Before the project even begins, you realize that you are under a tight deadline. The client needs the video to be completed quickly, and you commit. You are confident in your ability to meet your client’s timetable. Unfortunately, you don’t get very far into post-production before realizing that it will be impossible to get the video finished before the deadline. What happens now? Last year I wrote an article entitled, “Deliver What You Promise,” which stressed the importance of fully evaluating the size and scope of a video project before committing. However, this hypothetical situation is different. In this situation, you are already knee-deep in the project and no longer have the option to turn it down. What can you do?
- Be honest with the client – This item is listed #1 for a reason. It is imperative that you call your client immediately and tell them what’s going on. They will certainly be disappointed that the project isn’t progressing as planned, but your client will respect you much more for being honest than they will if you waited until the very last minute to tell them of the problem. So, keep your client in the loop. Tell them what you’re seeing from your end. Tell them what you’re up against.
- Find out if the deadline can be pushed – Sometimes a client will pad out the schedule, knowing that certain unforeseen problems could arise. Therefore, if your deadline is the 15th, you might actually have until the 22nd. Talk to your client. Find out when the actual make-or-break point is.
- Break up the project into smaller, more manageable sizes – This is the moment when you start farming out portions of the project to other editors in your area. Look through your contact list. Examine your network of video professionals. Is there anyone on that list who could help by editing certain portions of the project while you edit other segments?
- Offer your client a discount on the work – Sometimes you might have to take a hit on your hourly rate in order to maintain a good relationship with your client. So, take responsibility. Face up to the fact that you over-promised and be willing to finish the video at no extra cost to your client. Or, offer them a discount, either on the current project, or a future project (assuming this is a repeat client).
These situations are never easy, and it causes major stress for both you and your client. However, there is always a solution to the problems that seem insurmountable.