If you’ve been a contractor for long, you know what it’s like.

The job your client hired you to do seemed manageable at first but then it starts to get bigger. Your client lays on more and more until it’s morphed into a giant beast you didn’t agree to.

The problem?

Client expectations.

If the business owner doesn’t manage client expectation, the client begins to expect champagne when they can only pay for beer, or that more work be done in less time.

Sometimes it’s difficult to manage client expectations, but here are a few tips to do just that:

1. Get it In Writing

You know you need a contract for each new client.

A contract usually outlines the scope of work, the price, and the timeline of the working relationship. Contracts can save you from a lot of legal and technical hassle in case there’s a misunderstanding between you and the client or somebody doesn’t hold up their end of the agreement.

But to truly manage client expectations, you can use your contract to have a detailed conversation of the scope of the work you’re agreeing to do with the client.

Instead of just summarizing the work within the contract, spend the time to sit down with the client and outline the details of exactly what goes into the project, and what doesn’t make the cut.

If the client is hiring you to renovate their kitchen, for example, discuss and record their budget along with their desires. Which reasonable upgrades could they request? Which requests are not reasonable within the scope of the contract? What type of finishes are you committing to provide, and are they comfortable with?

This may sound like overkill, but you’ll find it is extremely effective in managing those client expectations.

2. Exceed Their Expectations

One of the biggest pitfalls of client expectation is when a client doesn’t feel as if they received the service they were expecting.

So, there are few things more effective for managing client expectations than under promising and over delivering.

As tempting as it is to promise your clients the moon even if you aren’t sure you can keep up with their demands, this approach mismanages the client’s expectations of the work you’re going to do.

There’s nothing better for managing client expectations than completely exceeding them, and that’s where this tip comes in.

Go above and beyond the call of duty and the scope of the contract. If you’re not sure whether you can get something done, don’t write it into the contract and use it as a bonus if you end up being able to deliver on it.

3. Get Them Involved

Have you ever wanted to see a movie really badly, but when you finally got to the theater and watched it you were disappointed by it?

Well, that’s because your expectations exceeded reality.

Now, if you’d heard about the movie from a friend before you went to go see it, your expectations may have been a little more realistic. You probably would have left the theater liking the movie a lot more than you did if your expectations hadn’t been managed.

Well, working with clients is a lot like this. If you get your clients involved, communicate with them liberally and keep them in the loop with progress, issues, and the vision of the project, you have a powerful expectation-management tool in your tool kit.

As a contractor, it can be difficult to manage communication between all of the subcontracts, trades and the client too, but going the extra mile to keep them in the loop can make all the difference.

Managing client expectations isn’t always easy, especially as a contractor, but you don’t want your clients to be disappointed by all of the hard work you’re putting in on their projects because they weren’t sure what to expect.

Take matters into your own hands and manage your client’s expectations by getting them involved, exceeding their expectations, and making sure you keep detailed documentation of the scope of your project.

This will cover all the bases and ensure that everybody remains happy.