Archive for the ‘Retainers’ Category

Dear Danielle: What Is a Retainer?

Dear Danielle:

I am fairly new to the business and have a few clients I know and trust, but am branching out and will be acquiring clients I have no prior experience with. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions on how to deal with billing new clients who you have no prior working relationship with?  When billing a monthly retainer package of $1,000, for example, if you do a month’s worth of work, then send them the bill, and wait another 30 days to get paid, you could potentially be working for 60 days before you get paid.  Do you recommend asking for part or all of your monthly fee up front or would you bill at the end of the month? —LB

This is a great question because it’s another reminder for us veterans that we can never take for granted that everyone knows what we think are commonly understood principles or details in business.

So, the first thing I would explain is that a retainer is a monthly upfront fee paid in full and in advance of service. And the service for which retainers are charged in our business is a month of ongoing administrative support.

The idea is that you and the client are entering into a relationship. With the retainer, they are securing a spot on your roster, reserving your time and preserving their priority over any other side (non retainer) clients or project work you do in your business.

With retainers, they are generally billed with due dates of “on or before the 1st.” There are no “deposits” toward a retainer because it’s not a layaway plan. They either pay beforehand or they don’t receive services.

In my practice, I have clients sign a credit card authorization form (AGR-30 in the Success Store) so that I can automatically run their credit card when it’s time for them to pay their retainer each month. So essentially, I pay myself, and my due date is the 25th of each month (and I never pay myself late, lol).

I do this because:

  1. the 1st is one of the busiest days of the month for me and for my clients (and most people running businesses, I think). I don’t want my money and being paid held up in any way; and
  2. if I happen to do billing for any clients (i.e., invoicing their clients on their behalf), I don’t have my business’s billing and theirs all trying to compete for my attention on the same day.

If you are billing after the fact, that is not a retainer. For the reasons you recognize (and that fact that you’ll run into far more nonpayment issues with nothing to mitigate your losses), you will have all kinds of financial problems if you bill at the end of the month for services already rendered. The last thing you need to be in is the credit lending business (which is basically what you’d be creating by billing after the fact and waiting to be paid).

How you bill in your business becomes part of your business management and systems for success. It should be given as much careful thought and consideration as every other planning and operational aspect of your business.

This is also an example of the kind of things I will be sharing with attendees at my business management systems class this coming August 22. Check it out!

Dear Danielle: How Do I Handle Interruption of Retained Services?

Dear Danielle:

It came up that a client with whom I’m working on a retainer basis has just alerted me that in a month he will be taking 4 to 5 weeks vacation so he will interrupt the service for that period of time.  We started our relationship in March, so we have been working together for three months now. How do you handle this kind of situation? Is it acceptable that he interrupts the service agreement at no cost for him? One of the clauses in our Service Agreement states that if for any reason one of the parties decides to discontinue the agreement he/I should give notice to the other party at least 30 days in advance. He is almost complying with that. But this clause was meant for the finalization of the agreement, not a temporary interruption. Should I accept this? Or should I let him know that if he interrupts the service, I might not be available when he is back at work, hence I should charge at least a minimum amount to reserve his space in my roster? Thanks in advance!Mirna Bajraj, MB Asistencia Virtual

Hi, Mirna! Great question; I’ll do my best to help. 🙂

This is another one of those situations where there is no right way or wrong way. It all depends on how you want to run your practice and what is acceptable (or not) for you.

Obviously, we never want to hold a client hostage if they can’t or don’t want to continue working together, whatever the reason. At the same time, and as you recognize, they need to be fair to us as well. This is the reason our contracts contain a termination clause that gives both parties simple, fair and equal recourse for ending the relationship: 30 days written notice.

But this situation differs because the client isn’t saying he wants to permanently end the relationship, he simply wants to interrupt the service. And here begins our thought process.

So, the client goes on vacation and now you have an open slot on your retained client roster. Obviously, you are not going to sit around and wait for him to return. That’s income you now need and want to replace.

This is where a conversation with the client would be in order.

By all means, be gracious about his wishes. However, it would be a service to him to clarify your policies. You may want to remind him of the termination clause of your agreement with each other (i.e., proper fair notice). You might want to let him know that you don’t offer “service interruptions” per se. If a client opts to terminate the contract (per the termination clause), then the contract is ended. You are then, obviously, going to fill that slot on your roster with another client because that’s income you need to replace.

