How to Handle a Project Missed Deadline

You couldn’t prevent it and did everything in your power to meet the time-line, but unfortunately you’ve missed the deadline. What to do now?

Every freelancer will sooner or later misses a deadline. It’s not the end of the world, but a client can get really angry if you just tell them. So you need to know how to break the news to the client. In today’s post some tips on how to handle things.

1. Notify the Client

This is of course the most difficult step of all the steps, but you need to notify the client as soon as possible. It’s a must! For example if the client has a client of there own (that is waiting for your work), your client has to notify them that they can’t deliver on time. So bite the bullet and tell them at once.

Waiting until the last moment is never a good idea. Almost every freelancer knows or feels when they are not going to make the deadline of a certain project. So if you feel that time is going to be a problem (for example a week before the deadline) then let your client know you concerns. By telling your client that you probably won’t going to make the deadline, they’ll be able to create other plans or if you lucky grant you an extension. But in any case you need to let them know as soon as possible.

2. Apologizing

If you didn’t met the deadline because of someone else its fault (for instance the client or a supplier) then maybe this step don’t apply. But if you committed to a deadline and missed it based on no fault but your own, then it’s professional to admit to your mistake(s) and apologize. In most cases an apology won’t help, but it demonstrates good manners and an appreciation of the client’s needs.

3. What Went Wrong

Asked for to little time, job to large for one person or order supplies too late? You need to indentify what went wrong! Without knowing what went wrong you can’t correct the problem or avoid it in the future. So this is a crucial step! If you’ve find the problem then also tell the client (maybe you both can learn from the experience.)

4. Create an Action Plan

After you’ve found out what went wrong, you need to create an action plan to show to your client that you intend to avoid the same problems in the future. This will show the client that you’re serious about your working relationship and most of all, that you don’t take missed deadlines lightly. They need to feel reassured that you’ve corrected the problem!

5. Never Again

There will always be unforeseen circumstances and random occurrences that could get in the way of meeting a deadline. But it should never happen two times with the same client or you will probably lose that client’s business. So don’t let it never happen again! Keep on top of your time lines and communicate everything with your client as soon as possible.

It’s also a good habit to document your communications with a client. For instance if they are “accusing” you of not telling them on time then you have something to backup your side of the story. (Store email etc.)

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