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Are You Valuing Your Time (and That of Your Clients)?

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Are You Valuing Your Time (and That of Your Clients)?

Do you arrive at every meeting or job on time or do you arrive flustered, with the first words out of your mouth being “I’m sorry”?  I’m sure you’ve heard from family, friends or clients that one of their biggest frustrations is with people who don’t keep appointments, are always running late or don’t allow enough time for meetings.  Not to mention those who take phone calls while they are with a client.

Is it any wonder that negative generalisations are held about tradespeople and other service based businesses? I still don’t understand why so many people take my calls when they are in meetings and then proceed to tell me, “I can’t talk….I’m in a meeting.”  Well if you’re in a meeting, its pretty simple, DON’T ANSWER YOUR PHONE!

Small Businesses owners know client service is one of the key pillars required for success.  And yet, too often, they ignore or dismiss one of its simplest principles:  Respect. Clients want to feel valued because their time is precious too. They want to feel you actually want to be there, listening to their issues and concerns – rather than feeling like they are a distraction to your day or there is somewhere else you would rather be.

It seems simple enough to provide great client service, but so often, not remembering the little things can damage your client relationships and your business’ reputation.

Here’s 7 tips to help you value everyone’s time and at least meet your client’s expectations:

Tip 1: Include travel time to and from the meeting when you block out your diary.

Most people only block out meeting times in their calendar and not the travel time required on either side.  Including travel time will reduce unrealistic bookings of back to back meetings.  When making the travel calculation, allow 15 minutes extra for unexpected traffic or bad weather.

Tip 2: Confirm the appointment time with the client the day before.

Phone, text or email the client to ensure things haven’t changed since you made the appointment.  As someone who doesn’t need reminders, I do find this tip quite frustrating but unfortunately we have moved to a time when people don’t take as a much responsibility for remembering things themselves so they now expect a reminder. 

Many automated software systems now have this built in which makes the process much easier.  However, think carefully about how many and when you send the reminders as clients don’t want to be harassed with 10 reminder emails or texts the day before a meeting with you.

Tip 3: Don’t start a task, take calls or discuss anything with your team 15 minutes before you are due to leave for an appointment.

This will ensure you leave on time for the meeting. Use this time to check you have everything you need including directions, the client’s file, tools, safety gear, notepad , etc.

Tip 4: Turn off your phone as soon as you arrive at the appointment.

You don’t want to take a call that could make you late for the client. This also means you will be truly focused on the client and not distracted.

Tip 5: If it’s absolutely necessary to have your phone on whilst with a client, turn your phone to silent or on vibrate.

If there is something so urgent that it can’t wait an hour or so, explain to your client you are expecting an important phone call and may have to take the call.  To me, this should only be a family emergency as everything else can usually wait. 

Remember when we didn’t have mobile phones and had to wait till we got back to the office to get messages?  Use this thinking to determine what is really urgent and important.

Tip 6: Get out of the car 10 minutes before the meeting time.

This allows you the time to collect your gear, lock the car and arrive calmly, whilst still ensuring you are early or on time. Better you are waiting for the client than the other way around.

Tip 7: Keep a notepad in your car or use an app on your phone/tablet.

If you arrive more than ten minutes before the meeting, use this time to get a jumpstart on a task, draft an email or to jot down ideas, but keep an eye on the time as you don’t want to be late from the carpark.

These tips are simply common sense, but they will help you to value your time as well as your clients. As the saying goes, time is money – it is a precious commodity that we should respect, not dismiss.

Thomas C Haliburton says “punctuality is the soul of business” so remember: whether you are on time or not is often the first impression your potential client will receive, and it may determine if they do business with you or not.

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