False economy: Beware the lure of the quickie

So your customer rings and says, “I need something fast, cheap and cheerful, nothing fancy. Could you have a quick look?” Don’t believe it. This is false economy and the result can be less than satisfying for all involved.

Having done quite a few of these small ‘favour’ type jobs over the years, I can tell you that often they cause the biggest headaches.

Quickies are often identified by language such as: “throw something together”, “mock something up”, “just give us your top-line thoughts”, “take a quick squiz”, “while you’re here”, or, “don’t spend much time on it!”

While these all sound fair, reasonable and innocent requests – and sometimes they are – typically these jobs have vague requirements, low budgets and fast timeframes. This false economy is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

The first problem is that people like what they like. If they don’t like the logo you designed for them, their opinion won’t change just because you did it in half an hour.

The second problem is these speedy jobs can end up taking the longest time. Even if the initial execution is quick, the subsequent liaising and clarifying eats away at time.

The third problem is that once a low quality job is delivered, all the control and context is lost. For example people won’t critique your work with the knowledge that it was low cost, they’ll just criticise it based on quality.

In the same way that people quickly forget a high price if you deliver high quality, they’ll also forget the low price if you deliver low quality.

These sorts of favours can work well, but do think carefully before putting out sub-standard work. In the long-term it may be better for you and your client to take a step back and insist on following your regular quality control process, even if you apply mate’s rates at the end.

What’s your experience of the quickie? We’d love to hear your advice or false economy disaster stories.

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