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Article Contributed by Elizabeth Lee

We’ve all been there. Either we bite off a lot more than we can chew, or life gets in the way. This is especially true for freelancers who have to make their own schedules and don’t have anyone to delegate the work to when things get busy. At one point or another, everyone will miss a deadline, or at least come terrifyingly close. What matters is knowing what to do in those situations. There’s a smart way to handle everything – and it’s possible to do it without losing the client.

When The Outlook is Bad

The best time to get in touch with your client is before you’ve actually missed the deadline. If you have ten days of work to do and three days to do it in, chances are slim that a miracle is going to swoop in and save you. You should still try your best to meet the deadline, but you should also have a realistic estimate on when your client can actually expect the completed work.

Let them know how far along you are in the process, and be honest about what happened. If you have a good relationship with the client and you don’t have a history of missing deadlines, they’ll understand. Workloads get heavy sometimes. Give a brief explanation.

When The Deadline Is Now

If you knew you weren’t going to make the deadline, you probably should have said something before this moment. If time slipped away from you, be forward about it. Tell the client that you understand that you missed the deadline, provide them with a timeline they can use to determine when you’ll have the work completed.

Offer to send what you’ve finished so far, if that’s possible. Allow them to look over the completed portion of the project while you’re finishing up the rest. They’ll be able to see at least some representation of what you’re working on, and by letting them in on the process, they’re less likely to feel left in the dark. Keep giving them daily updates with some notes about what you’ve done until the project is completed. Communication is important at this time – it’s your saving grace.

When The Deadline Passed a While Ago

You messed up pretty badly. If the deadline came and went and you haven’t talked to your client, that one is completely your fault. Unless something serious, such as a major emergency happened, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have informed your client.

If it was a major emergency, provide as much detail as you’re comfortable with. If you suffered something like a house fire or a major illness, your client may understand – especially if you already had a great working relationship before that.  Never lie about a disaster – if the client finds out, word will travel fast.

If you’ve already missed the deadline by a lot and you still have a lot of work to do, refund the client. Don’t ask if they want a refund – automatically refund them. Then, ask them whether or not they would still like you to complete the work (yes, for free.) If they don’t, that’s alright. The way you handle a client you’ve drastically messed up with can determine your fate as a professional. If you don’t accept full responsibility and volunteer to go above and beyond to make things right, you risk your entire reputation.

Author’s Bio:

Elizabeth Lee is an avid business blogger from Sydney, Australia, writing on behalf of PACK & SEND. Elizabeth is experienced in customer relations, marketing and logistics, and is often found sharing her tips with other professionals. Follow Elizabeth on @LElizabethLee86


 
 
 

 
 

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