When you go into business for yourself, one of the problems you quickly run into is the client who demands more than they are paying for. It usually starts innocently enough. A client may call to discuss his project and “oh, by the way” ask your advice on a peripheral matter. For instance, if you are selling mobile website design services, your client may ask for search engine optimization tips. At first, you may be flattered or consider it good business and be willing to help out a customer to cement your relationship. But after the third or fourth hour-long phone call, you are apt to start feeling resentful about customers who are, in effect, asking for something for nothing.
When you are self-employed, it is important to remember that time is money. Every time your customer calls to shoot the bull, the advice you give away free could have been dollars in your pocket. Likewise, a customer who asks you to do “a something extra” beyond the scope of your initial contract is asking for a freebie. For example, a customer who asks you to SEO previously-created content that will appear on the mobile website you are creating for him is significantly expanding the scope of the original project. If you include this additional service without amending your contract and charging an additional fee, you are robbing yourself. When you go into business for yourself, your time becomes a valuable commodity that, just like any product you sell, should come with a price tag.
When you’re starting out, it is easy to open yourself up to customer abuse. Because you are working hard to build a customer base, you want to help. You want your customers to feel they can come to you. You want your customers to know that you will go the extra mile for them. BUT there is a big difference between providing sterling customer service and giving away the store! Deciding how you are going to handle potential problems before they occur can prevent many uncomfortable client issues. We’ll talk about that next time.