- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 11/16/2008
- Writing for the Web
When entrepreneurs begin to enjoy business growth, they often encounter time management challenges. They feel overwhelmed as they juggle more projects, bigger jobs and more queries. For instance, I once hired a wonderful web designer I’ll call “Wendy.” Wendy was just starting out so she was willing to do a lot and accept a low fee. But I am not the only one who finds hidden treasure. Soon Wendy was juggling more clients than she could handle comfortably. And she wanted a life, too. As a client, I became frustrated. Suddenly I couldn’t phone Wendy for last-minute requests. My projects disappeared in a black hole. What could Wendy do? If she were my copywriting client, she would let her website do the driving. She would create a page for client policies and clearly state what she needs from clients to provide great service. Here are 3 policies Wendy (and any busy entrepreneur) needs to clarify on the website. (1) How much notice do you need from your clients? You need notice of a new project coming in and notice of cancellations. I asked Wendy to redesign my business card for what seemed like the millionth time. “Sure,” she said, “I can do this.” But when? I wasn’t her only client that week. Wendy needs to manage her client expectations. For example, she could write: “3 days notice to start a business card and 7 business days to schedule a blog theme.”
For phone or live consultations, 24 to 48 hours has become the standard cancellation notice for everything from massa
ge therapists to medical services. Design and writing professionals need a kill fee — an amount that will be surrendered if your client cancels mid-project. (2) What is your turnaround time? How many business days do you need to give clients the quality work they deserve? For my own copywriting service, I have learned to ask for 10 business days for a project where I used to quote 5 business days or less. But now I’m busier. I can’t work on just one project this week. So I need to stretch out my delivery time and charge extra for rush jobs. I have no idea how long it takes to design a website or a business card. But if the designer needs one, three or five business days, I need to know. (3) What do you need to get started on a project for a new client? Your website should help you do away with no-fee get acquainted calls. As you get busy, even a get-acquainted call represents an investment of time — an opportunity cost, as accountants say. I recommend offering a paid small sample of your work. For copywriting, it’s a diagnostic project. For consulting, it’s a one-hour call. My system allows clients to deduct the cost of the initial call if they move on to a bigger project. We both win if we achieve the client’s goals with just the Diagnostic. And I work with clients from the first moment instead of trying to sell and close.
I’ve also found that I can let my website do the driving so I get fewer requests for phone calls. I recorded a couple of teleseminars so prospective clients can hear my voice. They listen as I answer questions and do one-minute makeovers on callers’ websites. And after an hour or so, they feel they know me.