Re: A Contractor's Question

Subject: Re: A Contractor's Question
From: Linda Castellani <castle -at- CRL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 1997 11:26:50 -0800

Oh dear. So far, I've been listening quietly to the responses
from folks about my question, but I have to respond to this one.

David writes, in response to Jean Weber's extremely sensible description
of how she handles clients and timeliness:

> Does this make anyone else uneasy? Jean goes on to describe some
> techniques that seem to me to border on unfair practice. While I
> agree that many clients are habitually late, is it fair to withhold
> needed services that they expect (on their own timetable, granted)?

David, I think you may be interpreting Jean's message as saying that
she withholds services, but it's not what I hear her saying, maybe
because I've been there. If the client finally gets his act together,
late, and you've taken another job in the meantime, the client has to
understand how his lateness impacts the schedule. Do you think the
contractor should drop the work of the client who *did* come through to
take on the work of the one who failed to come through on time?

> And the overbooking of work reminds me of the practice airlines
> use of overbooking, then bumping passengers when things get sticky.
> The client thinks they are buying service from contractor A, while
> contractor A has overbooked and shunted the work to contractor B,
> whom the client has never had the opportunity to consider.
>
As far as overbooking goes, the scenario is something like this:

contractor gets an inquiry about their availability and possibly about
their familiarity with a subject or software tool - this inquiry can be
from the client directly, but is usually from a recruiter (in my
experience)
contractor responds with dates they are available
then, either that's as far as it goes, or they might be requested to
send a writing sample, come in for an interview, come in and bid on a
project
then, either that's as far as it goes, or they actually have the bid
accepted, or the client likes them and wants to work with them
then, either that's as far as it goes, or the client actually mentions a
start date
then, either that's as far as it goes, or the client begins to submit info
to the contractor
then, either that's as far as it goes, or the project actually gets underway

In my experience, 90% of the inquiries I receive go no farther.
In my experience, 90% of the writing samples and interviews go no
farther. In my experience, 90% of the time a client mentions a start
date, it goes no farther. In my experience, 10% of the time, once a
client begins to submit info, it goes no farther. In my experience, 5%
of the time, the project actually gets underway and then goes no farther.

What's important to understand is *where* in this scenario we are
with a project, when the alleged double- or triple-booking takes place.
If we are at the inquiry, writing sample, or interview stage, my policy
is to "Say yes to everything, and take what actually comes up." Beyond
that, it gets tricky, and that's where the contractor's negotiating and
scheduling skills come into play. At every stage, the contract takes the
risk that the project will go no farther, and has to protect
him/herself.

The bills have proven to be a lot more reliable than the clients.

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