Let’s talk about boundaries and setting client expectations.
Setting boundaries is something I’m constantly working on. I believe that as creative entrepreneurs, as designers, we often want to please people at all costs to keep everyone happy to the point where they step all over us. As a service-based business, my client experience is everything, and we do our best to provide the most amazing customer service possible, however, even then it can go unnoticed. In this episode, I tell my own client stories, share steps that I follow in my own business to set boundaries and set expectations, and what I do when a client pushes back.
As designers, we would not have a job without our clients, however, some clients can drive us crazy! (This is just a fact in any business – especially service-based businesses). While we as design professionals are trying to put together the perfect combination of texture, layers, and space, we also have to deal with our client’s input, some more than others, and any other concerns they have. Of course, our first reaction as a service business and people pleasers is to make the client happy at all costs, but sometimes the cost outways the benefit.
In the past, I have put my clients’ happiness above my own peace of mind, and it cost a bit of my sanity, I lost the ability to be present with my family and friends, my ability to unwind and find a balance between work and life because it just left me emotionally and mentally drained. I think that we’ve all done this, gone the extra mile at our own detriment.
As much as the client matters, we as design professionals are not saving lives, and we have to think of ourselves too. We run a business, not a charity, and we are not personal assistants. We went into business most likely to be creative, MAKE MONEY, and because we wanted flexibility! So setting boundaries isn’t a bad thing. It allows both parties to separate work and personal life.
Through the episode I go into further detail about the following tips that have helped me set my client expectations and establish boundaries:
- I do NOT provide my personal cell phone number (Our team emails and the office phone is good enough).
- My fee structure is non-negotiable (it changes as the scope changes but I am not cutting deals).
- I show my clients my contract during the consultation (and bring it up during our discovery call).
- We communicate our preferred method of communication early on (unless there is a pipe-bursting emergency cell phones are not to be called).
- We are open, honest, and consistent with our communication and let our clients know when we should be expected on site.
- Pre-selecting E.V.E.R.Y S.I.N.G.L.E aspect of the design early on and presenting the entire design to our clients secures a more reassured sign-off from our clients! (We have fewer flip-flopping minds).
Setting boundaries with clients is really helped by setting expectations EARLY AND OFTEN. You have to vocalize how you want your clients to experience your service and process from the get-go. The best way to set boundaries is through the tiny yet important details that go through in your communication and how you manage “crises” that come up.
I hope this helps you set boundaries and find a way to create a work-life balance.