Becky Ann said,
Hi Sarah! I would like to know how you go about explaining to your clients about delays or when unpredictable things come up which effect your work.
I recently feel ill with a chest infection, which resulted in a hospital stay. During this time I was unable to access the net to respond to any emails and consequently lost a client who had emailed me three days in a row. I was dropped due to “poor communication” despite me explaining my absence as soon as I was able to. As I work mainly via word or mouth this worries me as it’s my reputation on the line.
What I am asking is how do you explain such circumstances to your clients clearly, without sounding like you are giving them a whole heap of excuses and without getting too personal? I know (hope) this isn’t something that is going to come up a lot but I’d like to be better prepared next time it happens. Thanks again.
As a freelancer, no matter how hard you work to keep on schedule and stay healthy, this will inevitably happen. I caught a terrible cold during the winter and was completely knocked out for almost a week and a few days ago twisted my ankle, which lost me two days worth of performing. When you’re the only one behind your business it’s a good idea to have a game plan for unexpected time off. Here are the three things I recommend…
1. Let your clients know immediately, whether you or family member/friend sends out the email, that you’re unable to work and do your best to give them and idea of when you’ll be back.
2. If you’re going to unavailable for more than a week give your client the option to wait or cancel the project with a full or partial refund. If they’re going to cancel I’d recommend sending them a few people they can contact to do/finish the work, so they still feel you care about their project even if you aren’t able to complete it.
3. If they choose to stick with you, keep them updated. Let them know you’ll be in touch in a week, then make sure to do so even if it’s to say you’re still not available.
Any time I’ve had to put a project on hold for a few days or a week my clients have been very understanding. They realize I’m the only person behind the scenes and if I end up sick things come to a halt.
I think it’s important to not feel guilty or beat yourself up for taking time off or losing a client. Sickness, injury and personal issues come up for everyone and when you’re self-employed it’s critical to stop and make time to care of yourself. You are allowed to completely stop all for for a few days while you heal. (That’s what you built up your savings account for, right??)
As long as you’re clear with how serious things are and how long you may be unavailable your clients will respect the fact that you’re doing your best to make sure their project gets finished.