We spend so much time with our clients and their families, and we are in their homes A LOT! So sometimes that line between “friend” and “client” can get a little blurry. But you need to keep clear boundaries with your clients so the rules of engagement are professional and understood by both sides. That protects you AND your clients! Here are 4 boundaries I want you to be sure are in place right now:
1. Texting Rules
Most people find texting the easiest and quickest form of communication, so clients will definitely want to text you about the project. And that’s ok, if you are running late to a meeting. But, never make a design decision via text! If the client does text you an important answer, be sure to follow up with an email saying: “Just wanted to follow up on what we were discussing by text.” That way you have a record of what was agreed. And if you do start allowing texts, just remember that it’s up to you to NOT answer those texts in the off hours. Which leads us to…
2. Vacation Time
I give my clients plenty of notice before I take off on a vacation. I let them know where the project is in the cycle, who can answer questions while I’m gone, and exactly when I’ll be back. And then I DO NOT answer emails or phone calls while I’m gone. Let’s be honest, nothing we do could have an emergency so dire that it couldn’t wait until we’re back. You deserve your down time, just like everyone else does. So do not break your own rules on this one.
3. Late Night Messages
Whether it’s phone calls, emails, or texts, it’s never a good idea to answer your client when it’s “off hours.” She might want to get something off of her plate at 10pm, and that’s fine. But you do not need to respond. I find that if I ever do answer when I’m tired and it’s late, I can make mistakes or give the wrong info. That’s a very bad idea. If your client keeps pressing for an answer, tell her you’ll get back to her during business hours. But it’s best not to answer at all. Stay strong!
4. Personal Information
You are going to know FAR more about your clients and their home lives than you may want to. It’s just the nature of our business because we’re in their homes so often. However, don’t mistake that for a friendship. First of all, you and your team need to keep your eyes averted and your mouths closed when it comes to what you may see or hear in a client’s home. And most important of all, you should not EVER overshare your own personal stories and relationships. You may put your client in a very awkward position. Think about it like your hairdresser. When you get your hair done, it’s nice to give him or her some info and share a bit of your day. But it can feel uncomfortable if that person talks and talks and talks about their personal life. Don’t be that person. Keep it professional.
Remember that you not only have to set those boundaries, you have to stick to them!! If you bend the rules, someone is going to step over the line. And it will be really hard to get back to where you need to be.
You should set your client’s expectations up front on how you’re going to communicate and how the project will be run. Download my FREE Guide to Setting Client Expectations here!