Finding our your client's budget can save a lot of time and aggravation. By simply asking, or researching, how much a client can spend you can often determine not only if you can take a job, but what type of service you can provide. As there are often variables that can greatly affect costs, it will help you work with the client rather than quoting blindly and potentially losing a project.
The most simple and straightforward approach to determining a budget is to ask the client what they can spend. Rather than spending hours working up a proposal for work the client might not be able to afford, try to find out their budget from the start and work from there. Jobs can often be done in stages or at different costs. Variables can be changed such as the paper used, inks, features on a website and more. Therefore, a lower budget doesn’t necessarily mean the work can’t be done.
Ideally, clients would always tell your their budget when you asked them. However, this will almost certainly not always be the case. Clients will often assume you want to know their budget so you can quote at or close to it, and make the most possible money off a project. If you can explain to them, however, why a disclosed budget can benefit both parties, the client may be more likely to reveal it and this can result in an improved designer-client relationship.
Present the Client with Budget OptionsWhile the goal here is to find out the client's budget, sometimes this can be achieved by presenting the client with several budget options. Explain the benefits and drawbacks of each, and how the outcome will differ depending on the cost. Let the client know that these are just estimates based on your current knowledge of the project, and with further knowledge you can come up with a final estimate. Hopefully, the client will respond by telling you which budget option is most realistic, and you can proceed with a better understanding of their budget.
Give the Client a Minimum Price or a Price RangeWhile it is difficult to estimate a project without all of the details and a solid outline, you can often give a large budget range and the client may in turn let you know if it fits within their budget. If they say it is possible in that range, you can still quote the low or high end depending on the scope of the work. You may also have a minimum amount that you are willing to take for a job, and by letting the client know that up front you will find out if they can afford the lower end of your rates. Again, let them know you are coming up with estimates to help determine the course of the project, and that a final estimate will be in your full proposal.