Why I don’t throw things in, and you shouldn’t either

I know you’re expecting to read about how clients asking you to throw features in devalues your work.

It shows you that they don’t value you and it’s a red flag about working with them, because there is always going to be one more thing that should get ‘thrown in’.

You expect me to tell you that you should stand firm and offer to remove features to add these ones in.

While I don’t disagree with any of those things, you need to step back and think about what it means when a client asks you to throw something in.

It’s about client education

Some clients out there work in industries where they do throw in little things regularly.

They also account for that in their pricing all around. So that little thing that was thrown in actually raises the cost of all the rest of the items on the bill.

Usually they don’t have experience in the web industry and they expect it to work the same.

It doesn’t and we don’t throw things in, especially for first time clients.

You don’t know if they’re ‘awesome’ clients yet.

A music venue

I have worked on the site for a music venue in the US for years. I think they were my first ‘big’ client and they continue to bring in around 10% of my income each year.

They are easy to work with and understand technical issues as they arise.

A while ago they had to let a staff member go and needed to change all the passwords on everything that the staff member had access to.

Quickly.

On Saturday, when I usually would be charging weekend/rush rates.

Because I’ve worked with them for years I stopped everything I was doing and helped them and I didn’t charge rush rates.

I did charge my normal rates, but not rush and they were happy for my help.

They have never expected things ‘thrown’ in, so I really don’t mind going the extra mile for them which is essentially what throwing things in is.

It’s about client value

When a client asks you to throw something in, it reveals how much they value the feature.

It tells you they don’t value the feature at all.

They don’t know how it’s going to make them more money or save them time.

It’s not something that external or internal people have been asking for and is a major pain point.

It’s just a way for them to feel like they got some ‘extra’ out of you.

If it was really something that they valued they wouldn’t ask for it to be thrown in because it’s small. They’d ask if it was included in scope and if not, what would it cost to get it done.

It would be important enough to make sure it was in, even if it cost money.

That feature they want, doesn’t even matter to them outside of a moral victory. It’s entirely useless and a waste of everyone’s time all around.

I don’t

I don’t throw things in for all the reasons you expected at the top.

More importantly, because my client doesn’t even value it and I do things of value.

photo credit: stavos52093 cc

4 thoughts on “Why I don’t throw things in, and you shouldn’t either

  1. I think some of this stems from corporate culture.

    I used to work for a bank. I did 2nd level support for our corporate staff. We had a hired company that handled all support for the retail side (branches). We got paid salary on the expectation of 40h/wk. The contractor got paid hourly.

    The times were good. We were going through a lot of mergers and acquisitions. Along with that goes moving people around, replacing the other bank’s systems with our systems, etc. Naturally, a lot of those things got handled outside of business hours.

    For a while it was fine. My old boss used to tell us to take a half day Friday after putting in time on a Saturday. After all, that Saturday was a day I gave up away from my family and things I wanted to do. After I had already worked a 40 hour week. I didn’t get paid overtime. So being flexible and telling us to leave early was a nice reciprocation.

    Time passed, he got let go. New boss, who was actually his boss filling in temporarily, didn’t approve of this policy. We were expected to just throw in some extra time. You know, 8-10 hours on a Saturday and another 6-8 on a Sunday. After working a 40 hour week. And I’m not just talking once a year. This happened usually a couple weekends in a row, 2-3 times per year. So we’re talking 6-10+ weekends a year above and beyond.

    Naturally, we pushed back. All the sudden we were asked by a project manager to help out with a move. We all responded with “Sorry, I’m busy that weekend” or “Can’t. I already have plans.” So they started utilizing the contractors for their weekend work, even though it was out of the scope of what they normally did. After a while, even they pushed back. Nobody really wants to give up weekend after weekend, even if you’re getting paid hourly.

    It got to the point that the project managers were literally begging us to work for them. They were telling us they’d cover for our bosses while we snuck out early on a Friday to make up for it. Luckily the bank hit a period of turmoil and things got drastically scaled back around 2007-2008.

    I could tell you another story from another company I worked at, where similar situations happened, but I probably shouldn’t write a novel in your comments.

    My point is, corporations like to squeeze people for as much as they can. So it’s “normal” for this behavior. They’re almost conditioned to it, even from a giving perspective. So you try and get the same from others. “Well if I have to go above and beyond a little bit, we should try and get everyone else to as well.”

    I’m not making excuses. It’s a behavior I hate, to be honest. I’m not against charity and giving, but I am against the *expectation* of someone going above and beyond just because. You hit the nail on the head– it shows a complete lack of understanding value on their part.

    1. I’ve been in a similar boat where we were asked to ‘volunteer’ (which I’ve always called voluntold) for an event where we were unpaid. I of course just said ‘no’ and didn’t show up which brought a bit of heat but I was never told to show up again. I was asked and paid, because it turns out my boss actually valued it.

      As I said, if it’s something that’s properly valued by your client/boss then it’s worth spending money on.

  2. We throw things in on almost all our custom WP theme builds, but not in the way you are suggesting. Completely agree with your points. Our PMs are clear with clients, they want something extra, it’s a change order. We would get killed otherwise. But we also understand that the long term value of our work is important and directly linked to the customers’ use experience. As a result, we toss things into the build that we know they will find useful, but they didn’t think to include in the scope. For example, we have a house plugin that makes it easy for clients to add and manage tracking scripts in the header and footer. Clients love this. We add WP101 to all our builds. Again, lots of positive feedback. Almost every day I talk to our developers about having empathy for the end user, about looking for ways to make using the themes we build easier for non technical clients. Throwing in value like this pays off every time.

    1. I do exactly the same type of things tossed in. So we are in full agreement.

      Hrm another post…

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