One of the things I’m probably a little too uptight about is time. More specifically, my time! I hate wasting time or letting my time unnecessarily be eaten up for no apparent reason. And where I struggle a lot with this, is with clients. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s always beautiful and sunny that makes people in Los Angeles want to linger longer, share more stories and squeeze in another joke. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I have seen hours of my time slip away because of side conversations and random randomness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that the best way to keep a client is to build a relationship with them . And because I travel to my clients, this is is always done in person for me. With that being said, so many of clients get a little too comfortable with me and our conversations will digress onto other topics unrelated to the business at hand. And what happens? 2 hours just turned into 6. Not very responsible, I’ll admit, but the reward — if we’re looking on the bright side of things — their business and referrals. Some of you may say, well in that case, go ahead and give them 6 hours. But the truth of the matter is, I may keep their business and earn someone else’s, but 6 hours (which is 25% of the day) doesn’t leave much time for other important things. What else could be just as important as a client? Uh, other clients? Working on the business? Tweaking my marketing efforts? Sleeping? Just to name a few. And if I give a client 25% of my day, then I’m allowing that person to only monopolized my time, but also my business. And one of the first rules I learned about being in business was never let one client dominate your business to the point they are your business. Because when they leave, so does your business.
But I’ve gotten better with managing my clients on my schedule. Because I have to responsible for my time, even when they’re unaware of it. And it’s made a huge improvement, because now I can better assess where and how to spend my time with them when I’m done meeting with them.
- For starters, I tell them before we meet what time I have to leave. That way they get an idea how much we’ll be spending together and better helps them organize their questions for that meeting.
- I set my alarm. Oh, hell yes, I do. It’s rude. It’s loud. And disruptive. And that’s the point. When I say I need to leave by 3;00pm, I need to show them I mean it. So the alarm goes off as an audio reminder. They still have questions? Email them to me.
- And since I brought it up, I make email the first point of communication. Let’s meet for the pertinent stuff, email all the other, please. That way I break the habit of having to meet for every little whim.
- Keep in-person meetings down to once a month, if necessary. I tried this with one client, and it went over superbly. For the secondary meeting, we held a Google HangOut session which shaved off a total of an hour from our normal meetings and I loved that. Not too mention, gas is still over $4 for gallon here in L.A. Let’s save the road trips for something more meaningful, right?
It was suggested to me to charge for in-person meetings to deter those clients who feel they need to meet all the time. I’m not comfortable with that yet, but there may come a point sooner or later. I figure if someone’s paying for my services, I’m not going to nickle and dime them along the way. No one enjoys that and very few, if anybody, returns for that kind of abuse. But I’ve found the strategies mentioned above very helpful thus far. I get my time back. And that’s what I really wanted. Yes, I want to meet with my clients — work in the business — but, I also want to be able to work on the business.