You know, as an entrepreneur, your professionalism and boundaries and how you show up are absolutely crucial to your success. Let me give you an example of how much it matters…
For the past 3 weeks I’ve been trying to get my window air conditioner cleaned and installed professionally. You’d think it would be done by now, right? Here is the most excellent example of how to lose your clients and mess up your reputation as an entrepreneur.
The first company I called is a husband and wife team. Great, I think, I get to support a small business, which I love to do. They’re extremely busy at this point in the season, so I book my appointment with the woman, about 10 days in advance.
The day comes… and nothing. I wait 30 minutes. I figure, hey, maybe it’s traffic or they’re finishing up with someone else. Zip. Not a word. No text. No call.
About another hour later I notice the clock. I call the woman. No answer, so I leave a voice mail. No response. I try again about a half hour later. He’s now 2 hours late. She answers: “Oh, didn’t he call you? He said he was going to call you. He’s caught up with a client and he’s going to be late. Is this still going to work for you? (at that point I could still say yes). I’ll have him call you.” And she explains that this client is taking way longer than her husband had expected.
No call. Nothing.
One more hour goes by. I call the office number yet again. She picks up. “Oh, he still didn’t call you? I told him to call you. He said he’s about to be on his way to you.”
At this point, I had to leave for a speaking gig.
I never hear from them again. No apology. No attempt to offer me a discount. Nothing. WOW.
I call another couple of companies. One of them I can’t reach and can’t leave a voice mail (really??).
Next one I call says sure, he can come tomorrow. That was today. Same scenario. Incommunicado until he’s 2 hours late and texts me to say he’s on his way. “Sorry, I just finished a emergency call. Right now I am coming to your place is OK?”
I am seriously just floored. This to me is bizarre behaviour from an entrepreneur.
No respect for me as a person. No respect for my time. No communication at all until they’re so ridiculously late that I can no longer have them provide the service they promised. I don’t care how good the service might have been. For them to treat me that way is ridiculous.
So what can we learn here?
HOW TO SHOW UP POWERFULLY FOR YOUR CLIENTS AND YOUR BUSINESS
Do NOT keep your clients waiting. I had a coach who routinely kept me waiting. It wasn’t too long, only 1-3 minutes, but hey, I’m paying for that time and waiting by my phone! BIG TIP: Do NOT book your clients back to back. You know that doctor’s office where the lineup never ends? Yeah that. Don’t be that. Scheduling people on top of one another is disrespectful for your clients and also to YOU. Do I want to get you after you just had a super intense call with someone else and haven’t had a chance to breathe in between? No way!
Don’t make a habit of rescheduling your clients. I had a coach who did this with me. She kept rescheduling me because things were coming up in her personal life. I lost the momentum, felt disconnected from her, and felt like she didn’t care about me. My trust for her dissipated, and even though I showed up and did all the work, I got dismal results. That was the icing on the cake and why I would never hire her again or refer her to anybody. I get that legitimate circumstances do come up but I will NEVER reschedule my private clients unless whatever is going on will interfere with my ability to deliver my services. For example, my neighbour’s house got flooded and the reconstruction of their basement one day was so noisy that I had no choice but to reschedule.
Follow up! Honestly, most people are poor at any kind of follow-up, if they do it at all. I’ve worked with coaches who are brilliant at follow-up and ones who are the opposite. There is nothing like putting your heart on your sleeve in an email requesting support… and not receiving any response. Also, with your sales conversations, if you aren’t following up, you’re showing your potential client they can’t trust you or rely on you. I’ve been working on a new follow-up system. I’ve gotten so busy at times that I let emails from potential clients fall through the cracks and that is just never good. Create a system that works and delegate whatever you can. That’s my lesson of the hour right now. I do well at this most times but when it gets busy, I drop the ball. So we’re streamlining my follow-up technology and process to make sure nobody falls through the cracks no matter how busy I get.
Have clear boundaries with your clients. I record all my client sessions and in my client agreements, it says you will receive your recordings by at least 2 business days after your session. Usually I get them out the same day. Sometimes it really does take the 2 business days. I’ve created a better system for that too. A simple calendar pop-up notification at the end of each client day. Then I don’t forget.
If you mess up, take responsibility, apologize and make amends. Am I perfect? Of course not. I’ve been late with my recordings in the past. Sometimes the technology didn’t record it properly, and because of it I’ve gifted them with another $500 session. I’ve been late with my clients a couple of times, so I gave them extra time to make up for it. I want my clients to feel like they matter, and like I care about them, because I do. If these air conditioner technicians had just called me ahead of time and let me know something has come up and they may not make it in time, and given me the choice of whether to reschedule or hang in there, I would’ve felt a lot better about them. I would’ve just rescheduled immediately. But now here I am with hotter temperatures coming and there’s no way I’m going to hire either of these guys to do the job.
Have a professional phone/text manner and voice mail, and give it personality. When I call a business, I expect to hear “Hello, [business name], this is [name] speaking, how may I help you?” Or something like that. Not “Yeah?” Or “Hello?” If you don’t have voice mail, get it. If you have voice mail, do yourself a big favour and listen to it as if you were a client calling your business. Does it inspire you to work with you? Does it make you feel good about calling? Or is it just some generic boring “You’ve reached [name], Please leave your name and number”.
If you want awesome clients, you’ve got to be a great container for clients.
If you want to be well known and successful as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to show up fully.
I’m not saying you have to be perfect. Just show up! Do your best. Take your business seriously and don’t cheat your clients or leave them hanging. They need you to be present, take responsibility for what you’re offering, and be reliable. You get to set the terms and your client hours in your client agreements and your calendar and then you need to stick to those terms.
By the way, how you show up for your clients… do that AS a client too. All of these tips can be applied to you as a client. Are you doing the homework your mentor gives you? Are you implementing what you learn? How can you show up more fully for yourself, your mentors, your healers, your spiritual teachers and your business?
What one thing can you do this week to show up more fully in your business? Share on the blog if you’re willing. It will help you to be more accountable and get the job done. 😉 See you next week.
Lots of Love & Blessings,
Brenda MacIntyre – Medicine Song Woman
If you’ve enjoyed this SWEET Success article, you can go get your free Medicine Bundle for Your Business, and a subscription to my SWEET Success Soundbytes, videos and ezine at SuccessShaman.com. I’m Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman. Blessings of sweet success to you. Until next time, or as we say in the Ojibwe language, ba ma pii.