Setting Boundaries & Expectations with Your Clients
Have you had a client that called at all hours of the night needing something? Or one that insisted on getting your personal phone number because they just didn't like to do email? Or the client that consistently got back to you several days late and then got upset when the project was delayed? Or the one that didn't know how to tell you that they didn't like something until the project was over and they gave you a 2 star review.
I know you've had those clients. We all have!
And I also know that if you’ve worked with clients for very long, you know the need to set and stick to good boundaries and expectations from the beginning.
Without good boundaries and expectations, projects have many more delays, clients get confused and frustrated, you get confused and frustrated, and your relationship with your client can become strained, if not confrontational. Not to mention you’ll likely want to pull your hair out at some point.
But you don’t have to experience any of that! All it takes is a little forethought and planning. We all need a little structure, and our clients are no different.
In today’s episode we explore how to go about setting, communicating, and sticking to boundaries and expectations with clients.
Click below to listen to this week's episode:
In today's episode:
- What Boundaries Should You Have?
- When clients can expect to be able to reach you and/or receive a response from you.
- How they should communicate with you (phone, text, email, messenger app, project app, etc.).
- The exact scope of the project - what you will and won’t do.
- How professional or relaxed your relationship can be.
- If you work in person - what the protocol is for seeing each other in public. (Especially important for all you coaching and counselors out there.)
- What Expectations Should You Set?
- The level of professionalism, tone, respect you expect and will give.
- Response time on your side of the project and on their side of the project.
- How to send you files/collateral (mail, email, dropbox, form, etc.).
- A timeline for the project and how they can help keep the project on track (plus what happens when they miss deadlines).
- Payments - how to make them, when they are considered late, what happens if payments are late (late fees, project delays, contract in jeopardy, etc.).
- Meetings - promptness, advance notice for need to reschedule/cancel, policy for no shows or late cancellations (such as no refunds or no show fee).
- How often they can expect to hear from you throughout the project (weekly updates, only if needed, etc.).
- How to Share Your Boundaries & Expectations:
- Written in your contract! <-- This is the #1 place I recommend putting all your boundaries and expectations.
- Written in your welcome packet (even if this is electronic).
- Written in your emails and messages throughout the project - reiterate the boundaries and expectations often.
- Written in the email confirmation after they schedule a meeting and in all reminder emails.
- Verbally in meetings - including your consultation and first meeting.
- If possible, visually in picture or graphic form (symbols, flow charts, etc.).
- Tips for Making it Stick with Your Clients
- Share them often! It’ll seem like too much, but it won’t be. They’ll still forget sometimes. Plus this reinforces the boundaries and expectations in your mind so they'll become second nature.
- Keep it simple - make it easy to remember for you and your clients.
- Stick to it yourself! If you waiver, your clients will take advantage (consciously or unconsciously).
Today's Permission Slip:
Each episode I give you a permission slip - a reminder to give yourself permission to run your business and live your dream life on your own terms. Today's is to give yourself permission to protect your heart, time, and energy by setting (and sticking to) good boundaries and expectations with your clients.
Feel free to download these images (square above and tall below) and use as your screensaver, print it out and put it on your desk, or even share it on social media. All I ask is that if you share it, you tag me - @chelseabfoster - so I can support you and cheer you on this week!
To download either right click (Windows), cmd+click (Mac), or tap & hold (cell phone). Then select "Save" or "Save As" (whatever option you have).