Are you sick of your clients missing deadlines … again? This may sound a bit harsh, but maybe it is because you let them!? If that’s you, it’s time to lay down the rules and set some clear boundaries. And this is how you do it.
I have no intention of starting an argument but I want to bring up a question that is kinda important.
So here we go…
DO YOU GET FRUSTRATED WITH CLIENTS MISSING DEADLINES?
You know, the clients who drag their feet providing you with the feedback or essential information you require to move forward with your work.
You did your side of the job. Now the client needs to review your work, provide you with key information, so you can move on to the next stage of the project … but they’re late!
SO THE SCHEDULE YOU SO METICULOUSLY DRAFTED GETS ALL MESSED UP.
In the meantime, you’re twiddling your thumbs, which is annoying because when they finally get back to you, it’s going to put massive time pressure on YOU in order to meet the deadline. It’s not fair to other clients either, because you’ll have to rush their work too. And to make things even worse, you’re reluctant to take on extra clients, because you may or may not be able to do the work.
To sum it up, it’s …
Bye, bye scaling.
Bye, bye profitability.
And bye, bye lifestyle.
Web designers, copywriters, bookkeepers, event managers,… It’s an issue all agency owners are prone to.
YOU KEEP YOUR CLIENTS IN LINE.
Setting Boundaries With Clients
See, if the answer to my above question was ‘Yes’, it probably means you allow to let your clients set the rules, with detrimental consequences to your business.
But no more!
Today is the day you’re reclaiming your business. Today, you’re kindly but firmly setting boundaries with your clients. And it all starts with clear expectations,… amongst a few other things.
Strategy 1: Good Onboarding = Setting Client Expectations
It’s not a secret that it’s easier to lay down the rules from day zero than it is to be the frustrated (or grumpy) agency owner half-way down the project. What I’m saying is… onboarding is more important than you think if you want to avoid clients missing deadlines.
Some things I suggest you include in the onboarding process.
- Get your clients to commit to certain dates for their input. Make them put it in their calendar. Be clear that these are not suggestions, but hard deadlines.
- During the onboarding, let your clients know there are consequences for not adhering to these dates. This can be a variety of things , depending on your business.
- Silence on their end can mean you move forward with the initial recommendations.
- A missed deadline translates into a late fee.
- They may be moved to the back of the line. (Horror!)
- If appropriate for your business, include a clause in the contract that releases you from meeting the completion date of a project if they missed the deadlines on their end. (Obviously, this may work for a web designer, for instance, but it wouldn’t work for an event manager like me where completion dates are set in stone.)
- Set a limit to the amount of reviews you allow. Not only does it stop clients from demanding a gazillion reviews, it also makes sure they won’t half-ass their side of the job, because they’ll know this is their one shot.
- As much as possible, extract the information you’ll need from your client during the onboarding process. It means you already have it when you need it. For me, a checklist during onboarding works wonders.
Strategy 2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Another ‘old friend’ that keeps popping up. (That must mean there is some merit in it, right!?) Good communication prevents the ‘I forgot’ or ‘You didn’t tell me’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying clients have bad intentions. I admit, I have been that client. I understand people are busy, and unless you as the business owner communicate that clients missing deadlines is not ok with you. They’re going to assume it’s not a big deal.
- Have regular meetings that align with the anchor points in your repeatable processes, dates locked in from the start.
- Have in-person meetings. Most clients don’t like to tell you to your face they didn’t do the work. In an email or a text, however… it’s a lot easier to brush you off.
- Send a written summary of the meeting afterwards. It leaves no room for doubt later on.
- Communicate outside of these meetings with regular update emails. Include a reminder of upcoming deadlines in these. For a web designer, this could be something like ‘We're now in week two. We are still prepping your copy, but it will be with you by the end of next week, and we’ll need you to review it by the end of the following week. ‘
Strategy 3: Use VIP Days To Stop Clients Missing Deadlines
Call it a Done-In-A-Day or a One-Day-Intensive.
The bottom-line is that you do all the project work in a single day (It can also be two or three days, depending on the project). It’s very time efficient in that you don’t have to jump between projects, but also that you have your client's undivided attention for that day and no risk of your clients missing deadlines!
It doesn’t work for all agency work, but it could still be a big help for parts of a project, or for some services you offer. For instance, I could never organise an event in a day (Heck, these things take months!) BUT, I do offer a one-day service where I help our clients put their event strategy in place or where we create their event brief.
If VIP days is something you want to know more about, head over to Episode 16 of the podcast where Sarah Masci explains how she started running her business on the VIP day model after having done project work for years.
So…Are You Ready To Stop Your Clients From Calling The Shots In Your Business?
Are you ready to work with the clients who respect your boundaries? Who comply with the expectations, therefore allowing you to do the fantastic job that they expect you to do? Do you want to stop sacrificing other projects or your personal time because a client has been dragging their feet?
IF YOU ARE THEN I’M READY TO HELP YOU WITH THAT!
I’ll help you put a client onboarding system in place so your clients have clear expectations from the start. You can book my FREE 60 Minutes Scale Strategy Session here.
It’s an obligation free call during which we’ll look at…
- How to set boundaries with clients?
- How to give a deadline to a client?
- How to manage client expectations?
But we’ll do even more.
- We’ll look at the current situation in your business. We’ll identify what's working and what's not.
- We’ll uncover the number one bottleneck, restricting your growth and holding you back from scaling.
- And last but not least, we’ll come up with a plan to move your business forward for the next 90 days and beyond.
I’M KEEN!!! I’M SURE YOU ARE TOO. SO, HURRY ON OVER!