Hard Conversations: How to Respond When You Receive Out-of-Scope RequestsBy
We don’t like to make assumptions around here, but there is one we are willing to go out on a limb for–making sure your couples are happy clients is at the core of what you do. When we think about the amazing pros in this community, it is full of people who will go above and beyond to help make their couples’ wedding days the best ones ever.
But, the other thing we would go so far as to say is that, at some point, almost everyone has found themselves in between a rock and a hard place when that couple you love actually asks you to do something that is out of scope. So today, we wanted to share some communication tips and even an email template to help you hold onto your boundaries. Keep reading to learn more!
What is an out-of-scope request?
An out-of-scope request is an ask from a couple that lies outside of your agreed-upon service offering. As a business owner, you’ve likely set some sort of clear boundary between what you can and can’t offer your couples (for example, if you’re a wedding planner, you’re (hopefully!) not frosting the cake the day before a wedding). Some couples, however, will approach you with asks that cross over those lines and it’s your job to reinforce those boundaries.
Pro-tip: If you’re not the best at setting boundaries (which is a lot more common than you’d think), check out our virtual seminar, Setting Boundaries: How to Thrive While Protecting Your Time, to learn all about how you can effectively set boundaries in your professional and personal life.
Why even small out-of-scope-requests can be a big problem
Out-of-scope requests don’t have to be huge for you to spot them. In fact, the majority of these requests probably lie just outside of your boundaries. You might be thinking about all of the small ways you have willingly done something out-of-scope for a client and wonder what the big deal is. You are, after all, in the business of pulling off what sometimes seems impossible! But, here is the thing: while you might sometimes choose to do the extra thing because it’s what you want to do, there is a difference when you are asked to provide extras. Take these two scenarios into consideration.
- You are on a consultation call with a potential client that was scheduled to be 30 minutes. And, you find yourself hitting it off with them and really wanting them to book you but they still have a few questions. You decide that letting the call go for an additional 15 minutes is worth it because it might be what gets them to request a contract.
- You are on a consultation call with a lead who doesn’t feel like the right fit but who has a million questions. You want to help even though it’s unlikely you’ll get hired but when you try to end the call after the scheduled 30 minutes, they say they have one more question. You let them ask it but it seems to have opened the floodgates and all of a sudden an hour has passed.
How do you feel after each of these calls? (We’re guessing pretty good after the first and pretty frustrated after the second.) We know these examples are benign, but they do demonstrate how meetings that repeatedly run long, additional revision requests, or a poorly timed ask that requires a trip back to the flower market can turn a simple ask into a scenario where you feel like you are forced into giving more of your most precious resource—your time.
Pro-tip: The first thing you should do after getting a request that feels like it might be out-of-scope is read through your contract to confirm that it is. Doing so will also make it easier for you to clearly communicate why the request is out-of-scope if it gets to that point.
How to respond to your couples about an out-of-scope request
Needing to say “no” to clients can make even the most confident wedding pro feel uneasy because the right words never seem to spill out. But, when it comes to protecting your time so you can ensure that all of your couples are getting the best customer service you can give them, an out-of-scope request is certainly on the shortlist of things you might need to draw a line for and say “no” to. So, when it comes to formulating your response, here are some of our top communication tips to keep in mind.
- Use the communication channel you are most comfortable with. If the thought of saying “no” to someone’s face is enough to keep you from upholding your boundary, consider sending your reply via email or giving them a call
- Think about delaying your reply (just a bit). Making someone wait 24 hours for your reply when you usually get back in touch within a few hours is a subtle way of communicating the request is out-of-scope
- Keep your response simple and, if possible, give them another choice that is within scope
- If saying yes to the out-of-scope request inhibits you from providing services you are contracted to do, communicate that. You can use phrases like “no, but…” or “yes, if…”
- If the request can be accomplished with additional budget or resources, say something along the lines of “in order to make that happen…”
Don’t know where to start with your response? Here is some sample copy you can tailor to your scenario:
Hi [client’s name],
I received your request yesterday and it is a great idea! I definitely think it will add to the overall design and I wanted to discuss what it will take to bring those to life. We are just one week out from needing to go to print in order to get your invitations out as planned, so at this point in the process, the additional round of revisions will push things back by two weeks. Also, there will be an additional design fee of $350 since you have already received the drafts outlined in my contract. Does this sound like a good plan to move forward? Let me know and I will get working on the updates!
Finding yourself needing to say a “hard pass” to clients and want to know what you should do? Read more about how to say “no” to clients confidently and politely!
Photo Credit: HAKINMHAN/Shutterstock
Let's grow your business together!
Start advertising on The Knot and WeddingWire, the top two wedding planning platforms.