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Setting Policies & Boundaries

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I'd like to know about setting policies and boundaries within your business structure. I do have policies. When someone wants to push the boundary line to bend it to accommodate them specifically I am very hesitant to do this and process a request on a case by case basis, although the majority of the times I stand by my established policies.

 

What do others do when someone wants to bend the boundaries?

 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Thanks,

~Ruth

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I do feel that good fences make good clients. I also sometimes bend the rules. It always depends on the client and the situation. For example, I currently have a new short term client who purchased a few discounted hours in a doorprize giveaway. I don't anticipate her as a long term retainer client and I don't really do project work so we won't be together very long. She is Very technology shy so I am holding her hand through the things she is trying to get done and talking to her on the phone more than I usually would a regular client...However...she is also Very well connected and participates in multiple networking groups so I know that if I leave her with a favorable impression of my business...even though she probably will not be a future client...I will most likely get business through her referrals. She is very influential...so I bend the rules.

 

 

Edited by Cheryl R

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Someone, maybe it was me, said "You need to know the rules before you break/bend them."

 

Having a solid policy system gives us guidelines to work with if we see a need. I think a client will respect a policy system. Imagine how they feel when it appears we have nothing to indicate we aren't higgledy/piggledy about our work and our production.

 

For me, a policy was an enlightening, encouraging and empowering experience comparable to a business plan.

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Guest TerryGreen

It all depends on what boundaries we're talking about. I have several boundaries that are etched in stone, but then there are others that aren't. I base all of the boundaries that are not etched in stone on a case by case basis because even though it is my business and I have the right to run it the way I want to run it, I'm still in the business of customer service (we all are), and I value my clients and want to keep them happy. Based on the client, and based on the request, I make decisions that make the most sense to me ... decisions that will hopefully make the client happy, yet decisions that will not compromise any of my standards, beliefs or ethics, and will not venture into the area of the boundaries that are etched in stone.

 

Will I accept phone calls after business hours or even on a weekend? I do for one client because she's on the west coast and that's the best time for her to call me. She does it rarely, is on the phone for just a couple of minutes to touch base, and has never abused the privilege ... plus, she loves the fact that she can reach me if she needs to. She also knows that if I don't want to or can't talk when she calls outside of business hours, that I just won't answer the phone.

 

Will I do work on weekend? I will with another client because he travels so much that sometimes we need to connect and work on a weekend to accommodate our schedules ... again, he has never abused the privilege.

 

Do I respond to emails send after hours on a Friday night even though I'm not officially open? If I'm on the computer after hours and see the email come through ... I most certainly will shoot a quick response back letting them know that we are closed for the weekend and I'll respond officially on Monday when I'm back in the office. To me, that's simply being courteous ... they know I've received the email and that it will be taken care of.

 

Setting boundaries for your business is a very, very personal thing, and things like I mentioned above represent boundaries that cause no harm to me, my family or my business, so I adjust them as needed. The one thing that makes it easy for me to do this is because all of my clients know that nothing is guaranteed, these accommodations are made only if and when I choose to make them. Just knowing that I'm willing to work with them if needed has made all of the difference in the world to them, so they are all the more careful not to push or abuse any situation.

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Thank you each for sharing your experiences. After reading these I do/have done things much the same and find I'm more pliable than I may have eluded to. It's very true, Terry, it really depends on what type of boundaries these are.

 

What ruffled my feathers was an "insistence" to set up and accept an online payment with a different provider than my established provider. This was addressed before the initial project began and I thought the issue was mute. I have no intention of setting up an additional different process for one person. The insistence really got me ruffled when I was waiting to process the balance of the project and release the work to the client.

 

~Ruth

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Ruth,

 

I always look at the benefit of a policy change to the person doing the demanding (it usually isn't asking), to my other clients if a change is made, and to my peace of mind. If only one person benefits, I stick with the policies I have in place.

 

Debbie Lynn

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I don't really have a lot of boundaries, more like guidelines. I'm very "live & let live", and luckily - after one Psycho, I have a great group of clients who take care of me and my boundaries more than I take care of them and their boundaries.

 

Within reason I will answer emails as they come in. If its something that I don't particularly want to deal with at that certain time, I'll tell the client I'll deal with it the next day.

 

Everyone's going to have emergencies, and after purging the Psycho from my client base, I'm more open to attract the types of clients I want to attract.

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