It becomes very frustrating when others don’t respect your time. Many small entrepreneurs and freelancers who are short of time find it very frustrating that their clients do respect their time. You might have faced delaying a meeting or a discussion or a workshop for something urgent. This creates a mess not only for you but the sales and cash flow too.
There was once a discussion with a person who did consulting and was happy to close a proposal for a new client really fast. They had started with the logistical efforts of the new project to start. That day they were supposed to start the client pushed the project back due to which the consultant lost the better part of the week. While one recognizes that there are sometimes legitimate issues that require change in schedule.
If you want others to respect your time, first you have to start respecting it yourself. Your time is the most valuable that you have and you can never earn it back once you have lost it. Once you recognize this you will automatically percolate through how you organize your day, and how you deal with future clients. It’s really tempting when you see a blank calendar and tell the client you are available whenever it’s fine with you. Subconsciously you are informing your prospect that your timer isn’t that precious. Instead tell the client to choose the time and if he suggests several don’t say you are fine with either, pick a time like 10AM Thursday morning. Remember your calendar is never really empty if you don’t have any paid work then adjust that time for sale meeting and stuff like that.
Next is to respect the time of others. If you have a meeting or a conference call at 1PM, reach there before time. If you plan a meeting somewhere new, get going early because you don’t know if you would find it easily or get a parking right next to the building or a few blocks further. If you promise someone of delivering the proposal at 5PM Friday then be there at 5PM and drop the proposal.
Respecting your own time and other’s shows a lot of professionalism both to your client and your ownself.
Now let’s have a look at a couple of things that would encourage people to respect your time.
1) When you talk about a project with a potential client get to know the timeline. Do they want the project completed this month or at the end of the quarter? When is it that they want to start? If you know all of these you can easily organize things accordingly otherwise it’s easy to get impatient and get things done before the client wanted, and then you wonder that why the client isn’t that committed to the project as you are.
2) Get the cash/payment upfront, for small project like a work shop or something get full payment beforehand. For midsized projects get half the payment. For larger projects divide the payment into milestones but get first payment before starting depending on the client. You may start the work before the check clears or you can wait until it’s cleared.
3) If you have a loyal client and you have known him for a long time get a retainer for them and save some money.
4) When you have no idea how long would it take to complete the project, charge the client by the hour. I never recommend this, and clients who don’t respect your time are usually the one who have issues of you billing when you wait outside their office. If you still don’t charge by the hour but you know they won’t respect your time charge them higher.
Lastly, you should know that there are some people who don’t respect others or their time so you should not take it personally as this is business and you may get a lot of benefit from them.