How to Help Your Clients Value Your Time
Some mornings I have that pithy saying go through my head: when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. This can be especially true when - as a self-employed trainer without the protections of an employer to cushion you from an industry or client's ups and downs - you find yourself suddenly at a loose end.
Why? Your client has cancelled at the last minute. This happens too often and you start to wonder about putting food on the table, paying that pesky land rates or electricity bill. As a solo flyer you might start feeling a little vulnerable.
Don't. You are a business and your time is valuable. From your first contact with a new client, whether they be a company or an individual, ensure that your time is respected. After all, even if you do sit around waiting for them, you don't. You're busy, you're in demand, your time is valuable. Repeat after me.
The proposal you offer your client should ideally include a line about cancellations. Mine for example, state that lessons should be cancelled by 10:00AM the working day before the scheduled lesson, otherwise the full cost of the lesson is due. Once it's there in black and white, and your client signs off on your proposal, you're in a position to enforce it.
How you enforce it is, of course, up to you. I find that if a client calls to cancel because they "have too much work at the moment", my sympathy is a little low. Our workflow is something we are responsible for managing, and if my client only realises late (before that 10:00AM mark) that there's too much work? Sorry, not my problem. However, if my client calls to say there's too much work on because his manager just brought a new project and dropped it on his desk / there's an unannounced audit / some other unforeseeable event has occurred, then I express sympathy and don't charge. Likewise for family emergencies.
It's a fine balancing act - retaining positive client relations whilst ensuring your income remains secure - but if you operate from this starting point of valuing and protecting your time, you'll find your own unique way through to your clients doing the same.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!
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