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Mar 1, 2021

Podcast 07: How to Stop Being a Slave to Your Clients

Podcast 01 on what you can learn from the design startup show

Episode Transcript:

Hey, design starters, today’s topic would be something most of you would have experienced every now and then. All right. Which is, you know, being a slave to your clients. So how do you stop being this, this crazy worker to your clients as if your clients are everything to you? Right. I mean, are they are?

And I’ve been friends. I’ve been, um, great, um, relationships with my clients, but there is always, there is always a way where, uh, you, you shouldn’t just live for them and they don’t live for you. And they know that too. So imagine this. All right, you’re cleaning up the mess that your kids have made. If you have kids, you know, it’s 9:00 PM.

Suddenly your client gives you a surprise call, right? So this can happen to you. Even if you don’t have kids, you are having a dinner. You are just having a great time before family friends. It’s not work time. And, and it’s 9:00 PM. It’s 7:00 PM. It’s dinner time. It can be anything where you’re doing all this stuff, right?

So with this call, You know, you look at your phone and you see the number, you know, it’s, uh, it’s here, here is him again. Um, this client again, uh, also again, so at that point in time, you don’t really know how to reject that. You can just put it down because you know, you’re in, in your mind, what you’re thinking is what are going to do.

If you are going to just hang up, we’re going to do it. You’re not going to pick up. Right. So. You pick it up and, you know, agree to have your car. There’s something, you know, at that point in time you were like, Oh, this is urgent. I just really, really need your help now. And you said yes. So next thing you know, if you’re a parent, you, you, you see your kids and, you know, they start to climb up onto you, uh, expecting goodnight hugs.

Then you get over reactive misaligned, you know, because in your, in your heart, you. You just want to carry on with what you were doing before you were interrupted. And some of you want to have your kids at a time, you know, maybe putting them to sleep, sleeping with them or reading them. You already have plans.

So right now inside you and what you are about to react to are misaligned. So you get reactive with your clients call and now you’re not feeling very good about it. So for those who are parents, the next thing you do is you tell kids that you have something important to do, which is not as important as the kids, but you know, there it is.

You have to do that. You were being told that it’s urgent. And you reacted to it. So that goes the time you get down to your desktop and started to work for your clients right. At the wrong time, at a time when you’re not supposed to be doing that. So it’s just how you think working with clients is like, Is this an everyday phenomenon?

Do you feel like a slave every time you’re at work, you want to do the work as well. And you really want to earn the income from this client. You don’t want to lose the client, you know, and you just get all misaligned with your emotions and your actions. You know, that shouldn’t be the way to succeed in your business and in your life, Lyman will not help.

And, uh, with that. Would that meet the layman it’s like canceling shut out. So success is harder to come by and I will talk about this in another episode, but right now I would, I just want to let you know, there are steps where you can take to prevent your clients to be, to prevent yourself, to be like a slave to your clients.

So for me, I used to think I was in this case as well. And I, I used to think that work is all about bending everywhere for your clients. You know, I’ve burned out. I mean, literally for 10 years of freelancing and I was on the brink of giving up. In fact, I did give up for a while. I gave up design for awhile because I thought maybe it’s a design industry that there’s something wrong with it, where I couldn’t give what I think is.

It’s worth my time and that people will appreciate me for it. I thought that was the case. So I did, but I came back to that because the, the other side hustles that I have tried did not work out at all. Right. Because those were not my passion. So, so that was when I realized my clients were not in the room at all.

It was not their fault in the first place. It’s up to them to call. And ask for help, they need support. So, so that is what they want to do. Right. But in fact, I was supposed to be responsible for giving my time in the first place. So if you are in, you know, if you are stuck in this situation, like what I have been fought for for many years, and you don’t really know how to block the time and you don’t really know how to say no, And yet you want to keep your clients and golf center.

I have some ways and this other ways, number one, all right. Give steps to your prospects and clients and not to ask them to let you know what they want. You, you don’t, you don’t ask them, what is it that you want? And then they’ll tell you what they want. Right? No, don’t do that, but give steps to them on.

Okay guys, this is how it works. Number one, number two, number three. And then you get your deliverable. So tell them step-by-step what they’re going to get, rather than ask them what they want. Because if you ask them what they want, they can give you the world. They can not give you the world. They can ask you for the world and the expect you to give them the world because you ask them for it.