Therefore, the client needs to understand that when they return, you may not have a spot any longer for them. And, if you did have a spot, the whole contract process, etc., would naturally need to start from scratch as if they were a new client. It may also mean that your rates and other particulars may be different when they return as well.

At this point, you may want to let the client know that to keep his spot on your roster, there would need to be a continuance of service and that means continuing to pay their monthly fee.

I like to use the analogy of insurance as an example, and this would be especially apt if you are using my Value-Based Pricing methodology.

When you pay for insurance, you aren’t paying for actual use. You are paying for the event of use. In other words, we may not need to use healthcare services every month, but that doesn’t mean we get to stop paying our insurance premiums for those months we don’t use any services. We don’t pay, our insurance is cancelled, we lose our spot (and possibly our grandfathered plan) and have to start all over again new.

Another thing comes to mind… and it’s hard to tell since this client is so new, but is a vacation really the reason they are wanting to interrupt service? Might there be some other issues going on, that with some conversation, could be solved to mutual benefit?

This is another reason it’s so worthwhile, especially in the beginning stages of our retained client relationships, that we have weekly telephone meetings. It really helps us keep our finger on the pulse of things with the client, their needs and concerns, and allows us to get to know and understand them better.

Hope this helps, Mirna 🙂  If you have additional thoughts or questions or need further clarification, please feel free to post in the comments. This will help shed more light and help others at the same time as well.

Dear Danielle: How Do You Cope with Holidays?

Dear Danielle:

I have a question for you. How do you cope with holidays? I’m about to go on holidays for a month. The first year I was doing this full time, I actually worked while I was traveling. Last year I had a friend fill in with a couple of my clients doing some of the work and other parts were left until I returned (mainly database entries). However, this year, I am requiring my friend to take on a lot of my clients (about six of them). One particular client requires my friend to take over everything I do which has required me writing a very long and extensive manual and take the day to train her tomorrow (only part will be for this client). However, when I asked if the client was willing to pay for some of the cost of my time in preparing the manual and for training, they have baulked. It has taken me approximately 8 hours to write the 60 page manual plus there will be another 3 or so hours training tomorrow for just this client. Who do you think should be responsible for paying for this? Sarah Munro, Sarah’s Office Services

Two questions for the price of one! lol

Let me preface things by saying there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to how you want to handle things in your business. So I’m just going to offer my own personal thoughts on this.

As far as the manual goes, to me, that’s just the cost of doing business. The client didn’t ask you to go on vacation and they didn’t ask you to develop a manual so you could have your support step in to do things. They just want to have the support they are paying for each month. If it were me, I wouldn’t charge the client for this as I initiated it as something to make things go smoother for me while I’m away.

And even if they had asked for the manual, I would still include it as part of our relationship retainer. Of course, you may not be pricing and packaging things the way I do, so that makes a difference as well.  I charge and get paid well enough that things like that don’t even need to be a blip on the radar, so to speak.

You actually have me somewhat stumped on the month-long vacation, lol. I mean, I have never taken an entire month of vacation away from my business. But I also don’t feel deprived in any way because I’m not working like a slave the rest of the time either. I don’t ever have feelings where I need to escape, which I know a lot of people do have (not saying you do, just saying in general).

My business is part of me, part of my life, so when I go on vacation it doesn’t bother me to keep a certain amount of tab on things and keep up with the most important things and delay or reduce others to half-mast.

In fact, maybe it’s just me, but one of the things I really enjoy when traveling or going on “vacation” is (for example) sitting in front of the ocean and doing a little work or checking emails on the laptop and aircard. When I lived in Europe, one of the things I absolutely loved to do was “set up shop” at my favorite cafe and do work while savoring the sights and sounds, people watching and soaking all the atmosphere in. Cafe society in Europe is so delicious!

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to actually deprive myself of a real vacation either. What I do is let clients know at the beginning of our relationship my policies and standards when it comes to the fact that I will be closed at times and even go on vacations. I don’t want them to be taken by surprise (which they really shouldn’t be anyway, but still it’s helpful to have those conversations upfront so they expect it and know exactly how things work).

I let them know how and what things will still be taken care of during that time (or not, as the case may be) and how/when they may need to step in and do things themselves. Yes, clients should never be dependant upon you! It’s their business and they should be able to step in when they need to.

