Before doing any work, get paid. It seems comically ubiquitous to say, but delving into a few scenarios will help illustrate why maintaining procedures makes all the difference. Seemingly innocuous interactions, and favors sometimes expose you to losing time, accruing costs and overall feelings of anger.
The following hypotheticals all illustrate why protocols are critical to growth:
A. The Case of the I Need This Now.
You are enjoying a quiet dinner with your significant other, and you receive an urgent call from the office. Against your better judgment, you take the call. A prospective client, and friend, has an emergency that needs your immediate attention. In your wantonness to adjudicate the matter, you ask for the check and head back to the office to resolve your friend’s issue (your significant other is not amused). You briefly discuss discounted fees, and they verbally agreed to such. The matter is subsequently resolved, and your friend disappears. Suddenly, they aren’t so easy to get a hold of.
B. The Text Request.
You have made it a part of your business to give away your personal cellular number to certain clients, and are now getting texts after the close of business about work. You respond, without punctuating correctly, and attend to the matter in the most Mr. Clark expeditious way possible. You prepare the work, and email it to your client a few hours later. They change their mind about the business venture, and say they don’t need your analytics.
In both cases, a protocol system of invoicing/retainers would have properly resolved the obvious payment issues. Your best chance to get paid is when someone needs your service, not after services are rendered. As such, get in the habit of requiring half your fees upfront, and don’t send any final work product until final payment is confirmed. Additionally, and most importantly, for outside of regular business hours request, add on fees.
Breaking protocol for friends, family and loyal customers is not good practice, and you should err on the side of caution when approaching such scenarios. However, good customers respect protocols and adherence to a clear transactional flowchart. Good customers also know that it is your service that they require, and out of the ordinary requests are subject to surcharges.
Respect your business, and demand that others do the same. It all starts with adhering to Protocols.
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