Developers when young in their career are keen to impress. The words “I’ll get on it straight away” are often used and the client ends up being impressed as a result. This works very well and everyone ends up happy when the workload is kept low.
The problem occurs when growth accelerates and the developer has to learn to say “it’ll be two weeks” to a client who wants it within two days. When “I’ll get on it straight away” means that you’ll likely reach the job in a few hours rather than a few minutes.
There are several ways to deal with this to ensure you aren’t bogged down whilst working on current projects by past clients and side jobs alike.
Sell x hours a month to your clients to ensure they’re paying for the time you spend maintaining and updating their sites when they come back to you. It benefits both sides as it means you have a reason to get to the job sooner and it means the client is happy to place requests in a certain format and manner as set out in the contract. Want to give a two week lead time? Make it clear in the contract.
Make sure free support time is limited.
Ensure you have a 30, 60 or 90 day cap on free support for bug fixes and issues with a website. This isn’t to say that you will launch bug-filled websites, but it’s to say that there’s a point where by the final payment for the project has left your bank account and that it’s no longer fine to work any further on the project.
Schedule projects in, and turn projects down.
Probably the most important of the three in my opinion. The ability to schedule work and changes properly is only ever going to benefit your work life and happiness overall working on projects. If a change comes in that will be billed as a day then you need to book that in for a certain date so that the client knows when to contact you regarding that change.
Setting time aside for this each week is also a great idea for handling large or regular loads of work of this nature. If you can set aside time for this it’s certainly a great idea. If you don’t have lots of changes to do one week then you have time off and it works well in the opposite direction too.