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How to say “no” without losing a current client

Posted by Ilise Benun on

People are constantly asking me for what to say in certain situations—and here’s a situation that comes up a lot: saying no to a client.

In this case, D.C. was asked to do a website for one of her client’s personal interests. The client thought it was a small project, but D.C. knew it wasn’t. She didn’t want to alienate the client, and this is how she tactfully responded. You can adapt this language in a way that works for you.

I've been really noodling this one and I'm afraid I may have to pass. I've
done quite a few websites over the years, and I just can't charge any less
than about $3,500 for something like this.

Even though you perceive your need as small, every project involves time
invested in design, project management, strategy and production. As my
business grows, I employ other people to assist, and I need to compensate
them appropriately. This allows me to be freed up so I can take on more
responsibility for my non-profit clients, offering significantly reduced

No matter what size the project, I try to do the very best work possible …
I would hate to have work out there that I've done quickly and cheaply and
didn't live up to the standards I aspire to.

I have a few other designers I could refer you to, but I'm not sure of their
rates. People I would recommend would be in this ball park price wise.

Another option might be to just use a predesigned template and you could
plug your text and images in… nothing would be customized, however. I
could guide you through this process at my hourly rate of $85/per.

I truly appreciate the opportunities to work with you. I love what
we've created. But to be able to continue doing great work for a few select
non-profits, I have to make sure the other side of my business stays

THE OUTCOME: D.C. got the work for the $3500!

Has this situation happened to you? How did you handle it?

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