time to time I get a client saying that they don't like the number of hours estimated. I always estimate a good breathing space to ensure that it doesn't result in a crappy product by rushing through it. Especially when they wait weeks without communicating with you and then coming back and say "we asked around and other people say they can get it done faster, did you make a mistake?"

how do you deal with these types? Is it worth not doing the project?


4 Answers 4


Keep doing what you do. It is a good filter method which protects and helps you get rid of clients that want cheap labor or quick fixes.

I cannot find anything wrong with your method of estimating the amount of time you find necessary for getting the work done.

If this is what you need to deliver quality, then there is no reason to change. Not if your business generates profit.

Yes, there are faster workers. And, yes, there is cheaper labor force.

This being said, stay who you are and negotiate what you think is best for your business in order to maintain a high rate of client satisfaction (and implicitly generate word of mouth) by delivering quality and high standards.

The market has an invisible hand and it is capable of reaching an equilibrium without the need that you lower your prices or rush the work you do (just because one of ten clients says so). If your clients want someone else (faster, cheaper or just better) let them have this other person.

"Is it worth not doing the project?"
YES. If you lose money by lowering your standards or by making too many concessions then yes, it is worth not doing the project.

"How do you deal with these types?"
You negotiate what's best for you. If you feel you need a certain amount of time and if you aim for a certain amount of money, than defend your interests by being the better negotiator between you and your prospective client.


Welcome to reality! :) Either those clients are looking for cheap work or you really suck in estimation. Kidding about the later ;).

You can try things like this:

  • separate estimation to most ideal, medium, and worst case estimation
  • separate estimation to its basic unit and then evaluate each.
  • separate testing from coding, make sure it's visible
  • try giving price in man days instead in work hours (1 man day looks better than 8 work hours in cheap eyes)
  • try going with fix price and giving only price and time frame

Other than this you cannot do much. Such clients are usually like that. Even if you gave them 30% of estimation, they would still complain. I suggest you stick to your own estimation and keep notes on how much time you need to implement repeating features. It will help you make better estimation.

  • Yup. Sounds also like you're going to want to try to move away from an hours-based billing for this client. Try fixed price instead with some kind of elastic coverage for scope creep and revisions.
    – iag
    May 26, 2014 at 21:10

Don't sell yourself short. It's really not worth it.

The type of client that complains that a task will take two hours is the same client that would sue the pants off a building contractor for using substandard materials and cutting corners, even in the case where the client has pressured the contractor to work as cheaply as possible.

The next time this happens, turn it around on the client (gently). Ask, "what basis are you using that tells us that I'm estimating too many hours?" You'll often hear, "well, my project isn't really that complicated." At that juncture, you might decide that the client needs some education on how things really work. You might even engage the client to PAY you to explain, with brevity, how the development cycle works -- doing this will tend to correct the client's expectations. Some clients will balk at paying "tuition" to learn about the inner workings of their proposed project. THOSE clients are the ones you need to drop like a bad habit, or you'll have hell for the duration of the project because the client just doesn't get it.


I agree with the points that Avram wrote. These points are excellent and I follow them too. Separate estimation to most ideal, medium, and worst case estimation is the beset point. When I get the project, I tell client the most ideal timing. Later on if I feel that I need more time to do the job, I discuss in detail with the client. In my case I personally try to do every job in the most ideal timing.

  • Hello, this doesn't really explain how to deal with clients who come back and challenge your estimates. On Stack Exchange, we're looking for answers that not only answer the question but also are backed with facts and references. Please consider an edit to address the question as per How to Answer. Good luck!
    – jmort253
    Jun 15, 2014 at 2:45

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