I don’t answer the phone after 4:00pm. I have normal work hours just like any other business.
After years of draining myself for very demanding clients, I learned that one of the best things I can do for myself, my business, and most importantly my family, is set realistic boundaries.
I can't burden myself with emails, texts, and phone calls that bleed over into my family time. I also can't and don't sit up in bed at night with my laptop funneling through emails and work. I need to be present for my family and I know I can’t do that without setting healthy boundaries.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years that I think you may be interested in adapting to your own business lifestyle.
Mindset Change. I had train our clients to truly think of their project as a team effort. When a demanding client believes for even one second that you're the only one touching their project, they can inadvertently begin to have unrealistic expectations and demands on you. On the flip side, if they believe there is a team effort (that includes them), they can begin to view design changes, strategy switch-ups, and new phases as an opportunity for you to convene with the team before making any harsh changes to their project.
I let my clients know, although I most likely am their point of contact I am in no way the only decision maker at the table.
That mindset helps them to not only consider the team's expertise in the field but also thoroughly consider late emails and new implementations that may change the trajectory of their project.
Auto-Response. This is an easy one that helps clients understand that it may take more than 5 minutes for you to respond to an email that was sent at 7:00pm.
Our auto-responder sets expectations of when they should hear back from us considering our hours of operation, holidays, and of course the content of the email. Some emails are quick… some are more involved than just a simple, “Okay that sounds like a plan". We try to be as personable as possible but at the same time, we need each client to understand and appreciate that they aren’t our only client.
Follow-up. This is the most important piece. I never want any of our clients to feel like they have been left in the dark or that they aren’t important to us. We make every effort to be efficient, timely, and personable in every interaction and transaction we have with them. Although a large portion of the process is automated, the most important portion of the process is personal. Their companies and organizations mean a lot to them and we want to make sure we are keeping that same spirit when engaging in communications.
Healthy boundaries doesn't mean being non-communicative or inaccessible.
Healthy boundaries means that our clients view our interactions in a healthy and professional light. We take their project seriously and we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to pour into each phase with the upmost effort. In order for us to do that, we can't cut corners in our personal life. When our home-life is in shambles, it will eventually spill over into our business. A healthy business owner is a productive and results driven business owner. Don't allow a demanding a client to ruin the flow of your business. Set boundaries and perform.
You're welcome ;)
Frechic Burton-Austin is the Brand Strategist and co-owner of CoCreativeCle.com and sole owner of C7Branding.com, an award winning small business company specializing in digital business identity solutions. Frechic creates marketing and branding strategies that allow business owners to reach their ideal clients everyday.