How To Set Clear and Precise Expectations For Potential Clients
It’s important to set boundaries and expectations in any relationship, but especially when that relationship is a working one. Some clients may expect you to be “on call” 24/7 because you work from home or you’re working for them. However, it’s vital that you set your schedule, and let clients know how you work upfront. These experts give you their valuable tips on how to make sure you and your clients remain on the same page.
1) Notify potential clients of your business hours so they know when they can reach you, and then you won’t be available (and be sure to indicate your time zone if the client is not local). I also give them an estimate in terms of my typical response time, so they know what to expect. From my experience, many clients won’t even think about the fact that you work from home if you don’t bring it up. I prefer to just give them my normal business hours and the best ways to reach me, and most clients don’t expect anything more than that.
2) Try to avoid giving out your cell phone number, if possible. I use a Skype number, so if a client does call after hours I won’t be disrupted by my cell phone. It’s a cheap option that helps to keep some separation from your personal and business life.
3) Notify clients of upcoming vacations of time off in advance. I try to give clients a few weeks notice when I am going to be off for several days in a row. That gives us time to get anything urgent done, or set expectations, before I’m away. With this approach, I’ve never had problems with clients expecting me to get things done while I’m away. They always appreciate the notification.
Lauren Beck Kuchugurnyy
1) Incorporate your expectations into pre-sale discussions. For instance, if you are planning to shortly go on vacation, explain this when you’re responding to a request for work. If you’re replying to an email, you might write something like, For your planning purposes, I won’t be able to start the project until (date) due to vacation time.
2) Take advantage of your website to set client expectations. Consider creating content or a web page devoted to your process.
3) Set expectations by your behavior. Don’t set a precedent for responding on weekends or rushing to fulfill every request.
*Give complete oversight* One of the biggest challenges of freelance work is that your employer’s expectations can be very different than your expectations. They also don’t want to be too hands-on, after all, freelance work is supposed to be more efficient right? So how can you give your client oversight without being overbearing? Share them on the project so that they can get involved at their own pace and can give you the direction you need.
*Give them samples* Freelance work can be touch and go times, especially when you’ve never worked for your client before. Often times, their expectations are so drastically different that it’s never communicated directly. If you give your client options then you can give them what they want without wasting too much time.
1) We have a really detailed proposal and contract that we send our clients before we sign on with them. Our contract outlines our working hours, deadlines, what is expected of both parties, that delays can happen if we don’t get everything we need on time and more.
2) Another way I set expectations is I try not to answer on the weekends unless it’s an emergency. Being a small business owner, I am always working, but I found that if you answer emails or calls on the weekends, clients will come to expect this from you all the time, so if you’re trying to set off hours for yourself, this will become more difficult.
3) Another way I set expectations for calls is I invite clients to book a time with me via Calendly. Instead of calling me and either I am unavailable or unable to speak with them, I invite them to book a time with me via my calendar. I set aside a few hours each day just for phone calls.
Do you have tips on how to set expectations when working with clients? Let us know in the comments below.
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