How to Set Client Expectations That Stick

If you want to stay in business (and stay sane), it’s vital that you establish client expectations right up front. But how do you do that, without feeling like you’re rattling off a list of do’s and don’ts?

First, you always want to start with a quality contract that outlines the scope of services your client will receive as well as how you’ll deal with overcharges, ownership of work, disputes and other factors. I recommend a professionally-developed contract template you can customize for each client or project.

Another big factor in managing client expectations has to do with how you onboard clients. You want your relationship to get off on the right foot by wowing them with the systems you have set up. You need to have automations set up so the new client receives something from you right after hitting the “buy” button.

One of the things she should receive is your How I Work document. This is your client’s guide to your business and lets her know what to expect throughout her relationship with you. You can grab a downloadable template for this document below, but here are some things you need to focus on.

Much of this information you’ll have talked about before, and some of it is probably in your contract too. But it’s nice to have this information handy and in one place for future reference.

More About You

Even if you’re a B2B service provider, people like to work with other people. Humanize yourself a bit, letting your clients know where you live, who your VIPs are at home and what you do when you’re not working. This gives you more common ground to work from and something to chat about. Business doesn’t have to be all business.

How to Communicate

Many business owners are shunning the inbox these days. Email is a time-suck and it’s easy for email threads to get lost. If you prefer to communicate in a project management tool like Trello or a communication tool like Slack or Voxer, let you clients know up-front. Then make it really easy for them by including links and setting up channels for them.

Your Work Hours

Whether you’re working during nap times, after your day job or are full time in your business, make sure your clients know the best times to reach you and when you’ll be completing the work. This helps avoid frustration over delayed response times and deadline assignments.

Where to Find Information

Chances are you’re creating something for your clients--whether that’s copy or website pages, email funnels or photographs. Make sure your clients know exactly where to find everything you’re creating for them. Include links to Google folders or Dropbox or anywhere else you’ll store information and files for them.

How Payment Works

Every business works just a little bit differently, and it’s likely you had this conversation before you began working together. However, it’s nice to have this in writing in case there’s any question. Do your invoices come at the beginning of the month or the end of the month? Will you be billing by the hour or by the project? Spell this out explicitly for your clients and be sure to include how you handle overcharges and work that’s outside the scope of your contract.

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