I want clients to view our relationship as a whole, in the context of ongoing, so when they pay by monthly retainer, it’s more of an installment type of thing, in an abstract way of thinking of it. At the same time, I can’t justify for myself being paid a full month’s retainer if I plan to take an entire month off without giving them any level of support whatsoever. If I were to ever do that, and really and truly not work at all (and I’m just speculating here because I’ve never fully taken an entire month off), I would probably make sure there is some kind of support still available while still being half mast and/or maybe give them some kind of reduced retainer rate.

The whole vacation thing is one of the reasons I advocate for Administrative Consultants partnering with their own Administrative Consultant in the same kind of ongoing, monthly relationship that our clients have with us. When you do that, you have someone who gets to know you far better than someone stepping in off the cuff, who learns the ropes of your business and is a partner to you, not a subcontractor. This makes it much easier and more fluid for them to step in and take care of things when you are away.

I hope you have a blast on your vacation. And if I do ever decide to take off a whole month, I’ll be coming to you for advice!

Dear Danielle: Should I Turn Work Away?

Dear Danielle:

I’ve learned a lot from you in regards to Value Based Pricing by purchasing your system. Love it! The only question I have is, do you turn away any admin work that doesn’t fit into your packages? I sometimes have clients ask me to help out with a quick spreadsheet or troubleshoot why a login isn’t working etc. Do you have any tips on how this translates in value based pricing? MD

Thanks for the great question! I’ll do my best to help.

Quick answer: It depends. But let’s examine why and where you may be wanting to take your business.

Personally, at my stage in business, yes, I typically do turn away small ad-hoc project work if that’s what you are referring to. It’s just not worth my time or attention. I make enough from my retainer clients that I don’t need to bother with penny ante stuff like that. And I have more time to devote to my retained clients and more time for my own life because of it.

This is something you begin to realize once you decide that you want to start earning better in your business. Lots of people think they need to take anything they can get, everything that comes their way. And that’s certainly their perogative. If someone is starving and they need to put food on the table, yeah, you’re going to take that work, and any work you can get.

However, continuing to operate in that mode will keep you in the position of what essentially amounts to picking pennies up off the ground. You’ll never create a better, more well-earning business that way. And project work like that will keep you from building a more leisurely paced business–and life. You’ll forever be on a hamster wheel in a business like that.

Getting to a place of higher earning requires intention about the kinds of work and clients you take on. It means saying “no” to certain work in order to focus on getting the kind of work and clients that actually lead you from a hand-to-mouth (or hamster wheel) existence to one where you are earning and profitting well and, in turn, creating the life you want for yourself.

Now, you use the word “clients” rather than prospects so I’m not sure if you meant people who are already retained clients or if you actually meant just random people (prospective clients) who don’t want to retain you, but just want little one-off things.

If it’s retained clients you meant, and they were asking for something outside the scope of their support plan, again it depends. For retained clients, I give the best of my time and attention. If they have a quick, little one-off thing that falls outside the scope of their support plan, a lot of times I will knock that out for them just as a bit of client love. Their long-term business and relationship is more financially profitable for me than a few extra bucks. However, if a pattern begins to emerge (which I will notice in my six-month review of their account) that they really do need ongoing support in a particular area, that’s when we have a conversation about adding that support area onto their plan (and the price goes up accordingly).

But, yes, if it’s just a random person who has found my site and just wants a little project, I turn those away. Just not worth the distraction or my time and effort. One of the reasons I’ve been able to build the practice I have today is by saying “no” to things like that.

If you want to build a retainer based and more well-earning business, you have to say no to any client or work that isn’t in alignment with that goal. I realize there may be a balancing act some folks need to do when they are first starting their business. The caution (and where folks get caught up on) is that if all you ever do is taken on penny-ante project work, it will keep you from building the business that you’d rather have. It just eats up all your time and attention.

I know some people like to say, “But those little projects could turn into retained clients if they like my work.” Again, that’s not building a business based on intention. That’s trying to grow a business based on hope. Doesn’t work. And there’s a better way.

I’m sure you’ve heard me repeat the adage, “You will never get what you don’t ask for.” And this is exactly what this means. If you don’t ask for and expect a commitment from clients, you will never get one. If you don’t ask for exactly the kind of clients and relationship that you prefer to have in your business, you will never get them.

The tail will forever be wagging the dog (the business and clients running you and not serving your needs) and you will never build the business you want unless you ask for it. That means not accepting just any ol’ work and clients. It means telling clients exactly how you work with them (e.g., by monthly retainer) and then only accepting those clients who are ready to work like that. You gotta stop wasting time on everyone else. It’s just delaying and distracting you.

