Lesson 16: Setting Client Boundaries
Your goal for this lesson is to set some solid and clear boundaries around your clients!
The #1 reason why service based entrepreneurs burnout with client work is because they have poor boundaries. Allowing their clients to make all the rules mixed with often wanting to go above and beyond to create an incredible client experience, a lot of service based entrepreneurs find themselves in a hole of frustration because they are operating way outside of what their client actually paid for and way outside of their zone of genius.
Don’t get me wrong, I want you to serve your clients to the best of your ability and absolutely knock their socks off with value, but I do not want you to overextend yourself into burnout. So let’s talk about boundaries!
There are three areas of your business that you should be setting boundaries around. Your time, your offer and your price.
Let’s talk about your time. We talked in the previous lesson about creating a schedule that allowed you to serve your clients without going against your non-negotiables. But what happens when a client says “Well that time isn’t going to work for me can you do it on this day?” It’s so easy to rearrange your schedule or go against your non-negotiables in order to please your client. But what happens then? You miss out on family time or you don’t get enough rest or you’re just really annoyed that you’re now working on a day that you really don’t want to work. And you start to resent your client because you didn’t either communicate that boundary or speak up about it before it was crossed. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever make adjustments for your clients, you can be the gauge for how often you do that, but what Im saying is that you should have boundaries in place so that your client knows what to expect and you are doing what you need to fill your cup.
You also want to set boundaries around how your clients will communicate with you and when you will respond. I have had nightmare clients in the past who have gotten upset because I didn’t answer their email at midnight. I’ve also made the mistake of giving my phone number out to clients as well. So wrong! So get clear on how you want your clients to communicate with you. Whether it be through a client management system like Dubsado or Asana or through a separate email address that you set up just for clients. Also let it be known when they can expect a response from you. All of this should be shared with your clients during your onboarding process!
Next is setting boundaries around your offer. So, Years ago a woman inquired about my coaching services. I was a new coach who needed the money and was hype that someone wanted to pay $150 to work with me. I took her call and asked exactly what she needed help with and to my surprise, what she needed was an assistant and not a business coach. But again I was broke and desperate for a client and I figured at some point we would actually take time to chat about her business, so I went along with it anyway. And guess what? I was absolutely miserable during our time together because she had me doing work that was the complete opposite of what was listed on my sales page. And because I didnt clearly communicate that boundary before accepting her money, I felt stuck. I see this happen all the time with coaches and service providers. You want to create this grand experience and make sure your clients can see that you’re oozing with value, that you begin to agree to tasks or extra calls or other extra assets that are not included in your original program.
And what happens? You begin to resent your clients and do more work than what you’re getting paid for. This is why we worked hard on creating your signature process. So that your client knows exactly what they will be getting and you have a clear roadmap to stick to during your time together. That doesn’t mean that you can’t surprise and delight your clients with a little extra every once and a while but that shouldn’t take away from your actual offer.
So how do you communicate this boundary? Let’s say a client says “Hey, can you create these templates that I can use?” If that is not something that is included in your offer, you can say “That’s a great idea but that isn’t something I am able to do during our time together.” You can either upsell them later to a package that includes what they were wanting or recommend a friend who can handle it. You can also let your boundaries be known upfront in things like your terms and conditions page or your client contracts!
Lastly, you need to set boundaries over your price. I have been asked plenty of times if I offer discounts on my services or if I could charge less for a piece of my program. Young me who was just starting out as a coach would bend and make exceptions even though she knew she needed the full amount. But old me who has been coaching for over 6 years at this point, wont budge. You see when you begin to make exceptions for those who dont want to pay the full price, you cheapen your work. You know if you’re only getting paid half the price for the full offer, you’re not going to show up in the same way you would with someone who paid full price. And your clients may not take it as seriously as well. And nothing will grind your gears more than offering a discount to someone who isnt even going to take it seriously in the first place. So set boundaries around your price and dont budge. Let your potential clients know that the price is the price and that if they are not ready then you’ll be happy to work with them when they are.
And of course if you need to, you can always offer a payment plan for those who need a little extra help. But the price is the price!
Boundaries can be uncomfortable to set and also uncomfortable to maintain. But the last thing I want for you is to begin hating your work because you’ve allowed your clients to set the rules. So once you have your boundaries in place, put those rules into your client welcome kit so that clients know upfront what to expect. You can even go as far as putting them in their contracts.
So your action step for this lesson is to set some boundaries!