We all have times when things just happen and we have to reorganise our diaries at very short notice, but some people just seem to live that way and have a strong tendency to reschedule their meetings.
Do you have clients like that?
In all fairness this isn’t that much of an issue when you’re not busy but once you have a nice steady flow of work this last minute rescheduling behaviour can really mess things up for you. So how do you manage it?
Here’s the 4 steps to ironing out those tricky client behaviours:
Step 1: When you on-board them as a client (this is the point you both agree to work together) you need to lay out some gentle rules so they understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.
I know this sounds a little harsh and confrontational but it can be done in a very warm, soft way that still makes the point.
I usually say something along the lines of “I’m blessed to have a practice full of wonderful clients but the flipside to this is that I don’t have much space in my diary to reschedule meetings, so my expectation is that we will stick to the day/time we agree.”
I’ve never had anyone moan yet and they always seem totally appreciative of the situation.
Step 2: Have a clause in your T&Cs that re-iterates step 1 above. How you word this will depend on your type of business and how you charge but in a nutshell you want to say something along the lines of “any meetings postponed or cancelled with less than X days’ notice will be charged at £Y.”
You still get to use your discretion as to whether you do charge them, but it underlines your stance about not rescheduling at short notice.
Step 3: If you know you have a client who is particularly prone to messing you around then I strongly suggest you contact them several times leading up to the meeting day to remind them they do have a meeting with you.
Step 4: If you have a current client, on T&Cs that don’t include the clause I mentioned in Step 2 you can ask them to sign the new reversion, or, simply talk to them about the impact it’s having.
I look at it this way…when you work with a client you are effectively working in partnership together to deliver the desired outcome. For this to work well both parties need to fully respect the other, and also be fully committed to the process.
Clients who consistently cancel at the last minute are not showing much respect for your precious time, and possibly a lack of commitment to the project.
You can choose not to say anything and get very annoyed about it, or, you can gently but clearly point out that you can’t keep rescheduling at the last minute as it negatively impacts their project and your business.
You do have control of this situation as you control your reaction to it. You have the option to put in place an improved client management process or carry on as you are.
Which one is it going to be?