Train Your Clients to Respect Your Well-Defined Boundaries

Comments Off by in Articles
February 12, 2013
Train Your Clients to Respect Your Well-Defined Boundaries

You hang up the phone and sigh. The client that you were thrilled to work with a couple months ago has turned into a nightmare. Somehow along the way they convinced you to reduce your already reasonable fee. They’re calling you day and night, they want it right away but they don’t want to pay a dime more for it.

Whose fault is it that you’re in this situation?

It’s so easy to throw all of the blame on the client. But by doing that you’re setting yourself up to let it happen all over again. You see we train our clients on how we expect to be treated as professionals from the start. It’s your job to establish clear boundaries from the very beginning so these nightmare scenarios never get out of hand.

What do I mean by boundaries? These are standards, policies and procedures you establish for your business so you’re protected. They ensure that your time, energy and expertise are respected and valued. This might sound selfish, but ultimately it’s in the best interest of your clients as well. If you’re feeling stressed out and under-appreciated it’s going to be reflected in the work that you do.

So the first thing you’ll want to do is examine what boundaries you’d like to define. Here are a few examples:

  • Set office hours for answering calls. You don’t need to be available 24/7 just because you have your smart phone with you 24/7.
  • Set up a clear payment policy. It’s now common business practice for people to expect to pay at least a portion upfront.
  • Set up a cancellation policy. This helps your client be more accountable and committed to working with you.
  • Set up a guarantee policy. What is your policy if the client isn’t happy? You need to think about this ahead of time so you can respond if there is a complaint.
  • Set up your expectations for your client. If your client is unprepared that can derail your time working together. Do they need to complete homework before you meet again?What do they need to get ready prior to your first consultation?
  • Set up your expectations for yourself. This is particularly important for long-term projects. Be crystal clear on the deliverables, what’s included in the scope of the project (and what’s not), and stipulate the timeline for the project.

Start compiling your own list of boundaries. Anytime you experience a misunderstanding with a client make note of it. It might be a good idea to come up with a new policy that enables you to avoid that particular misunderstanding in the future.

Now the next thing you need to do is communicate your boundaries. An excellent way to do this is to have them outlined in a Welcome Packet or Handbook that you provide all new clients. It’s also a good idea to review some of the key policies verbally with your new client. If discussing a payment policy makes you uncomfortable, script it out ahead of time and rehearse it. This allows you to speak confidently and professionally about your boundaries.

Another thing that helps eliminate miscommunication is to record phone or Skype conversations with your client. Of course, make sure you get there permission ahead of time. This technique reduces the possibility of your client putting their words in your mouth.

You might wonder if having clear boundaries will scare off new clients. Don’t worry! Most people like knowing the “rules” ahead of time. They want to be cooperative. However, it probably will deter controlling, demanding clients who don’t appreciate or value others. And that’s a good thing!

As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Business Coaching, provides leading-edge business building strategies for small business owners & entrepreneurs who wish to take their company to the next level.

Illustra Business Coaching
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS
This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.

You may also like:

Comment on Facebook