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Feeling like you need to clone yourself?

by Alison Bradford

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Are you so busy right now dealing with all of your customers that you don’t have enough time to work on your own business?

You’re spending all of your time working on their needs and not enough on your own.

You’re putting in loads of hours to make sure their orders are met and their work is completed.

You’re great at making sure you deliver extra value to them as it’s really important they are pleased with your work.

Only thing is, your regular customers have now come to expect that you always go the extra mile for them and that you are there whenever you need them.

In fact, some of them now keep putting in last minute jobs for you to fulfil, expecting it to be done as you are always so accommodating.

You don’t like to say no in case they find someone else, so you do it. It means that you have to rearrange your schedule again, miss that event you wanted to go to and work until the early hours. Never mind though eh? This is what you need to do to keep running your own business, right?

Err – no actually. Running your business doesn’t need to be this hard.

If you are so busy servicing your customers that you don’t have any time to work on your own business, never mind have a life beyond it, then see which of these tips below you can implement now to start getting back some control and start enjoying your business again.

1. Set Expectations

If you’re really busy right now and a customer contacts you with an urgent job, what do you say?

If you are saying ‘yes’ to everything because you are worried they will go elsewhere if you say ‘no’, then try coming up with some alternatives.

How about ‘Yes I can do that for you – how about next week / month? If this is okay for you I’ll schedule it in now’

Or, ‘Yes I can do that for you. You have 2 options. One is I can schedule it in when I’m next available at our usual rate. Or, if it’s really urgent, then I can look to fit it around my existing commitments but this will be charged at a higher rate. Which one would you prefer?’

Or even ‘I would love to work with you but I’m at capacity right now with my existing clients. How about I put you on my waiting list and then I’ll be in touch as soon as a slot becomes free?’

2. Set clear boundaries with your customers

Remember the saying ‘under-promise and over-deliver’? Too often we start off over-promising as we are keen to impress and win the work. This then puts us in the position where customers expect us to over-deliver from the outset.

Listen to what your customer is asking you for and aim to deliver a little beyond this rather going all guns blazing to impress them with how amazing you are.

You don’t have to respond to all emails straight away.

You don’t need to answer the phone at all hours of the day.

Agree what your boundaries are and clearly communicate these to your customers.

This can be as simple as setting up an email auto-response such as ‘Thanks for your email. I deal with my emails between 4 and 5, Monday to Friday, so will get back to you then.’

Or having a voicemail message such as ‘Thanks for your call. Please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you at xxxx. Or, if your call is urgent, please send me a text and I’ll call you back as soon as I can’.

Where do you need to set boundaries with your customers?

How can you communicate these to them in a friendly way that sets their expectations?

3. Automate and systemise

Where are you doing the same tasks repeatedly? What can you put in place to automate or systemise these jobs to save time?

If you are sending the same email repeatedly to confirm an appointment or an order, have you got a template set up so you just fill in the gaps each time? Even better, can you set up an email auto-responder for certain enquiries / orders?

Consider where you can you use templates in your business and look for technology to automate some of the repetitive jobs.

If you’re not sure where to start, try keeping a log for a week of all the tasks you do – it feels like a pain to do it but it will be worth it in the end when you get to see what you’re actually spending your time on!

4. Delegate and outsource

What are the tasks you are doing that someone else could be doing quicker and better? This will give you a feel for what you should be considering outsourcing in your business.

How about the accounts? Maybe you can get someone else to do your Twitter and Facebook updates? Invoicing? General admin? Design work? Website updates?

Outsourcing is about freeing up your time to focus on what you do best in your business and to allow you to focus on growing your business and generating profit.  Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking no-one else can do it or that you don’t want to spend money paying someone else.

By not doing this, you will be holding your business back.

5. Raise your prices

If you are at capacity with your customers then another thing to consider is raising your prices.

Lots of business owners shy away from this, fearful that their customers won’t want to pay more and will go elsewhere.

Here’s the deal on this – if you raise your prices and did lose some of your customers, will you still be making the same or more money in less time? If so, then isn’t this what you want, to free up some time to spend on your business?

How you communicate this with your customers needs to be considered and the key here is to focus on value. Can you clearly express the value you have given them and what value they will get from you in the future? Put this across in a way that lets them know they’re still getting a great deal.

Do you have any other tips to share? Let me know by leaving a comment.

 

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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