EP 12: How to Set Client Boundaries

Do you set client boundaries from the beginning of your working relationship with your clients? It’s such a great way to restate the terms that you mentioned in your contract, and allows them to see those again and refer back to when they need to communicate with you.

What happens when a client emails you past your working hours? 

Will you respond right away? 

I do believe there is a better way to handle this that we will discuss in today’s episode. We are going to dive into what client boundaries are, how to set them, when the best time is to introduce them, how to reinforce these boundaries and a few other tips I have to share with you.

Client Boundaries are Essential

This is the best way to start your relationship with a new client. When you send that first onboarding email or client welcome guide, you want to share how you prefer to be contacted, what your hours are, any links they may need from you to book a call, or anything else they may need to know about when working with you. 

Remember, you don’t work FOR your clients, you work WITH your clients. This means that you are the CEO of your business and can set those boundaries or reinforce them. There may be some clients who push back on your boundaries, which can be hard to deal with as a people-pleaser, but it gives you more reason to stick to the boundaries you have set to begin with. And as you grow your business and bring on more clients, it is essential to stick to the ones you have set because you can’t perform your best when you are stressed about handling other client relationships.

Boundaries to Include In Your Client Welcome Guide

You want to make sure all of your bases are covered when it comes to the boundaries you set, your working hours, and communications streams. What I recommend to include in your boundaries list: (the more detailed you are the better)

  • Set hours you tend to work
  • Turnaround times
  • Handling urgent requests
  • Contact methods
    • Email
    • Slack/Voxer
    • Call/Text
    • Zoom Calls

When it comes to your contact methods, I suggest choosing two that work best for you. Any more communication methods than those can cause stress and overwhelm – especially if you have multiple clients. You can tell them which ones are better for you starting out. If you are already using the one your client recommended, then moving them to the method of your choice soon after is going to be best for you.

Reinforce the Boundaries You’ve Set

When you have a client emailing you a “quick task” on a Friday afternoon before you log off to enjoy a long weekend, how would you normally respond?

If you choose to complete the quick task because you know it won’t take you but a few minutes – this can lead to your client sending you emails on the weekends or at 9 PM on a weeknight expecting you to get it done. Clients can push back on your boundaries if you let them get away with it. They could also expect you to continue doing things like this, but you have to reinforce your boundaries from the initial email they send to you.

What you can do when responding is to let them know you received their email and that you’ll be glad to get to it on Monday – which is your next business day, and that you hope they have a great weekend. That’s the end of the story. If a client doesn’t respect you in this instance when they follow up, then they aren’t someone you want to be working long-term with. 

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Two Great Programs for Automating Your Client Working Relationships

If you find that being stern is difficult for you or you want your client onboarding process to be put into a workflow, then Dubsado or HoneyBook are great options.

I love and use Dubsado in my business for many things, especially for my client onboarding process. I can optimize my entire onboarding process, from the moment a client fills out my form or books a call with me. I have it all automated through the workflow feature. 

Another great option where you can set up workflows is by using HoneyBook. They aren’t considered workflows with this program, instead, they are automations. This will allow you to set up the same kind of workflow or automated process with your clients from the beginning of the relationship for you both.

I strongly recommend setting up some sort of workflow for your business, especially, if you don’t like being stern. You can set up those automated or canned emails for this purpose and include them in your workflow. You set them up once and then you’re done!

Is It Outside Of The Scope Of Your Work?

At the beginning of your business as a virtual assistant, freelancer, or service provider, it can be hard to pass on a client because of income needs, wanting the experience, or anything similar. What it really boils down to is the boundaries you have put in place, being firm with them, and potentially having to let a client go because they don’t respect you.

You started your business for a reason, right? And you get to make the decisions, set those rules because you are the one who owns their own business. You shouldn’t let someone else walk all over you and disrespect you. This just means that a client isn’t fit to work with you. And like the quote says, “when one door closes, another one opens”, there will always be another amazing client out there who will respect your boundaries.

I hope you were able to get some insight on how to set up client boundaries for your business. When you are detailed and have those mentioned in a welcome email or your client welcome guide, it helps you from having to get stern later with your clients. And remember, that if you decide to do something outside the scope of your work once, your client may expect that again from you, so don’t be afraid to reinforce those boundaries when they are trying to be pushed. If you don’t already have a client welcome guide and you want to put your best foot forward with your boundaries, especially, then you can grab my free client welcome guide template now!

What are some of the client boundaries you have set for your business?

A Breakdown of This Episode

[3:28] You work with your clients, not for them, as a virtual assistant, service provider, or freelancer

[5:15] Setting boundaries right from the start of your relationships with your clients 

[6:03] Putting automated workflows in place for onboarding your clients

[6:57] What systems are you using to communicate with your clients?

[8:56] Handling a client email at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday that’s outside your scope of work

[11:12] If one door closes with a client, what about your next opportunity?

If you enjoyed this episode I invite you to take a screenshot and tag me on your Instagram stories @introvertcoach and tell me your biggest takeaway!

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