Why we say no to some projects

We have been taking on web design or development projects for over 15 years, and early on we were not very picky about what projects we tackled or which clients we would work with. More recently, with an increasing number of incoming leads and constraints on our time for handling the sales process, we have implemented a process to try and filter out clients and projects that may not be a good fit for us. We hope to build relationships with clients that can last through our first project and for years into the future, and it all starts with trust, communication, shared goals, and a passion for our respective roles.

It can be really easy to say no to some projects, and a lot of the time it’s the client who says no for a variety of reasons, which we may cover in another blog post. For now, let’s dive into some of the reasons we turn down projects and how we attempt to find great clients to work with.

The client needs work done that isn’t in our sweet spot

Our service offering here at Kuztek is likely still a lot broader and versatile than a company our small size should have, but we love working with WordPress plugins, building Laravel web apps, and creating great JavaScript interactive experiences so we haven’t limited ourselves to just one of those areas …yet.

Last year we did some work on a few HubSpot sites but we have also turned down other HubSpot work because using the HubSpot tools for editing code and managing content just doesn’t fit our ideal workflow. We may do some small JavaScript projects on HubSpot but building out HubSpot themes or setting up content for them just isn’t us. We regularly get asked if we would take on Drupal projects and a few weeks ago we turned down work with a ShopSite store. Spending our time figuring out apps or programs we have little experience with when there are many other developers more knowledgable in these areas just doesn't seem like the best use of our client's money. It has become pretty clear to us where we bring the most value and expertise so we try to stick to projects related to the tech we use every day and are very familiar with.

It would be pretty easy for us to take on a steady flow of WordPress theming projects for marketing agencies that we have built relationships with, but creating custom WordPress themes is a very busy space and doesn’t give us many opportunities to grow our development skills. Adding advanced functionality to WordPress sites to connect to an API, building a new report, modifying some e-commerce functionality, or customizing a Gravity Form is work that we are more passionate about and allows us to write code that clients really appreciate and value.

The client doesn’t have the budget

It happens quite often that we provide a potential client with a quote for their project or a minimum charge to get started in fixing their problem and they reply telling us that they don’t have the budget required or ask us if we can lower our rates and work together. A few times we have decided there was enough upside, for example if we really believe in the company or organization (or the work could be done quite quickly), that we took on the project even when the client couldn’t meet our budget requirements, but the rest of the time we reply with an apology that our rates aren’t going to budge.

We don’t have the time to do the project when the client needs it done

“I need this done ASAP”. I’m sure you’re familiar with urgent requests and sometimes we are able to fit those into our workload, but quite often it doesn’t make sense to take on a new project that will disrupt the projects already on the go. Potential clients hopefully have a respect for building the relationship over time and can appreciate that we may be busy giving another client our full attention for a time period. Sometimes a project isn’t as urgent as the client initially thought, or maybe we can break it into spread out phases, or maybe they can wait because they really want to work with us and know that we will do a great job. It is okay to say no to a new project and keep your evenings and weekends free to spend time with your family, your hobby, or your canine friends.

The communication isn’t there

Often we get leads for Gravity Forms development or WP All Import modifications through the recommended developer lists of those respective plugin’s websites. Many of those leads come from countries outside of North America (where most of our clients are now) and for a lot of them English is not their primary language. Having open and clear lines of communication is pretty vital to a great relationship with the client so if our first few emails discussing the project are hitting communication snags then chances are the relationship is not going to go very far.

The client won’t meet other terms

We like to get paid on time and regularly. As a small company we can’t afford to take on projects that would leave waiting a month or more to get paid for the work we have done. Some potential clients don’t have the ability to pay our invoices promptly or to use the payment methods we prefer, due to their existing processes or other limitations, so the project negotiations hit a wall and goes no further. Before starting work with a new client we send the client a standard work agreement that outlines our relationship, expectations, and responsibilities. If the client won’t come to an agreement with our very amicable terms we have to say goodbye.

The project isn’t something we can get behind or we feel comfortable working on

Some clients could be selling something we may never buy ourselves or that we think isn’t worth what they are charging, but we would still be willing to work with the client to help them sell their product and increase sales.

It may sound silly to say but we aren’t going to build a website promoting criminal activity, pornography, or other things that we believe may ruin peoples lives. We have had potential clients give us flak for refusing to work on their project, but thankfully we have the freedom to decide what projects fit our business and the type of clients we want to build relationships with.

The client doesn’t seem to be serious or they don’t respect us

We take our company seriously and want to continue to grow Kuztek on a stable and steady path so when a client comes along who doesn’t treat the work and relationship with the dignity it deserves we step away from the negotiating table. It is hard to get over a client who doesn’t respect us, our skillset, or our process.

In return for receiving respect and a professional approach to business from our clients we do our best to give them the respect and professionalism that they deserve; it goes both ways. As the relationship with a client grows and we learn how to communicate and trust one another we do have fun and sometimes things can be more casual, but if the relationship starts out too casual it is usually a sign that the project or relationship is not going to succeed in the long run.

We love building relationships

Helping businesses and individuals succeed through web design and development is something we really care about, and it is so important to maintain great relationships with potential, current, and past clients as much as possible. Putting these systems, standards, and filters in place helps us make sure that we are working with clients and projects that can be successful and make our day-to-day enjoyable.