I'll give it another shot. But I keep hearing the same thing... beware small business.

    I've got some work on at the moment, and other quotes out there. So maybe I should chill a bit. It's business!

    Thanks again for your thoughts. Much appreciated.
  4. MickeyFinn

    MickeyFinn Administrator

    I fell into the same trap with small businesses. A glance at the proposal and ten minutes with furrowed brow staring at the amount quoted!

    It is not necessarily small businesses, just the business owner. I think you get a feel for a while as to what people are like and are prepared to pay. I usually quote a ball park figure verbally and you can tell if face to face or if the phone goes silent that you might be too much. If that is the case, a quick quote and make the price toppy as you know if they go for it they will be a pain in the rear!

    There is enough work out there and once you have a few good clients they will recommend you and their recommendations are likely to be good spenders too.

    Avoid those that want it all for nothing, they will ruin your business! It feels good to turn these people down too - give it a go ;)
  5. Lupita

    Lupita Member

    Agree with Mickey Bdt; some sound advice! Sounds reasonable to me.

    But come on chaps! Let's not knock small businesses, after all, what are we as freelancers!? The UK's 4m odd small businesses are the engine room of the economy! ( I'm not a gov. minister btw :D ) How do large succcesful businesses start life, when they're not vc-backed/MBOs?

    Saying that it's totally right to be wary about your btm line chaps, but, as Mickey said, it's about the owner of the firm, less the size of their business.

    All owners will have budgets, so surely it's just a case of negotiating something that's acceptable to both? But of course, as micro businesses - and seemingly, not social micro businesses - you have to be extra wary about clients knocking down the price of your services!! :eek:

    Good luck BDT; report back on what happens!
  6. badlyDrawnToy

    badlyDrawnToy New Member

    Hi Lupita

    Interesting point about knocking small business. I posted my question to a number of forums and the response was the same - expect to bargain a bit, but don't stick to your guns, and that small business are a pain to deal with.

    I'm doing some work for an agency at the moment. They tell me that they don't deal with small business, and that they when they do brochure/static web sites, they charge a minimum of £3,500 (and their web designer is less than average!). I wish I could charge that much. It seems that bigger business pay more and expect less.

    And this has a knock-on effect. I'm beginning to align myself with marketing and PR agencies who are increasingly outsourcing work to freelancers. They appreciate the value/hourly rate of creatives, designers etc. and can afford to pay well for a good service.

    I'm all for supporting small business. I'm creating a good network of contacts on a similar forum for small business (www.newbusinessportal.co.uk). I think that small business owners fall into two categories - those that understand and exploit the internet/online marketing etc. and those that don't. The latter are hard to work with.

    The guy I was quoting for never read my proposal. He is convinced that his current site provides half the solution for his e-commerce requirements, and has already decided what price he is willing to pay. I re-quoted, but I'm not chasing. I never met the guy. I made a few calls, and spent too much time writing a proposal.

    I think the only way to service this sort of customer is to provide an out-of-the-box solution. Small profit, high volume. These sort of e-commerce solutions are on offer form BT for £20/month. Perhaps I need to start offering something like this. But this takes time to develop.

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