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I have that client who prefers to call me to check for status updates for his project even if I'm giving him access my project management tool. We use slack for communication.

It bothers me so much since the amount of money we agreed on is consumed.

And fact is that each time I should re-write this into slack and Asana (that I use for project management) to keep track for the phone calls. When I implicitly ask him to reformulate what he said in slack he just says "It's easy. you just have to do this and this". And it actually takes some time that I'm not paid for.

What do you suggest to me to do to make him just communicate over slack?

He can't assign tasks in Asana because this is a fixed price project.

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    Have you considered charging him for the time it takes you to transfer things from the phone call to Slack? – MackM Aug 5 '15 at 17:40
  • Good approach. Will probably do it in my next projects. INot sure it will work well for a fixed price project. What would you suggest on the rate I should apply for calls? Should it be the same as when I do get things done or lower? Something else? – Anass Aug 6 '15 at 7:29
  • Use google sheets - It has versioning feature which will have sanity check on both parties. Make sure you have "hours worked" column and discuss it with client that you will strictly adhere to work hours in that sheet. And decide on milestones like every 5-10 hours Client needs to pay before you do anything else. – alpa Aug 6 '15 at 14:49
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I hate and decline all project instructions over call as well. I simply tell them something like "In a call, we can discuss plans and ideas at the very high level. However, if you need to explain any feature or your request or you need to clarify something, I prefer in writing so I don't have to retype everything we talked about."

Be determined with this and any other client. If he's too lazy to type, either he pays for someone to type his words or you ditch him.

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You state that:

He can't assign tasks in Asana because this is a fixed price project.

and

We use slack for communication.

The very simple answer is to invoice him for the time spent calls, as these calls appear to be outside the agreed scope of the supply.

You need to reinforce that you have agreed a fixed-price contract for a fixed supply - and any changes (or other time spent) becomes chargeable.

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When you're quoting projects you should add these hours into your quote for your client. Expect a few hours for communication. This way when you do have over excessive communication going on you have been paid for it. You could also stipulate something in the contract they sign off on if they abuse this.

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Don't answer the phone, then ping him on slack and explain that you can't talk right now, but are free to chat via slack.

  • Do you think this is professional? I find that not answering on phone is rude. – Anass Aug 12 '15 at 7:29
  • @Anass Option: hire someone to take all the calls and sort them. But for rudeness, some clients send bits of info instead of gathering their thoughts, use freelancers as a virtual assistants, or notepads; it's alright IF there's a mutual agreement to this. If the client wants to micro-manage in this way, there's a price for this. If you're not charging an extra for all the phone calls, then not answering for 1-3 hours is not rude; who knows, you could be having an appointment with a client. How would you feel being that other client if your designer answer all the calls during the appointment? – go-junta Aug 12 '15 at 10:52
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    Unless your contract reads that you offer phone support, I don't see it as 'unprofessional' to not answer the phone. Premium support is a common value added service in many industries. If - as you state in your question - phone conversations make you less productive, I'd argue that not answering the phone is professional. – Tim Lytle Aug 13 '15 at 19:39
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If you charge fixed rates, then you need another strategy than simply demanding to be paid for this.

The strategy should be to make your client find it easier to use Slack or emails instead.

You can't always demand to the client to do XYZ, you can't act as a spoiled dev or someone who adds more anxiety to his day than he already has. He's paying you. No, you don't ditch a client because "he's lazy", there's still lazy people who pay very well or offer great opportunities.

There's also people who-really-don't-care-about-being-charged-more for the privilege of calling you or having you writing their instructions. There's people you work with whose time are worth 5-10 developers per hour; they don't care paying you if you save them time. Make sure this is clear with your clients.

Lazy people are lazy because it works for them. So make it harder to be lazy, that's simple. Or appeal to their laziness, even better! Frankly I don't consider it lazy if a client asks for updates, he's being responsible in fact. I prefer this to being called on Friday night for a job for Monday morning "they forgot" to assign me.


When your client calls, you can let the phone ring sometimes, and then politely contact him through Slack or email a few minutes later and ask how you can help.

Take charge and redirect the communication where you want it.

If they call many times a day, take one call every three call, or always get back to them on your preferred method.

You also have the best reason in the world to require this and redirect the communication in a written way; you need to keep tracks! For practical reasons and legal ones.

When they call, you can also say "alright", listen to them but then ask them: "Can you send me all this through Slack or email to make sure I'm not forgetting anything? Thanks!" After a while, they'll see it's more efficient to write than repeat twice.

Yes, they'll say the "it's easy, do this and that", but keep your ground and tell them it will accelerate the process, that they might get the files done quicker this way. Tell them it really helps you if they send you an email that you can refer to.

If they keep wanting to tell you instructions by phone, then when you answer, tell them you can't take their call at the moment, you will call them back in 2-4 hours but they can write to you in Slack or email if they want to save time and get things done faster. Show you're a busy professional and make them choose to use Slack or email.

The less they'll cooperate, the more time you should add between the moment you answered the phone and said you will call back, and when you'll actually call back. Start with 2-4 hours, then 3-5, then 4-6, etc. It gives them more time to gather their instructions and get prepared (and write them), and they will also discover you're faster when you get emails or written communication.


Give updates; a lot of clients will ask for them because they were not told WHEN they can expect their projects.

So the easiest is to tell them as you reply to their questions, an estimate when you'll deliver the revisions or proofs or whatever. If you take charge on this too, you'll see they'll simply take the habit of waiting for you to keep them updated.

It's normal some of them will verify how the project is going; they're managers! They're used to this and they usually need to do this with their other employees. So be ahead of this and give updates before they ask!

For example, in the morning, contact the client who often call and tell them something like: "I'm working on XYZ, I expect to finish this by the end of the day or early tomorrow morning. I'll keep you updated on how it's going. Have a good day!"

No need to be ultra precise unless you're working on a super urgent project! You don't want to make your clients anxious or they'll call to verify how it's going!


Charge! Very efficient way even if you don't feel comfortable with this. Add it to your invoice, don't mention it and wait until they ask you why you charge them for this.

Then you can explain that you can offer freelance rates because you don't need to hire people or virtual assistant to help you with the calls. Personally, I don't hire virtual assistants for this and explain to my clients that no one could answer their questions on the phone as well as I do, and that I'd rather not make them waste their time explaining stuff to someone else who has no clue about their projects and the job. The easiest to communicate with me by phone or Skype is by appointment... until I can clone myself. If you work with other people in your team, you do the same for them; filter the calls and suggest an appointment.

After sending that first charge for communication and after they asked about it, THEN you tell them that for this time, it's alright, you can remove the charge and let that one pass. You do this once though! Then you charge for real. But give them at least a chance to understand how you prefer to proceed.

As an extra, you can mention that Slack or email communications are usually included in your projects' fees though! In fact you should specify this in your contracts since you charge flat rates, and mention that Skype and phone calls are limited to X minutes and only if something is hard to explain, or at the beginning of the project.

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