Imagine yourself going on a trip to the countryside. The trip takes about three hours one way and the driver will charge you a fixed rate. He ends up taking some shortcuts and you arrive there an hour earlier. Do you feel cheated if you pay him the exact rate even if it took an hour less? Probably not. Now think of the opposite. How would you feel if he charged you by the kilometer and took the long way, not only charging you more, but also taking more of your time? Your reaction would not only be frustration, but also it might lead you to not trust him again for other future trips which you want to take.
“I don't believe in luck or in hard work without the so called "work smart". It's not all about how you work hard but it's about how you manage your time, resources, mind to work together for a better output.” ― Jayson Zabate
There is no universal formula to set the pricing of your services to please every client. Therefore, understanding your limitations as well as the image you want the client to perceive, are two very important factors to focus on. As the digital services industry has grown in the last decade, so have the expectations of the clients. The perception and trust that they have of your company will determine the success of the project and in turn the clients willingness to consider you for future endeavors. A significant factor in this is the way that you bill the client, whether it be by the hour or a fixed rate.
At Mäd we decided to differ from the traditional hourly rates and set fixed rates. We believe that this method will remove any limitations and frustrations, as well as avoid compromises from the client due to fear of over billing. However, having the right workforce, leadership, and structure are key to being successful. We decided to pivot in this way because hard work and just showing up is not enough. Deciding to look more into the output of an individual instead of their hard work and dedication has the potential to push the project to the next level.
Dealing with limitations and building trust
Limitations with your team members ability to deliver can be hard to deal with. At Mäd, we ensure an open and supportive environment to make this task easier. Our team have the liberty to work from anywhere and set their own schedules, leaving them to know that the liberties and perks come with their ability to deliver. We do not hire individuals who lack motivation and that are wanting to work at a slower pace just to put in their hours. This would not only lead to frustration from our clients but also deteriorate the possibilities to maintain a meaningful and lasting relationship.
Building trust is our formula to making long lasting relationships. At Mäd this is how we deal with limitations. The main way to increase profits when dealing with a fixed rate is efficacy. Having a lasting relationship between you and the client means that the expectations and preferred structure have already been dealt with, this allows the project to commence and be completed in a timely manner. That is why building trust is a core value here at Mäd. It allows us to understand your needs as a customer and ultimately forge a long-lasting relationship.
As it is key to any project, planning and structure come in to be one of the most important parts to focus on. As we pivoted into fixed price rates, so did our emphasis on tackling problems from the beginning. Such solid foundation allows us to foresee any complications that might arise. Having an hourly rate can lead a company to focus less on the beginning of a project compared to when having fixed rates. Having a good initial structure will determine the efficiency as well as keep realistic standards for the project at its future stages.
Frustrations with hourly rates can have a negative impact on the clients perception of you. For instance, having an hourly rate will deter the client from voicing most of their concerns due to the possibility of going over their hourly budget. Having this frustration can lead the client to believe that the output was not worth their financial and creative input.
However, it is good to point out that having the client give in too much input will not only deter the project timeline as well as incur a higher operational cost. Ultimately the client is looking at the output provided and not the input. Having a solid initial meeting can allow this input to be minimal as the project advances. In the words of Abraham Lincoln “If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first hour sharpening the saw”.
Going into a more internal frustration with hourly rates is the need to have someone to keep track of the hours. You will need a supervisor that will track each hour worked as well as encourage the person to fully use those hours appropriately. This task can become a financial burden that can be eliminated by differing to a fixed rate and therefore maximizing your team’s focus on the important aspects of the project.
A good image is worth more than extra profits
Brands pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain a good image with their clients, whether its NIKE with their endorsement of athletes or Google with its simplicity and ease of access. If they care so much, so should you.
Opting for a fixed cost has allowed us to focus on the project and its deadline rather than the hours billed and profit. We believe that trust and a solid relationship is worth more in the long run than a quick buck. Our ultimate goal at Mäd is not to have many big one-time clients, but to build meaningful strategic partnerships and building from that.
Who to hire? Efficiency, work ethic, and expertise
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to fit the mold for the way we run things here at Mäd. As we do offer many perks and incentives to increase work life balance and promote mental health, the concerns of work ethic and efficiency are constantly what we strive to improve. Having the liberty of working remotely has allowed our team members to be passionate about their work and worry less, which is a known burden from the traditional 9 to 5 desk job. For that reason, we hire people who we know will keep the engine well-oiled and running no matter where they are.
To build a solid foundation for our clients we must start with our people and impart ethical practices from the get-go. Ethic in the workplace is a key factor in how a team member will perform, especially when dealing with a fixed rate for a deliverable. At Mäd we are passionate about developing our people. Like any organization, our most valued assets are those that work beside us. Our colleagues. We strongly believe work ethic can be instilled into someone. Work ethic means trust which ultimately leads to reliability.
Being efficient comes with many rewards, not only being able to do more with less but also allowing the completion of the project ahead of time, therefore, trimming down on inefficiencies that may come as a side effect with any project.
Then again, work ethic and efficiency are very important aspects which are needed to join the team and succeed. However, they are only valuable if there is the expertise to back them up and thrive in any environment. We hire people who know what they are doing and can show in the day to day that they can handle anything that is put in front of them. This is where the expertise that each team member brings to the table comes into play, because, at the end of the day the services we offer are only as good as the individuals we hire. Having individuals with great knowledge of their field allows them to find or make shortcuts that can help them be more efficient, provide more in-depth projects and ideas, as well as provide the client with ease of mind that their project is handled by the right person.
In the end the clients are paying for the output you provide. Having said that, we have found that fixed rate billing is the way for us to be most effective and achieve the output which is expected of us. The change has allowed us to let go of much of the “fat” required to run hourly rate projects. As the relationships with our existing clients grow, the efficiency of the projects grows as well. Taking away the stigma of the hourly rate allowed for a new and more open line of communication between our project managers and the clients inputs in initial meetings, setting the tone for the rest of the project from the beginning. This was also reinforced with the fact that hard work will not always mean that the output will be good enough. Therefore, focusing on the output of the individual combined with their expertise to make things happen is where we strive to be.
Lastly, we see our people as our most important asset because with all their qualities they show their value and most importantly provide trust. Without them and their expertise, the projects would not be profitable to be done with a fixed rate. So, while we gain increasingly better and more efficient team members, our clients are reaping the benefits and getting better, more on time, and more impactful outcomes through trusting and solid relationships.