It can be tough to run a business that revolves around client appointments.
I know that some clients can be annoying, pushing the limits of our patience. None of my clients… they are all the sweetest. For real. But I have had my share of problematic prospective clients. The type that schedules an appointment and doesn’t show up. Yes, we’ve all had those...
There comes a point when we all just want to cry out - “Why can’t people just respect my time!?”
Well, good question. That’s what we’re here to answer today.
Okay. I will deal it to you straight. It’s not about your clients. It’s all about you. The only person in the world that you have control over is your very own self. As the professional in the relationship, it’s your job to set the tone. If you want your clients to respect you and your time, be an example. Only when you show respect for yourself and your clients… can you expect respect in turn.
Give what you want to receive.
Below you will find my 14 tips to get your clients to respect your time. But in actuality it’s 14 steps to show self-respect and respect to your clients. It sounds less exciting, but it’s way more effective.
Have set business hours and let your clients know them. Respect your business enough to have professional business hours. Your client should know when they can rely on you. Because consistency leads to respect and trust.
Respond promptly to phone-calls, texts, or emails. I hope this is obvious and no explanation is needed here.
If you can’t respond right away, be sure to set expectations and be upfront about when they can expect a reply. Say it on your voicemail, set up a basic email auto-responder, or send out a quick text. The main thing is to acknowledge that the other person exists and make them feel seen.
Don’t be “commitment phobic”. You thought fear of commitment only applies with dating or job searches? Well, guess what! I’ve met business owners who can’t commit to scheduling at a specific time. Don’t say - “Reach out to me tomorrow morning, I might have time when my child is at daycare.” Don’t act like you’re doing your clients a favor by letting them schedule an appointment with you. Your clients shouldn’t have to run after you. Remember that you’re running a professional business here! So just be honest with yourself and commit to an appointment at a time that is good for you.
Use an online calendar to have your clients schedule appointments. It feels more official and leaves no room for nagging. (I currently use Acuity Scheduling, in case you’re curious.)
Include a short form for a client or potential client to fill out when they book online. The more actions they take on the front end, the more invested they are in the work. The more invested they are, the more committed they become.
Don’t cancel appointments on your clients. Duh.
If you must reschedule, do so only on very rare occasions. Be sure to apologize and make it right.
Send out reminders before your appointments. You can use phone, email, or text reminders… Through my online calendar I have 3 email reminders set up to go out automatically 48 hours,12 hours, and 1 hour before the set appointment.
Start your appointments on time. It’s not okay not make your clients wait. It’s your job to respect your customers’ time. Show up for your clients at the time that you committed. Demonstrate that your work matters.
If you will be running late once in a while because of circumstances beyond your control, be sure to notify your clients ahead of time. Communication is key.
Finish your appointments on time. Going overtime shows a lack of respect and value for your time and the time of your client. It is possible to over-deliver with value and still keep to the pre-arranged time. When I was getting started coaching, I used a vibrating alarm clock to help me pace my time.
Warning: here’s the hard part… Even when your client is late - do your absolute best not to go over the allotted time. Doing so shows a lack of respect for your own time. It is also completely disrespectful to the next client who is waiting. Remember that your service is valuable and your clients will get out of it whatever they put in.
Give your clients your full and undivided attention for the time that they are in your presence. “Your presence is your present.”
Was this list too long?
Yes? So here is the thing to remember: It’s not about doing ALL OR NOTHING. Choose one thing to start with and then move on from there.
Was some of this list too basic for you?
Then pat yourself on the back. Celebrate and be grateful that you’re ahead of the game.
Because, friend, I can tell you that if you even follow half of these steps you are way way ahead of 99% of your competition.
So follow the list, be professional, and stand out proudly.