The dreaded scope-creep

I'm a perpetual victim of scope-creep. It seems like every project I'm involved in grows in scope but not in cost. Or, at least, not proportionally in cost.

Its hard to be mad at my clients who initiate the scope-creep. After all, this is their business, and getting a good price on goods and services is what drives their business. When they constantly request more revisions or more features without offering more money, its increasing their bottom-line and ultimately better for their business. I try to put myself in their shoes and not get too angry when I'm hit with the scope-creep.

However, I also have to realize that when a client takes advantage of me, that's hurting my business, and my bottom-line. So what do I do when I decide I'm being taken advantage of?

I used to find that happy medium, and try to re-bid on the changes they requested. However, that's an incredibly hard transition to make. Isn't it a little uncomfortable to bid on a job you're already doing? It's confusing, and my clients often wondered what the hell I was trying to do.

These days, 1 simple line in an email will sum up my feelings. When a client requests something out of the scope of the original agreement, I simply respond, "I'm sorry, but that change is above and beyond the changes originally agreed upon." That's it. That is literally my only response to their request.

To this, my client will only have 2 responses. 1 is to accept it and move on. The other is to ask me for a quote on how much it would be to fulfill their request. Either way, I win.

It is sometimes very difficult to strike a balance between good customer service and not being taken advantage of. I'm in the business of serving other companies, but at the same time, I have to serve my own.