So often in business we want to exceed client expectations, gain new business and keep clients happy. This is great and I have no problem with this and in fact encourage it. What I do want to ensure is that business owners don’t become slaves to their business and their clients.
Find out Tips on How to Make Time for It All.
Tips on How to Not be a Slave to Your Clients:
After hour meetings
These should be ‘by appointment only’ and limited to only one or two nights a week (of your choosing) or say Saturday afternoon. Don’t be on call 24/7 and certainly don’t cancel a family activity because a client wants to meet you say Sunday afternoon when you are meant to be somewhere else.
Set the message up front
It’s so much easier to advise new clients up front what the rules are – ie I tell clients I am available via phone Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm and only if I’m not with a client. I rarely get calls after hours because I’ve clearly outlined my business hours and I thus avoid having to ‘rein someone back in line’ after they’ve begun bad habits.
Demonstrate the message
If someone contacts you at night or on the weekend, send them a text certainly acknowledging the contact, saying “Thanks for your enquiry, I’ll call you first thing Monday morning”. Also if you are working on weekends and on email, delay the send of these say for 8am on Monday … so clients don’t get the message you work all weekend. They figure if you’re on email, then it will be fine to just ring. You may be on email because you need some quiet time without interruption and hence working a Saturday morning.
Learn to say no
Perhaps a client will ask for an unreasonable deadline. Rather than bucking a gasket and almost killing yourself to meet that deadline, communicate with them and negotiate a compromise. Perhaps you can’t exactly meet their requirements, but outline what you can do, and then of course, be sure to fulfill that promise.
Don’t answer the phone
If it’s 10 at night and you’re going to sleep then do NOT answer the phone. If it’s not too late, you might text them back “I’ll call you first thing in the morning” but don’t pick up the phone and then be cranky with them for bugging you late at night. YOU chose to answer the phone (and especially if you have caller ID and know it’s a client calling and not family).
Look after your clients and give them great value, but first you need to look after yourself. Remember why you got into business and unless it was to work 7 days a week from 6am till midnight, then be sure to be true to yourself. Remember the expression “we deserve what we tolerate” which I believe is so true. My experience is that if you provide a great service during business hours, a good client (which is what you want) won’t expect you to pick up at 10pm, or ditch your kids’ soccer game Saturday afternoon to service them.
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