I have a home based business, which means I either use my home phone, my cell phone, or have a dedicated business line. What this means is that I am sometimes (often) answering my cell or home phone in the evenings. Why? Because I (and I suspect a lot of us) have a loyalty to our clients. If they are friends on top of that, then it can really obscure the boundaries.
I love my clients, don’t get me wrong. But it means that I sometimes go way above and beyond for them. For instance, a client’s client emailed today asking if we could please explain to her assistant how to set up a task in their new project management system. There are videos and tutorials that will help teach that, but it was faster for me to do a quick five minute tutorial video on how to set up the tasks, versus logging into the project management system, searching and finding the exact tutorial the assistant needed, and sending it.
Ok, I really go above and beyond sometimes. Or so my client said.
Then tonight I received a phone call from a local client, quite late – but I had tried calling him twice earlier in the day. So, I answered the call. Now, I’m ok with a quick phone call or question, but when you tell me to call your partner, at 10 o’clock at night, to discuss setting up a local ad, which I know is not going to publish until Sunday now, I’m not going to jump through hoops, especially when I’m not on a retainer yet. When I asked “Do we normally talk/conduct business at 10pm at night?” I was told “well we’re busy during the day so a lot happens at night and gets discussed then.” That’s all fine and good, but again, I’m not even on a retainer yet so I’m not going to go out of my way for friend/sort of client, when taking his call was already above and beyond.
No, I don’t have a family that was interrupted by the call, and that shouldn’t matter. I have to remember to start setting, and keeping my own boundaries with my clients. Things like:
- Not answering clients’ calls after a certain time each day, unless they are paying for 24/7 service – which will cost them a LOT of money
- Setting that ‘end-of-day’ deadline for myself so I switch gears, have dinner, wind down, exercise, etc.
- Reminding my clients what my work hours are
- Switching my phone ringers off, or setting a message on my cell phone that if this is a business call I will return the call at 8am the next morning
I know I’m not alone in this, and loyalty is a good thing. But we do owe it to ourselves to keep the boundaries we have set for both ourselves and our clients, otherwise the client will learn that it’s okay to call at all hours of the night and expect us to answer.
Your Virtual Concierge is an Online Business Management company who also provides Virtual Assistant Services to small business owners and solo entrepreneurs in the health and wellness field. Call 888-268-6038 today if you need help setting, and keeping those boundaries, and clearing those tasks off your to-do list, or managing your day-to-day operations. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a 20-minute consultation.