<![CDATA[In recent months, I've had a number of clients signing on for my services, and and nearly an equal number of clients leaving. The reasons varied, but the common theme was that expectations weren't met. Either on their side or on mine.
When clients come to me, they sign a contract, and give their billing information, preferably a credit card I keep on file (encrypted) in my safe. The contract they sign details the parameters of our arrangement. The last thing we need with a new client is a surprise.
Reasons why clients came aboard in the last few months?
- Referred from a current client. (each referral from a previous or current client is still with me)
- The service they needed that I offered.
- They liked the price I quoted.
- Liked that I contacted them when they visited my website – technology at work – it made them feel more valued as a client/potential client.
The reasons why clients left in recent months:
- Economy, they were forced to do more for themselves because of decreased income.
- Expectations weren’t realized – on their part or mine
- Work was outside of what the contract stated
All of us expect to gain and lose clients, its the nature of business. When a client leaves due to expectations, we need to examine the underlying causes. In my case, there were two factors.
First, the client decided to expand their operation hours, which is outside of mine, and outside of the hours stated in the contract they signed. I work from 6am to 4pm MST. I won’t be available if you suddenly decide to keep late hours, and you’re on the West Coast. Your 6pm is then my 7pm. Nope, sorry, that can’t happen. The other factor was that I don’t work weekends. I’m not on call unless you arrange it well in advance and we write it into the contract. A camping trip recently was inundated with text messages for alerts of voice-mails – even though calls were no longer supposed to come to me after I left for the day (with plenty of notice of the early departure!)
To be honest, another factor is that I’m having to visit the doctor, and physical therapist regarding my knee, and the rehab process. I know some don’t appreciate that I must take time to do this, even though I’ve scheduled it for the end of my work day, but when I’m working till 4pm and the appointment is at 3:45pm, and you’ve suddenly decided I’m needed in a meeting – but didn’t tell me until an hour before the meeting, I’m sorry, but I won’t be available.
When you then change the parameters of our work arrangement and I’m suddenly on commission when I don’t do commission, that’s another reason why clients leave. When you decide to expand your hours and I’m not available, that’s another reason why some clients leave.
The client-contractor relationship works both ways. My responsibility is to work within the contract, to give the best services I can – that you’ve contracted for, in the most efficient way possible. And to, if I’m going to be out of the office, give you as much advance notice as possible. If, even after that notice, you’ve got something coming up urgently, unless you plan to pay for my missed appointment (doctor/physical therapist or whatever) please don’t expect I’ll drop everything and do what you need. Your responsibility is to stay within our contract, if you feel you want more, talk to me and we’ll amend the contract. Don’t suddenly change the way you want things done, or the process by which I’m paid. I don’t do commissions. I’m sorry. I’m your virtual assistant, not sales person. If you want me at a meeting, try to give me as much notice as possible. An hour is not enough. Especially if you need the meeting recorded with notes. I must block out that time and give other clients notice.
I love working with you, lets all work hard to make it a great relationship, on both sides.
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