Despite “business hours” and requests to make appointments using an online scheduler, sometimes there are clients who play by their own rules. Calls come in at 10:30pm, weekends, and when you are on previously scheduled calls with other clients. You can sit there and hold a grudge, or you can backtrack and establish client boundaries.
You might be surprised to read this, considering I/we usually try to be extremely accommodating. Being accommodating, however, can often turn into clients taking advantage of your generosity.
YOU are your business’ owner, and YOU are the one who has to establish client boundaries. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
Here are a few examples of how I EXPECT you to establish client boundaries:
- Establish official business hours. Do I expect you to stick to them? No. However as far as your clients are concerned, they are in place and that’s when you work. No questions asked.
- Establish business days. While this may sound silly, if your weekends are closed for business let your clients know! For me, I work more than enough during the week so that I don’t have to work the weekends. Does this mean I don’t work on the weekends? No! However I don’t need anybody expecting me to do work over the weekend.
- Establish an online appointment scheduler. I don’t know about you, but I 1) don’t like ignoring beeps when I’m on another call and 2) don’t like telling somebody I have a call in 5 minutes so “make it quick”. Requiring your clients to use your online scheduler and stick to their appointment time is a good way to respect both your time and theirs.
- Establish work time. Keep this in mind: You need time to get your work done. By scheduling time into your calendar to work, you are blocking out your calendar from taking appointments, and you are also giving yourself uninterrupted time to focus.
- Training vs. Performing. At Sutton Creative Studios, we are always happy to learn a new skill or software, on our own time, that will benefit us and multiple clients. Training on the program (ie. practicing on it while we’re making something for our own use) is different than using the skill/software to produce a deliverable for a client. NOBODY should expect you to perform or deliver services or products for free, unless it explicitly discussed AND written officially beforehand.
The next time you bring on a new client, make sure to express and establish your client boundaries up front. And if you have any clients who are pushing all your buttons right now, it’s not too late to draw the line. Remember, YOU are the boss of your business.
Kim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.
Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.