So it’s your responsibility. So tell them what you can give. Right? You can do lots of design, but this only, these are the only things that you provide. So you need to spell them out. So there are some restrictions and you got to say no. Um, so what is, what is possible is what you can give you can’t possibly give them the world, right?

So you are going to let them know what you’re ready to give them, make them, make, make this, make this clear and give them the right expectations. Number two, set the systems and set the stage. For example, where should your clients email you? When she’ll client, email clients email you. So in my case for my company, what I have done is I set up this help desk where, uh, I have, uh, opening hours and closing hours.

So all my customers will know and expect to be able to receive a response. Eh response if it’s between 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. So these are my opening hours, and I have really told them that after 6:00 PM, they are free to email is fine, but don’t expect a response only aspect of response. The next working day at night from 9:00 AM onwards.

So, this is what I put in my email, as well as an army, the email from the help desk. So you can also do that. And when they email after office hours, they will receive an automated email that says, Hey, we are closed now, just leave me or questions. I would like to support you as soon as I can. We only open at 9:00 AM tomorrow and you will expect us to respond by then, you know, and then help you out with, with, um, your questions and your request.

And I, I can guarantee you that it will work because I have been using this for the past five, six years. And if they don’t like that, they will let you know, I have clients will let me know and it will say, Hey, you know, I really need some stuff between 6:00 PM to say 12:00 AM, you know, midnight. I really need this to be done.

There are times like that. And then you can possibly up sell them a service. Where do you have to pay a bit more for this urgent timeline? You can do that. Right. And which is the best, it’s much better in that way, rather than of coursing. Uh, Oh, do it at all. You can also say that. It’s just that, you know, if you want to give a good service, you, you need to give them an option of paying more.

So far for my case so far, when I, when I let them know that there isn’t, there’s an add-on fee for four after office hours, timeline, usually they will not want it. Usually they will say, okay, fine. Who just do it tomorrow. They wouldn’t want that on fee. They would want to pay more because it’s going to add to their budget.

It’s not a day. It’s not that they are selfish or anything. It’s not that they are not willing to pay. It’s just that they haven’t budgeted for it. And now that they’re asking for urgent, they just asking for a favor. You know, but, but you can set the stage where you don’t give charity in this way. Right?

Because they are also business. They earn money by selling whatever they do with you as well, their artwork, their marketing, they, they get, they are supposed to get a return on investment, all that, and that is part of their responsibility already. So you should charge them and add on fee. If they ask for after office hours request.

And what we’ve done. So that is what I do so far. Nobody wants to pay more for the add on, and I never had to worry to provide a designer after office hours. That’s it. You can also offer a 24 hour turnaround and figure out on hiring people off another time zone to cover the after office hours time. And that is what, something that we are also intending to do.

So this, in this way, you can service the one on demand. Right? And that’s something yeah. You can think about, it’s not, it’s not, there’s no do or die. There is no data. And here you can do something about it. Point is to let your customers know. All right. So set the stage where you can give yourself that free time.

You set the stage where you can give yourself a scheduled time so that your customers will know, okay, this is not the time to expect responses. And then this way you won’t feel like you are off slave to them. So that’s what an email is and opening and closing hours. You also need to tell them your holidays because no, some certain holidays you have certain celebrations.

Like new years, right? Like for Singapore, the Chinese new year can be quite long. So I will tell them that, Hey, during this few days we are closed to expect any response and we will be back again so holidays. And if they really want support full quit candy, go to, so if you are not the one, have you hired someone, do you have a support?

Where did they can respond to your customers if you do then yes. Let them know that. So that they don’t call your, your mobile. They don’t expect you to return. Yeah. Yeah. They are requests. Right? So, so these are the steps that you can take and they have been working fine for me, finance to set this boundary.

Don’t let it run wild, uh, unless, unless, uh, you know, you are willing to go, go through this and don’t think that you’re a slave. Right. And then that’s fine, but. It does cause burnout because you are able to save time for yourself and do the things that you want to do all the, while you, you, you, you need time to do marketing and sales.

You need time to nurture other relationships. You need time for self-care. So set this stage, set the boundaries and let your customers know. All right. So to then we’ll speak again. Bye.