No matter how far along you are in your business, and how many clients and deals you have on the table, there is one thing that will always remain true: Stuff (and by stuff, I really mean sh#@) happens. You, dear business owner, have the arduous task of taking the bull by the horn and covering your tail. Daily.
Here are three quick ways to take the bull by the horns when dealing with clients:
Project Completion. You estimate that your client project will be completed on September 1. Tell your client that the expected completion date will be on September 6. Always allow yourself a five day barrier for the bad stuff to happen. Guess what? If you deliver sooner than expected, the client will be completely impressed – and you can dodge the disaster bullet.
Dealing with Missed Deadlines Caused by You. So, you missed your expected deadline. How can you soften the blow with the client? Of course, communication is key. But, what else? Offer a freebie, bonus service. Think of something to offer that won’t cause too much hassle on your end, but will be useful to your client. Let your client know that you apologize for the delay, that you value their business and will give them ABC Bonus Service. Clients are human just like us. Deadlines are important, but they also value great customer service and knowing that in a sea of clients, they matter.
Dealing with Client Delays Caused by Your Client. Make sure that your client contract specifies the items that your client must provide in order for you to do your part. Discuss these items with the client up front to make sure that the two of you are on the same page. Explain (in writing and verbally), that if they do not fulfill their responsibilities by a required date, then it will cause delays on your end. Most importantly, those delays shall not constitute a breach of contract.
You cannot control emergencies or unexpected situations, but you can get in front of them. A proactive business owner will see fewer days in court than a reactive one. Don’t just run a business, run a smart business.
Patrice N. Perkins is an attorney for creative entrepreneurs and Principal Attorney at Lifestyle Zen. Follow @mylifestylezen on Twitter for more legal tidbits. Every Friday, she answers your most burning small biz legal questions on #LZFREEBIEFRIDAY. Patrice regularly writes about small biz legal issues on her blog www.mylifestylezen.com.