Setting boundaries with clients for better peace of mind

Updated Jan 3, 2022
Photo: theilr/FlickrPhoto: theilr/Flickr

The traditional 9 to 5 job is becoming harder to find as technology has allowed individuals to stay connected to work 24/7.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing as multitasking can cause productivity to drop and becoming overworked can lead to stress and a higher risk of health issues. Yet setting boundaries with customers can be a good way to make sure you still have time to yourself and don’t feel taken advantage of.

If you’ve found yourself answering customers’ every beck and call no matter the time or day, check out these tips on how to limit your relationships with clients.

List clear expectations

Oftentimes a client is only a problem if you let them. Because it is your business, you have control over how your clients treat you. It is hard for them to know what is appropriate if you do not set the boundaries from the beginning.

If you prefer that they contact you via email, tell them that and don’t give them your cell phone number if you do not want them contacting you that way. Also, if a client is causing your meetings to run over and making you late to other business engagements, make it clear you only have a set amount of time to speak with them.

Being clear upfront will spare hurt feelings later. If you have a policy where you charge for meetings that go over, be explicit so that they are aware, rather than blindsiding them with fee afterwards.

Set business hours

It sounds so obvious, but many times technology can make you feel guilty for not being constantly available to your clients. While there will sometimes be emergencies that require your immediate attention, this should be the exception, not the norm.

Once again it is your business so set the hours that work best for you. Post these hours on your website, Facebook page, and even in the signature of your emails to help clients know this is when they should contact you. If they contact you outside of those hours, have automated responses that let them know when you will respond so they know you aren’t ignoring them.

No read receipts

If you have no problem giving your customers your cell phone number, this is fine and completely up to you. However, you should consider turning off the read receipts if your customers prefer to text you. This will allow you the ability to respond on your time. This will prevent clients from thinking you are deliberately choosing not to answer them.

Bring relationships to a close

Just as how you need to be upfront at the beginning of a client relationship as to what they can expect, you also should let customers know when a project has come to a close.

A goodbye packet can serve as an effective method for concluding a relationship. It can include the details of the costs, your recommendations for the landscape’s maintenance, and additional services that you offer. While you obviously welcome them to reach out to you for future jobs, it’s nice to let them know that this one has officially come to a close.

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