The Happy Studio – Handling Revisions

Revisions are part of our business. If you try to fight human nature, you’ll fail, -and have less clients because of it. People change their minds, committees have to be pleased, legal has to have their say. If you’re prepared for it, and understand it’s part of the job, you’ll get through it easier.

• First, have a strong filter for what’s a “revision.” If it’s your fault, or something that should be part of your job to start with, -treat it as such. Accept blame, Assure the client. Act fast. Put yourself in their shoes, – what are the things you would want to hear? Sorry is probably at the top of the list, followed closely by a promise to fix it promptly.

• Think about the big picture. Have your thoughts together going into the meeting so you can talk quickly and succinctly if the seemingly small revision is going to effect other parts of the project in a costly, or bad way. Don’t hesitate to bring things like that up to your clients, they would rather have prompt honesty. Clients want to brainstorm with you, – let them. But take control of the process by remembering the big picture.

• Smile a lot. Many creative people hate meetings, -us included. Remember that your clients are real people with real needs. They’re not there to torture you. Your friendly attention during the meeting will help everything go faster, and smoother. The best tool to bring in your belt to a client meeting is sympathy.

• Say yes first. Just say yes a lot. Say that you understand. Take notes. Even if you come full circle ten minutes later and say you think it was a bad idea, -say yes first. Make positively sure that your client knows that you think their ideas are worth listening to.

• Ask your clients to rephrase their revisions. Make them be specific, and keep probing until they are. When they say “you know what I mean?” -it’s an invitation for you to ask more questions. A vague outcome to a meeting doesn’t do anyone any favors. You’ll just have to repeat the meeting, and spend more time and budget clarifying the thing you should have cleared up in the first place.

• Ask why. Don’t be rude, -don’t be abrupt, -but ask your client why the change needs to be made. If you disagree with the revision, making them verbalize the purpose will often expose the fact that the revision is an attempt to cure a symptom rather than the real problem.

• Wait. Say you want to think about it for awhile. Time heals all wounds, and it often eliminates the need for changes, too. Sleeping on a problem often opens you up to a solution based on the request. Time also gives you the perspective you need to remember that this is a service industry, and that you only make money when your client approves you time to work. No matter what else they are, – revisions are an approved way to make money.

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