Behind The Blog: Creating Boundaries For Your Clients
Posted March 8, 2023 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments
Creating boundaries for your clients and sticking to them is one of the most complex parts of being a business owner.
You may not even realize that this is part of being a business owner, and if that’s the case, you need to stick around and read the rest of this article.
First, let’s define boundaries. Specifically, boundaries regarding a relationship between a client and a business.
For the purpose of this post, boundaries are expectations for behavior for yourself and your clients that you will and will not allow.
For example, despite working from home I keep regular business hours for responding to emails. Consulting clients that work with me know that an email sent at 7 pm on a Tuesday won’t be answered until the next day. They also know I won’t be responding to weekend messages.
When I am emceeing or speaking at an event, I am working and representing that charity or business. My clients know I will not be drinking, I will be dressed appropriately, and I will always be professional.
I have a price list drawn up for the services I offer, and it’s important to me to keep the exact same pricing for everyone for fairness and ethics. When businesses approach me and inquire about guest posting they all get the same price list.
More than half the time, they return to me with a suggested fee of 50% of what I asked.
My response is always the same “My prices are firm. Please keep me in mind if your budget changes.”
Those three examples above are examples of setting boundaries for you and your clients.
Are there times when exceptions must be made to the boundaries you’ve created?
In all likelihood, yes, but it’s up to you as the business owner to decide WHEN and IF you allow this to happen.
And you NEED to be aware that once you make an exception it’s up to you to let the client know that it’s a one-time occurrence AND be prepared to have a conversation with other clients about why you won’t do the same thing for them.
As a business owner, your expectations for yourself and your clients WILL change.
Perhaps a new season in life will mean you have less time and can no longer respond in 24 hours to emails.
Maybe a bad experience with a client has shown you that you need to create new boundaries.
Whatever the cause for the change is, you must educate your clients clearly and professionally about what they can expect moving forward.
If the catalyst for change was a negative experience I have some advice for you.
DO NOT post a large rant about a specific awful experience and name names on your social media. Doing this will likely make you feel better, but I promise it will cause you to lose business, and to be blunt, it’s unprofessional.
DO NOT make a big public post listing vague details about a bad experience, and then list all the things you will change moving forward, so it never happens again. It’s wise to skip getting personal and name-dropping, BUT doing it this way means that numerous clients will be left wondering, “is it me they’re talking about” and the result will still be the same…a loss of business.
DO NOT rant about how hard you work and how underappreciated you are. You’ll get sympathy from friends, but clients will feel awkward and uncomfortable and likely left thinking, “Well, isn’t this what I pay her for?”
So what SHOULD you do when you need to inform your clients of new boundaries (or set boundaries when you never have before)?
Make a public post or email saying, “These last few months have been a season of growth and change for our business. We are so thankful for your support and look forward to moving forward into the future with every one of you. We wanted to take this time to share with you a few policy changes we’ve made to ensure we have clear communication and expectations moving forward.”
Follow this with a clear list of what your clients can expect from you moving forward.
- We will respond to emails within three days.
- Our pricing will be firm. A list of our services and new pricing is attached.
- Phone calls and messages will not be answered after 4 pm or on weekends.
- Exception: When we have an evening or weekend event
- Our new payment policies are as follows: LIST POLICY HERE
Recently we’ve had a lot of growth on our Facebook page, which while excellent, has resulted in a need for new boundaries for my readers and followers.
Instead of screenshotting and sharing the mean comments that caused people to be blocked or ranting about people telling me how I SHOULD be thinking and responding to their comments, I created the post below and pinned it to the top of our page.
The post is professional and respectful and lets both me and my readers/followers know what to expect.
I also have a mission statement and guarantee on this site so that readers know what they will see when they stop by.
If you’re starting a new business or brand, NOW is the time to create that list of firm pricing and expectations.
If you’ve been a brand for a while and just now realize you’ve never done this…that’s okay.
No time like the present to get it done.
Trust me, spending a little time on this now will save you a lot of trouble in the future!
If you need help growing your business or building your brand, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to support you with your goals.
Photos Krystal Brewer Photography