What does being of service really mean?
So often, I see Administrative Consultants thinking it means being “instant assistants” and working with clients as if they were employees. They make unrealistic (and ultimately undeliverable) promises of “24 hour” and “on-demand” service.
Being of service—true service—means being able to deliver consistently and dependably at a humanly sustainable pace. Listen, you aren’t going to be of service to anyone running around like a chicken with its head cut off, all stressed out and making mistake after mistake due to being hurried and harried and not giving yourself enough “space” to breathe and think clearly.
That’s exactly where you’ll end up attempting to be an “instant assistant,” bending over backwards trying to impossibly meet every constant demand. That thinking lacks foresight, business sense, and just plain doesn’t work.
What does work is being intentional in your business. What does that mean? It means examining your business, bringing every process, system and action to conscious thought, and making sure each contributes to your ability to deliver long-term, value-rich, purposeful, consistently reliable service.
Why are you doing things the way you do? What are your systems? How do your processes facilitate your workflow? In the big picture, do they allow you to run a dependable, sustainable practice? Do they contribute to your service and consistent dependability to clients? What systems, policies, processes and flows will? What ineffective policies and processes do you need to say “no” to in order to deliver bigger value and superior long-term service?
Being a great service provider doesn’t mean killing yourself. Being a great solo professional service provider means being a conscious business owner and effective (not instant) manager of your client workload.
(originally posted February 24, 2007)
Once again, great information, Danielle!
I think we sometimes slip back into the “employee” mentality that we have to get everything done “right now.” It helps to be continually reminded that we are business owners. We determine how and when.
Great post at the right time. I’m actually dealing with a client right now…well an association. I have one board member who wants that 24-hour turnaround, on demand type service. That stops today. I actually have to respond to an email she sent and reading your post was very helpful. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a traditional employee in your own business and I try hard to stay away from clients that want to treat you as such.
This is so true. One of my clients was expecting this type of service of me. I explained to her that I don’t do this type of service and that if she needed me to be “available” every single day, M-F that we would need to renegotiate our retainer contract. I realize what I will and will not tolerate in MY business and frankly I just can’t see getting so stressed like that propel someone else’s business but not my own. Not to mention this type of service doesn’t allow me to truly honor my other clients and their needs.
Thank you as always for the great content Danielle!!
Its feels like you know just when I am having trouble and what kind of trouble it is. I have a client who is REALLY good to me, but has trouble looking outside the “employer” box. I was just trying to figure out how best to chat with him instead of trying to find a way to let him go.
Thank you for these well thought out blogs and notes. I look forward to them and always take your advice to heart.
I look forward to your webinar coming up.
Definitely on point with this one. The right reality checks about how to handle the administrative services we provide will ultimately lead to the right “checks.” Thanks for all you do in the AC community.