Time Wise Clients

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.

 

 

Sometimes Our Efforts Are Small

A woman gets on the bus carrying two reusable cloth bags; one bag is filled with chocolate candy bars, the other is filled with holiday cards.  Once on board, she pays her fare then begins to ask every person riding the bus would they like to purchase a holiday card or a chocolate candy bar for one dollar.  Some people she asks in English, others she asks in Spanish.  But she asks everyone.  Most people decline, but some accept.  Regardless of whether someone bought a candy or card, she says the same thing with a smile on her face “Happy holidays to you.”  She juggles the bags and money between her hands steadying herself as the bus is motion never breaking her smile.  Although the majority of the riders on the bus choose not to buy anything from her, she carried on more conversations than transactions.  People were curious about why she was selling.  Was she selling for her child’s school to raise money?  Was she selling as part of community fundraiser?  No.  Her children were out of school for winter break and she didn’t belong to any community clubs.  She had wanted to earn a little extra money this holiday season to ensure she could afford to buy her kids something nice for Christmas, but didn’t have time for a second job and she had to rely o mass transportation to get around.

She took the bus everyday, worked around people and she could speak English and Spanish.  It may not have seemed like much, but she took what she could do, used skills she already had and employed her environment.

Sometimes our efforts are small because our desires are small.  But small efforts can lead to big impacts we could never imagined.  But we gotta make the effort and put ourselves out there <— insert cliché here, right?  We’re two weeks out from the new year and this is about the time people pretend to get serious about making life changes and commitments.  Just make one in 2014: Make the effort.

The 5 Most Important Apps on SmartPhone To Utilize Regularly

Your Office/Document Manager/ Adobe Reader

Your Calendar 

Your Contacts

Email

Camera

  1. Your Document/ Office App/ My Files — Depending on what phone you have, it may be called something different, but every smartphone has some kind of Document upload/download/storage function.   And you should use it.  It makes sending and saving presentations, outlines and plans easier on the go.  And if the font is too small, just enlarge the screen to get a better view.
  2. Your Calendar App – Every activity, every meeting, every block of time that you have verbally spoken for and agreed to should be listed and scheduled in your calendar on your smartphone.  The last ‘oops’ you need to make is double booking yourself or accidentally forgetting you have something else scheduled on that day too.
  3. Contacts – What’s nice about the Contacts App on our phones these days is that it allows us to hold just about everyone’s detailed information under their name.  Everything from their work and home lines, to their email addresses, postal address, web addresses, fax numbers, their position and titles, birthdays, anniversaries and even a space for a note to remind you where and how you met them.  Utilize these fields.  As much of them as you can. But we sure to protect your phone and their information is a password lock.
  4. Email (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) – If you’ve waited to respond to an email till you were at your desk, then you were waiting too long.  You should not feel uncomfortable about reading and writing on your phone.  Emailing has gotten easier and quicker now that you can send whatever — with an attachment to whomever — as soon as possible.  And don’t think you can’t write lengthy emails either.  That’s what the text-to-speech button is for.  Keeps your hands free while dictating your message.
  5. Camera – This is by far my most favorite app.  I never know when and where I’ll find the inspiration for an idea, or notion or a really cool picture to add to my blog site.  Also, taking pictures of — whatever — allows me to capture a visual I can compare an idea to or be stored as a note for later.  Say you’re looking for a new business office to lease, but don’t have a pen and paper easily accessible to write down the information.  Snap a  picture of it while you’re passing by and now you have the name of the real estate company, the address of the building and the contact number to call inquire.  Just that easy.

I like to think that ‘smartphones’ are aptly named because, when used wisely, they allow us to accomplish so much more when we’re away from our desks or computers and still handle business.  Mind you these, are just five REALLY beneficial apps for anyone time crunched business owner.  But there other good apps out there.  What are your favorites?