If you’ve worked in the agency world for any amount of time you have undoubtedly experienced projects that get paused by the client. While it can sometimes seem like a relief to suddenly be released from a tight deadline, project pauses will also cause you to lose money (if you are not diligent in recouping your losses). When you allocate resources and time to a project and it gets paused, you will need additional time and resources to mend the gap. For this reason, it’s important that your contract has protections for project pauses. While I’m not qualified to offer legal advice, I can recommend you talk to your lawyer about contractual protections for project pauses. It’s also important to let your clients know that pausing a project cancels any timeline agreements that were made. And that there is no guarantee that you will be able to fit them back into the schedule as soon as they are ready to continue. They will need to get in line.
I asked the agency leaders in the Grow Your Agency Slack Group to weigh in on project pauses.
The following contains excerpts from conversations about agency pricing in the Grow Your Agency Slack group. The group is free to join! Sign up here!
All quotes are used by permission and only edited for clarity.
“We also have a pause clause with a restart fee to adjust for a client just becoming slow or unresponsive. With retainers we try two things:
A) Offer a different scope of work. If the pause is do to internal capacity, maybe we can work on something that doesn’t require as much coordination, feedback, and oversight.
B) Offer a reduced scope of work. We review the results they’ve been getting and express it would be a shame to lose the equity they’ve built up, maybe we can just scale back.”
Ross Johnson, Co-Founder 3.7 Designs
“We have a pause clause as well, although we’re circumspect about actually invoking it — there are often good reasons for a pause and clients who communicate better about it. The reality is that most clients don’t actually know what they’re getting into when starting a project. Or, they’ve been forced to make promises to their leadership that they know aren’t realistic. We look at it as our job to build momentum and keep them going. Sometimes we’ll even describe the process as “If you set this deadline, we’ll drag you across the finish line, kicking and screaming if we have to.”
“We added a clause in our contracts where if the project is on pause for more than 90 days, they agree to pay a “restart fee” which is determined when they want to restart. With digital changing so much each year, we have to update or redo strategy or the execution of their campaigns.”
Nick Footer, CEO of Intuitive Digital
Thoughts on project pauses? Let us know in the comments below!