It’s Saturday and you are enjoying your well-deserved day off, but decide to check your voice mail. Your client has left a voice message for you and indicates he expects a call back today. What do you do?
Do you halt your own plans on your day off and call him immediately?
Do you grumble about how unfair it is that he expects you to call him on a weekend but make the call anyway?
Most entrepreneurs are stuck in this cycle of giving up their own joy to cater to their clients because they think that this is equivalent to ‘the client is always right’. Just because you want to keep your clients and make them happy doesn’t mean you should bend over backward and sacrifice for them.
Instead, you have to educate them.
Think of it in these bold terms: your clients are like well-meaning dogs that haven’t been trained.
An untrained dog jumps around when he’s excited, gets on the furniture, tears stuff up, makes a mess, makes you crazy, doesn’t know right from wrong, when to be quiet, or even what is considered misbehaving.
Your clients are like dogs.
No, I’m not saying they are dirty or drooling, but if you don’t educate them on how things work from the get-go, they are going to jump all over you and tear up your peace and calm.
They won’t mean to, they just won’t know any better.
If you do nothing, you will train your clients to dog on you! Consider a few innocent ways this will happen:
- You return their calls during nights and weekends giving the green light that you ARE available at these times.
- You sacrifice sacred parts of your schedule because a client ‘couldn’t’ get there during the day.
- You don’t clarify boundaries and how your process works from the get-go and don’t restate them with each passing step so that they are a clear, fresh command.
- You have your away message on while attending a conference but you use your networking break to return calls to existing clients the very same day.
- You allow a client to break a boundary you have set, grumbling to yourself as you stay up all night to rush their project.
By not setting good expectations up front and rewarding bad behavior, you end up the unhappy slave to your clients. Then business isn’t quite so fun anymore.
Clients are paying and they want what they want when they want it. But you should know that this rarely erupts into bad dog behavior if a new client is educated on how your business runs.
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