By Flying Solo contributor Kathryn Williams
Over-servicing clients is a common problem for small business owners; we feel it’s what sets us apart from our competitors. All it’s doing, however, is creating unreasonable expectations, and costing us money to boot.
We know we can deliver what our clients need.
And because we do this for a living, we should know how to price, and manage the deliverables – right?
So why do we spend so much time on over-servicing and over-delivering?
Do we think our client will pay us more?
Did we get our pricing wrong?
Or are we inefficient?
As soloists, it is our responsibility to manage our time professionally and efficiently. Why? Because most of us are billing by the hour. While unbillable work is unavoidable, too many of us are spending the bulk of our days on it.
“While unbillable work is unavoidable, too many of us are spending the bulk of our days on it.”
What are the costs of this?
The opportunity costs, and the risks, when we spend more time than we get paid for, include:
The client becomes accustomed to receiving a higher level of deliverable for that particular fee, which ultimately sets incorrect expectations, and sets a bad precedent for the whole industry.
We are too busy working on non-billable work, to spend time working on new business opportunities.
Rather than working on delivering jobs for not enough money, it would be better to invest this time in managing qualitative and quantitative post-mortems of job results, to learn how to improve.
We are too busy to engage in important and necessary social/communication connections and networking and building relationships with our clients, and prospects.
We all have the same amount of time in a day, how you choose to ‘spend’ it, and how you choose to manage it – is where YOU make the difference.
Here are seven tips for managing over-servicing
Ask clients for more, more often. When there is ‘scope creep’, project costs need to be renegotiated.
Invest 10% of over-servicing time toward client management/retention activities, rather than over-servicing a job per se. Instead of over-servicing on jobs which fade into the past, the best way to grow your business is through client retention. So remember to say ‘thank you’, acknowledge magic moments, and show your clients that they are valued and important.
Invest another 10% into reviewing current job progress, qualitative and financial metrics, and important end-of-job Return On Investment (ROI) and ‘success’ metrics for both parties.
If an opportunity has potential for showcasing your work – invest time to enter industry awards; and also client industry recognised events.
Invest 10% in business development activities, a core part of your business growth strategy.
Invest 10% in yourself – industry training, networking, and developing social connections and networking.
Invest in your business tools and automation – job management solutions, benchmarks and a dashboard, which will allow you to track and monitor results. Remember you can’t manage what you can’t measure! You ultimately need live, up-to-the-minute data to manage time and stop over-servicing in its tracks.
Don’t blame the client for your over-servicing
Be crystal clear (and honest) about how much you over-service each month and be conscious of how you allocate and manage your most precious resource.
By taking on board even just one or two of the tips above, you can reduce over-servicing to an acceptable tolerance level, and establish a conscious and continual practice of achieving operational excellence.
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