Time is valuable.
Running a small agency is stressful and rewarding.
The balance of client work and your time is a fine line.
Most times, you're faced with multiple meetings, calls and emails - this adds up.
How your time is managed, scheduled and used means everything.
Balancing client work, your own products, life, growth... It starts with telling your clients, they're NOT the only ones.
Sure, it may sound harsh - but there's a system to this.
A way to delicately inform each client, that your time is scarce and you are busy taking care of multiple other projects other then theirs, while still making them understand that your goals is to make them satisfied and successful.
This also has a lot to do with the relationship you have with each client. The fact is, each client is completely unique - even if you do find similarities.
1: Assert The Schedule For The Next 3-6 Months
Next time you have a meeting, or call with your client - find a way to bring up your work schedule.
Inform them you are planning for the next few months, and need to account for all your time (as much as possible).
This will allow you to schedule calls, in-person meetings and give you room to plan.
2: Bring Up Other Projects You're Working On
Sounds kinda weird, right?
You'd think "Why the fuck would I tell my client about other things I'm working on, all they need to know is that I'm working on their stuff and that's it!"
I'm here to tell you that - you SHOULD tell your clients about other projects, for a few reasons;
i. Builds more trust with them. Don't be a mystery to your client, show them you're human and you'll see how far that'll go.
ii. Shows you are busy, but have great work ethic. You're not content with just one client, you want a lot - but what's consistent is the work, it's always on point and on time. Don't falter in your quality. But don't be late either.
3: Find Common Ground, Outside of Business
You don't need to become best friends with your client, but find some common ground.
Maybe you both like sports, gaming, art, etc.. something you can speak about that isn't business. This will give your conversations a different tone, and even a different narrative when it comes to certain asks.
Not every conversation needs to be about money or business.
4: Communication is Golden
We're going the complete oppo of silence - which is a killer in the agency world.
This is the one of the only things I will ever tell you that is not only crucial, but a founding pillar of any agency.
Answer every email, respond fast and take on responsibility. When you are always around, there is a difference of trust that you can't get when only answering every day or two, or having off time throughout the day.
Get them on Whatsapp, email, iMessage - any form of communication you can use and stick with it and get your client to as well.
Once they see you're almost always there, the time when you need to use towards other work, projects, etc - it won't be an issue. You'll have already built the trust, that you'll have the leverage.
Establish from the beginning the boundaries of how you're expecting to communicate. Establish your work hours (after those end tell them they don't have to expect you to answer) and days off (weekends are off limits).
5: 'No' Is Your Best Friend
I'm very guilty of being terrible at telling a client "No".
When I say terrible, I mean worse than terrible and I need some type of intervention on saying no - but enough about me.
As you have probably found out in this life, people will take advantage of your goodwill and willingness to go above and beyond. Don't get freaked by the word 'advantage' because life is just a value for value exchange when it comes to business.
The idea is to keep your willingness to do the most, but still say No when you need too.
Whatsapp message on Sunday Morning asking to change the requirements? No. Answer on Monday.
6: Value Dynamic & Static Labor
This was a great point raised in this blog post:
This section is important:
"An agency has two types of labor: First, static labor. This consists of tasks that can be completed on near-autopilot. It's your routine, low-stress work executed without much volatility or client back-and-forth. The more value you can provide with static labor, the more efficient your business is.
Second, an agency also provides dynamic labor. This is custom work dictated by a client's needs."
Understand where lies the most value of your time, and where you can get the most value of out yourself.
How this boils down in a dollars and cents aspect, is you may find it more efficient to accept two smaller contracts, than one larger one.
Of course, this is completely situational, and I would never advise you to turn down a client.
These are just 6 of the ways you could handle a client with the information that there are more than just them on your roster.
There are other ways that this can be done, and I'll look to add those over time.
I can assure you, that if you implement these strategies and ideas, even just 1 or 2 into your client relationship, it'll make a huge difference.