Are revision requests crushing your soul? So many designers feel shattered when the requests come pouring in and don’t seem to stop.
My client Rebecca has been in business for over 10 years, she’s booked solid for six months on a regular basis, has dozens of outstanding reviews and is considered an expert in her niche.
She’s barely making enough money to pay her VA. She’s not taking a regular paycheque and she has been contemplating packing it in.
It took a lot of digging around to figure out why she’s not making money. The moment I asked about her revision policies was a light bulb moment.
Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned veteran, revisions can feel like a personal attack against our creativity.
Instead of taking it personally, look at what it’s telling you about your business.
WHAT REVISION REQUESTS CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR DESIGN BUSINESS
1. HOW MANY ROUNDS OF REVISIONS DO YOU ALLOW?
PROBLEM – Clients are asking for endless revisions. If you’ve ever experienced this ongoing series of revision requests you’ll resonate with the expression “death by a thousand tiny cuts”.
Your first priority is making sure your clients are happy. After all, it’s their home. However, if you’re taking control of your business you can’t work on endless revisions because it cuts into your profit as well as your timelines.
Rebecca recently quoted a price of $10k for a design. Her profit margin was set to be high on this project BUT her clients had revision requests.
She guessed there were 15 revision requests made!! She actually couldn’t tell me the exact number because she had stopped counting.
They started with a typical round of revisions but after that it was one request at a time. Even though they were small but they were costing her time, money and energy.
SOLUTION – Your contract should allow for no more than 3 rounds of revisions. Make sure your clients knows that anything beyond that is charged at an hourly rate. This means they still get the home they want but you get compensated for the additional time. It also stops indecision and encourages decisions to be made. Clients are less likely to ask for the 15th revision if they’re paying by the hour.
2. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU ALLOW?
PROBLEM – Revision requests are adding weeks or months to your project timeline. This means you might be in the middle of a project that should be ending while a new one is beginning.
If you’re operating with a waitlist you need to be working on a tight timeline with each project. You should be mapping out when each one begins and ends.
Revision requests need to be timed and mapped in the same way as the design. There has to be a time limit within which revisions are complete.
In Rebecca’s case my suggestion was that for larger renovations she limit revisions to 2-3 rounds and all revisions need to be approved within 3 weeks.
SOLUTION – Every project needs to have revision stipulations written into the contract. They should include both the number of rounds before an hourly rate applies as well as a time parameter. Whether the request is for one revision or the entire design to be revised, you need to get it all done as opposed to dragging it out for months.
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3. DOES YOUR ONBOARDING INCLUDE REVISION CONVERSATIONS?
PROBLEM – Your clients don’t understand how revision requests are impacting your business. They don’t know that it’s wrong to ask for a 5th, 6th or 20th round because there was no mention made during your onboarding phase.
It’s your responsibility as a business owner to have this discussion at the beginning of the project. Refer to your contract and make sure your clients understand what you’re outlining and why.
This will also help improve working conditions overall because when you assume the clients know something, resentment starts to build. Whether they understand the impact to your business or not will be irrelevant with terms that are clearly outlined.
SOLUTION – Make it a practice to outline the revision policies during your onboarding meeting. Leave no room for interpretation. Be clear and make 100% sure that they have heard you and understand the policy.
4. DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE ISSUES?
PROBLEM – you’re afraid your clients will push back if you set these boundaries around revisions.
For a lot of us who were raised as people pleasers it’s very uncomfortable to set limits or say no. If that feels familiar, this is probably an area of business you need to focus your attention.
Most clients also have careers and they understand reasonable requests and limits. There are going to be very few times when you set these parameters and they aren’t respected.
This could simply be a place for you to grow into the CEO of your business even if it feels a little uncomfortable.
SOLUTION – You can become more comfortable with these discussions by implementing systems around them. This turns them from difficult conversation to policy. There’s less room for negotiation when it’s a policy.
You can turn what has been an annoying and painful part of your business into a positive experience. Start by figuring out the ways that you can turn revision requests into a learning experience. It can boost your confidence as well as your bank account to learn to take control.
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