Three Tips For Managing Client Expectations
As a new or even experienced freelancer, you may find yourself feeling the pressure of always having to be "on" or available for your clients. I'm here to tell you that is not the case. Your clients will only come to expect from you what you give to them. And while we all want to make our client's happy, setting unrealistic expectations will ultimately create stress and burn out for you.
I have three tips for managing client expectations that I'll share and they all have one key overarching theme: Communication.
As a one-person business, it is key to your success that you become an over communicator. Over communicate deadlines, deliverables, decisions... ANYTHING you want your client to have a clear understanding for during your work together. Here are three ways to manage client expectations.
Put It In The Scope Of Work
A scope of work (SOW) is a document that establishes a clear explanation of services and goals you'll provide to your client during and upon completion of your work. It outlines your services, deadlines, your rate and anything you want binding throughout the working relationship. It's a good place to set boundaries upfront with your client. If you only want to work between certain hours, put it in the SOW. If you have a family vacation planned and don't want to work on any projects during it, put it in the SOW. This establishes boundaries upfront and provides a reference point if you ever need to remind your clients of what you both agreed upon.
Need an example SOW? We have a customizable one in our free freelancer starter kit. Get it delivered straight to your inbox when you signup for our email list, here: Sign Up.
Get It In Writing
The best way to manage anyone's expectations is to get it in writing. This is especially the case if you come to a decision over the phone. (Pro tip: ANYTIME a decision is made or changed on a phone call/text/IM/DM, follow up right after with an email recap of your discussion to document the change.)
Think of emails as the best way to CYA (cover your 🍑). It's a simple and effective way to document any actions put in place and reference any decisions or changes made. When it comes to days you'll be unavailable, take it up a notch by sharing a calendar invitation with a reminder for you and your client.
Hold Yourself Accountable
I get it. We're all overachievers. We wouldn't be doing what we're doing if we weren't. But here's the bottom line: You have to hold yourself accountable to the measures you've put in place in order for anyone else to. So once you've communicated to a client that you're on vacation - stay on vacation. If you said you'd answer emails during certain hours - stick to those hours. The goal is to be a well-oiled machine, not an over-used malfunctioning one. And remember, your client is looking to you to set the pace for your relationship. Communicate expectations effectively and you should always have a happy client.