Are your clients overloading you with last-minute requests? Do you find yourself spending too much time working on clients needs and allowing it to take over your time so much that you’re not getting things done? Or are client demands making you feel resentful and taken advantage of? Then it’s time to set some clear boundaries within your business.
You most likely know what your ideal boundaries are, but have you made them clear to your clients? Chances are you know exactly what rules you want them to play by but have a lack of confidence in making sure your clients are aware of the rules. Most likely the reason you allow this to happen is that you are afraid that if you stand firm in your policies, your clients will be upset and possibly even take their business elsewhere.
As it applies to a coaching businesses and the work we do with our clients, boundaries become very important . You want to be very clear with your clients up front as to how much availability you have for them between sessions, how long it will take for you to get back to them, and when you actually are available to them.
Over the years, I’ve developed very strong boundaries in my business which have helped it runs smoothly. My clients are aware of the rules from the beginning of our relationship, and that has contributed to my businesses growth. In this article, I want to share some of the boundaries within the way I run my business so you can do the same.
Here are 4 ways that you can gracefully set boundaries in your business:
1. Create Clear Policies: This may seem simple, but most business owners don’t set forth clear policies for running their company. Whether you offer products or services, someone is probably going to ask you to customize something to fit their needs, or request some type of deviation. They may want a more flexible payment plan, a reduced investment, evening or weekend appointments, or something else that accomodates them more so than you.
In most cases, it’s best to firmly direct them to your terms and policies page and stand firm with your own terms. Occasionally you may see fit to make the rare exception, but in most cases, it will be better for your business and sanity to not acquiesce. If a client gets the impression that you are a pushover, it will be an uncomfortable relationship for the duration of your business dealings with them.
How do you politely yet firmly say “no” to client requests? Simply explain that their request is unfortunately not a fit for your current policies, and refer them to your page. It wouldn’t be fair to your other clients and customers to make any exceptions. Your ideal clients will understand and accept your terms, and they will appreciate you for modeling how to handle their own clients who request an exception to the rule.
2. Put up a front: Create a [email protected] email address for clients to use, and allow your support team to intercept your mail so they can handle client requests. I tell my assistant, Rachel, that she is the manager of the stress department. It’s not a good use of our energy to have to handle client requests, or even occasional complaints. Delegating these tasks is a positive strategy for time and stress management. Spending too much time fielding phone calls and e-mail takes away from the time I can spend working on programs, projects and business building activities.
This doesn’t mean I’m completely disconnected. If my team needs my input or if there is an issue they need me to address, I’m only an office away. They know what is within their scope of power to handle, and when to come to me for support.
3. Communicate Clearly: It’s not enough to simple create policies. You need to make sure you are clear about what these policies are and that your clients understand them. If you don’t explain your policies in your contract, create a policies and procedures outline you can offer clients. You can even give this outline to new clients as part of a welcome package if you don’t utilize contracts or agreements.
While it’s up to you to create the boundaries of your business, it’s also up to you to ensure that you are letting your clients know about these policies and be willing to respond to concerns they may have. Answering questions and providing a general idea of why you have created the policy can make your clients more willing to accept the rules you’ve laid out.
4. Respect your clients and their boundaries: While you need to set up boundaries in your business to make sure things run smoothly, you also want to be aware of your clients needs. Ask your clients about their policies and procedures for the same areas where you are setting limits. If a client has certain requests that are vital for them, consider adopting their policies for your day-to-day relationship. Good relationships are based on both give-and-take and compromise. Relationships work best when they are conducted with mutual respect and understanding.