Get scripts for reaching out to a client that has not approved a pending change order and proactively communicating the implications of the delay.
What’s the comeback for when a client hasn’t approved a change order and it’s holding up the project?
- Expanding or contracting the scope of work.
- Altering features or changing the functionality of features.
- Adjusting the tools, requirements, timeline, or budget.
- Increasing or decreasing the level of support or staffing demands.
- Modifying the final deliverables.
- Shifting the desired outcomes or benchmarks.
Change orders are a tool used to not only clarify expectations and work to be done but also to ensure you get paid for all of the work you do.
Change orders can also create frustrating project delays.
When a client makes a request that affects the work currently being done, all work must stop until the request is resolved. That usually means meeting with the client to suss out the request and clarify the details, then writing up a change order so the client can consider and evaluate the impact of their request on the project budget and timeline.
The longer a client takes to sign and resolve a pending change order, the longer a project sits in limbo, and that can blow up your project scheduling and negatively affect other areas of your freelance business too.
If a client made an out-of-scope request, you provided a change order, and they have not signed it, use these scripts to follow up.
The first follow-up message…
I’m checking on the change order I sent over a couple of days ago for [PROJECT NAME]. Have you had a chance to look it over yet? Just in case, I’ve attached it again to this message.
As a reminder, all work on your project is on hold until we receive the signed change order, and the longer we wait to resolve this, the longer progress will be delayed.
If the change order is approved, we’ll be thrilled to adjust the workflow and [DO THIS REQUEST]. Or, if you’ve changed your mind and decided to stick with the original scope of work, that’s okay too! Either way, we need the change order signed and returned at your earliest convenience.
If you have any questions, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.
The second follow-up message…
I’m following up again on the change order for [PROJECT NAME] and [CHANGES REQUESTED].
The project is currently on hold waiting for your approval or denial of the change order.
If we sit on this too much longer, we’ll be unable to hit the target launch deadline. We also can’t hold space in our workflow indefinitely, which means if we don’t receive the signed change order by the end of the week, we’ll need to revisit our availability.
I’m sure neither of us wants that to happen!
A signed change order is required for us to resume work on [THE PROJECT] and stay on track to launch on [DATE].
It’s again attached for your convenience. Please review the details and either let me know if you have questions or sign it to either approve it or deny it and stick with the original scope of work.
I look forward to hearing from you.
These scripts are just two you’ll find in Confident Comebacks, a collection of professional client service scripts that will help you quickly and confidently craft firm, fair, friendly responses to sticky client situations.
Get Change Orders Signed Faster
To get a client to sign a pending change order faster, you need to understand why it’s getting held up and provide the proper motivation to get it resolved.
- Is it because the client is busy with other things, this is low-priority, and they’re procrastinating?
- Is it because they’re not the final decision-maker and they have to get approval from someone else?
- Is it because they want to approve it but they’re struggling to make the budget and timeline impacts pencil out?
- Is it because they have changed their mind and no longer want to proceed but don’t know how to tell you?
- Is it because they can’t afford to say yes to their request and they’re embarrassed?
In all of these situations, the client is not resolving the outstanding change order because they either lack the right motivation to make it a priority or they’re avoiding a tough conversation.
Solve these problems and remove the obstacles by:
- Being very clear about the consequences of inaction, such as no forward progress and risk of missing target milestones.
- Giving the client an easy out, like a second signature line to decline the change order.
When creating the change management process for your projects, think about what it means for a client to ask about modifying the scope of work. They’re asking you because it’s important, because it’s something they care about, or because it’s something they’re curious about. Regardless of the reasoning, they’re seeking your advice, insights, and expertise — and they’re asking for help.
For serious requests, a change order gives clients a documented plan to review and evaluate. It becomes a tool that helps them decide the best course of action — even if the best decision is to abandon the request and stick with the original scope of work.
So make exploring new options and ideas a normal, expected, accepted part of your client partnerships and make it okay for clients to decide not to proceed. You’ll feel great about putting your clients’ best interests first and your clients will feel great about their decision to hire you.