Do you have a client that sends you emails all weekend long expecting you to respond? Or a client who assigns you a project and expects a 24 hour turn-over? Or maybe a client that is always late on their monthly invoice?Did you answer yes to any of the above? If so, it might be time to put some healthy working boundaries in place.
Establishing boundaries with virtual assistant clients is something I see freelancers overlook far too often. And as a result, virtual assistants end up getting burned out and jeopardize the dream of working from home all together.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can have amazing clients and a healthy work-life balance simply by establishing boundaries with your virtual assistant clients.
Tip #1: Establish boundaries from day one
In your onboarding process, use a welcome packet to highlight the hours you work, the holidays you will be taking off, and your availability to complete last minute projects (including an additional fee for doing so).
Be very clear in outlining your “office hours” whether that be M-F 9-5 or T-Th. 8-3. Whatever your schedule is, stick to it. Let clients know this is the time you will be responding to emails and available to hop on calls (if included in your package).
Also be very detailed in which holidays you will be observing and what that means in terms of your availability.
Tip #2: Have a late fee in your contract
If clients don’t pay by X date, be sure to charge them a late fee. I recommend giving your clients 7 days to pay and then charging them $25-$50 every week they are late following.
Be sure to highlight this during your onboarding call so they are fully aware of your policy as many clients might just breeze over this when they are signing your contract.
Tip # 3: Don’t respond to emails after “office hours”
If a client is notorious for sending late night emails or emails on the weekend that are outside of your office hours then no need to respond. You can wait until Monday or the following day to take care of anything they send your way.
I like to also let clients know that my typical response time is at least 24 hours. If you want to make that longer, go for it.
One of my favorite things to do is schedule my response. If I read an email and want to get it out of my inbox, I might respond right away but I schedule it to remain within my office hours to help maintain those set boundaries.
Tip # 4: Be clear on ways you will maintain communication
It is important to be clear on how your client can communicate with you. If you want it to be solely through email, let them know that. If you want to have them reach out via Voxer or Slack, go for it but again, keep your response within those established working hours or else you’ll have them messaging you all night long.
A word of caution…I would not give out your personal phone number. There are SO many other ways your clients can connect with you. Once they have your number they have it forever (even when your working relationship ends). Again there are so many other modes of communication like Voxer or What’sapp that have similar functions.
Tip #5: It’s okay to say NO!
Just because your client asks you to do something doesn’t mean you are obligated to say yes. If they need an extra email written that week and you don’t have time, it’s okay to say no. Or if they ask and you have the capacity to do so, be sure to tell them the additional fee it will cost to get that email done for them.
Saying no doesn’t mean you will lose your client. Saying no shows that you respect yourself and your time. If for any reason a client doesn’t respect the boundaries you establish, it’s time to ditch that client and find someone that does. I promise there are tons of clients out there that will.
Want to learn more freelancing tips? Be sure to listen to The Freelancer to CEO podcast or my other blogs where I am always sharing the latest tips and tricks for those looking to launch, grow and scale their freelancing business.