If you’re here, I’m guessing you’ve discovered your Designer has charged you late fees and you’re wondering why.
How the Design industry runs can be very different to your own business or industry, late fees aren’t designed as a punishment, so get that misconception out of your head right now. I promise we’re not being meanies!
When booking a project with a Designer, you expect them to be at the top of their game and dedicated to your project. Well, we also expect the same from you as a client – it’s where the magic in a beautiful collaboration lies. Sticking to our deadline dates is also a nice way of showing we value & respect each others time along with the work we’re both putting into the project.
However, one element of being a Designer you don’t likely see is the impact clients being late has. With content. With feedback. With everything. Let me walk you through why your Designer is charging late fees…
Deadlines are crucial for the design industry, they help the moment of a project flow smoothly and from a schedule management perspective they allow us to manage multiple clients and bookings.
Late fees serve as a mechanism for accountability. When you agree to a project timeline and sign a contract, you’re committing to delivering necessary materials, feedback, or approvals within specified periods.
Without some form of accountability, you might be less motivated to meet these deadlines, which can lead to project delays and, ultimately, frustration on both sides. Late fees make it clear that timely cooperation is expected from both of us.
Remember, how your Designer runs their business can be very different to how you run yours. And that’s fine, so please be respectful of their choices, processes and requests. They are in place for a reason!
Two: Fair & balanced schedule management
Unless you’ve hired your Designer on an exclusivity term, your Designer is working with multiple clients at any given time. Just like you are likely managing different clients and customers at any given time, even those email replies take up a big chunk of our day huh?
This doesn’t mean they aren’t dedicating time and love to your brand, far from it, but it does mean we have to carefully plan our schedule to avoid overwhelm, burnout and delays to other client projects.
When one client misses a deadline, it has a domino effect on on three things I, personally, consider very important:
1. The level of service we’re able to provide
A Designer running on little sleep, being overworked and generally tackling an overbooked schedule isn’t going to give you the experience and service you deserve.
Nor is it going to have a great result on the work we produce for you.
It’s also not fair on you if you’ve been meeting your deadlines to be working with a Designer whose a hot mess because of other clients.
2. Our Schedule
I’m a one woman band so my diary is a very carefully run tight ship. Which means if you’re late, it impacts my schedule and every other client in the queue.
Whether that’s having to slot in work at night/weekend or having to push a project back, it has a knock on effect regardless.
And again, if you’re on time, why should your project be put on hold because someone else was late?
3. Our well being
Those extra hours, that anxiety of letting another client and our families down on top of the stress of trying to fit in work all impact our well being.
Without our mental & physical health intact, we don’t have a business.
When a project falls behind schedule due to a client’s delay, it often means additional hours of work for the designer and results in us loosing out on further income to reschedule your project. This extra time and effort should be compensated fairly, and late fees can help cover these costs. It’s a way for designers to receive compensation for the additional work required to accommodate the extended project timeline, ensuring that their efforts are adequately valued.
Helping your stay accountable
For my own clients, I am always super upfront on the time I suggest they dedicate to their project. On average, my clients dedicate up to three months for the prep work and a further two-three months for the project itself. That sounds like a crazy amount of time but remember your project needs to include feedback time and development – it will fly by!
Here a few tips I share with my own clients to help you keep accountable to your brand or website project timeframe:
1. Use a digital calendar + set up alerts
If you’re not already using a digital calendar, now is the time!
Both iCal and Google Calendar allow you to set up individual calendars. Set one up for your project and add your deadlines with regular reminders to them.
Reminders can come in the form of notifications, emails and even texts.
2. Break everything up into manageable chunks
One day at a time
Don’t tackle everything all at once, particularly for a website project.
3. Choose to book at a time right for you
Yes, you’re hiring us to do the work but there is work on your side too; from the initial homework to providing feedback. When thinking about booking a Designer, either choose a time in your schedule which you know will be quiet (for example, if your work is very seasonal) or block this time out of your own schedule to ensure you can focus.
Working on your business is just as important as working in.
In addition, I am a firm believer of holidays being holidays, particularly when you run a small business. Out of office on. To-do list left to collect dust. Cocktail in hand.
Which means, if you have any time away, don’t schedule a brand or website project in which will clash with this time. Honestly, there is nothing more heartbreaking than pouring your soul into a clients logo concepts only to receive their out of office for two weeks.
So there you go. A fair system to ensure we can provide you with only the best version of us and to ensure that we are not only respected but compensated if there are delays on your side.