And contrary to all the advice you hear out there on this, I do not recommend you take on a small project so clients can “get a taste of what it’s like to work with you.” Would you go to a home builder and ask them to “just build me this little thing here so I can get an idea of what it’s like to work with you?” They wouldn’t do it (and they’d probably laugh behind your back). It’s just not worth their time to deal with dabblers. And you can’t make it worth your time either or you’ll be doing that the rest of your life.

Focus on the people who are ready to work with you. There are far better ways to allow prospective clients to “sample” you without you being distracted or wasting your one-on-one time. Heck, your entire website should be a “sampling” and demonstration of you and your skills, knowledge and expertise.

I want you to refer back to the Administrative Consultant business model blueprint you received with the Value-Based Pricing Toolkit. This outlines exactly how you can offer them “samples” without letting the “nibblers” take you away from your focus.

Let me know if that helps. 🙂

Dear Danielle: What Services Do You Provide?

Everyone is asking such great questions this week!

In response to my last post regarding how I structure my typical work week and day, several people have asked about services. Here’s an example:

Dear Danielle:

I am considering starting up my own Administrative Consultant business and was browsing through your website. I read what your typical work day looks like, but I have a quick question for you. What services do you provide for your clients?

This is always a tricky question for me to answer because it’s coming from the wrong perspective. I’ll do my best to try and clarify for everyone.

The problem with this question is that it’s thinking too transactionally. See, the first thing you need to understand is the difference between selling tasks/projects and providing support. Two completely different business models.

When you are in the business of support, you aren’t selling individual services or tasks because administrative support IS the service. Companies that are in the business of providing piecemeal tasks and services on an ad hoc basis are called secretarial services. That’s not the same thing as providing ongoing administrative support.

Ongoing administrative support is about providing a relationship and a body (or collection, if you will) of support areas all wrapped up into one. It’s not any one particular task or line-item service because the service that an Administrative Consultant provides IS administrative support. What that administrative support is comprised of is going to depend on your own target market. Do you see?

The best way I have come up with currently to describe administrative support is that it is the collection of tasks, functions and roles that keep a business organized, humming along smoothly and moving forward.

I created this video to help illustrate what that means (by the way, feel free to use it on your own website as it’s very helpful in educating clients in how you as an Administrative Consultant and expert help them):

Given that understanding, you can easily see that there is no way to come up with any kind of comprehensive listing of individual tasks and services that make up a body of administrative support because that support is going to be different for each and every one of us depending on each of our individual target markets. What I do for my clients administratively is not necessarily going to be the same thing you do for your clients, particularly if we have different target markets.

So, the more useful thing for you to be focusing on is determining who your target market is going to be and then learning all that you can about them. (A target market is simply a specific profession/field/industry that you plan to cater to.) How are their businesses run? Who are their clients? What kind of work is involved? What are their common goals, objectives and challenges?

Once you start answering these questions (by talking with them, surveying them, interacting with them online and off), you can begin deciding on what administrative support areas you can best help them with and tailor your offerings accordingly.

Let me know if you have more questions on this in the comments and I’ll be happy to elaborate a bit more. 🙂

PS: Pricing and structuring your packages is something I teach extensively on in my Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Toolkit. I also include so much more than just pricing and packaging–because these things affect just about everything else in your business:  how it is structured, your policies and procedures, marketing… everything. So not only do I teach you the foundational stuff and how to best frame and articulate your value in this self-study guide course, I also show you how to you map out your business to best frame your offerings, create additional revenue streams and make more money. Check it out!

Dear Danielle: My Friend/Client Is Balking at My New Standards

Dear Danielle:

My first client came by chance, prior to me making the decision to start a business. They are a non profit organization and the owner is my friend/past co worker. Because of this we started with no clear rules or barriers. Now that I am putting structure in place, the client gets uncomfortable at times. Should I feel bad for adding formality/professionalism where there was none? Patricia, PMB Admin Services

Oh gosh, no! You have nothing to feel bad about. These are normal growing pains and you are doing exactly as you should be—instilling structure, standards and boundaries. These things are critical to the improving health, continued growth and financial viability of your business—and your own self-care, I might add.

This is a very common path for many of us in this industry. We start with a vague idea of being self-employed, come into a sort of accidental business to one extent or another, and become more intentioned and conscious about our business and what we want for it as we go along. Very, very normal.

It’s also very normal to outgrow some clients along the way. As we gain more and more clarity about what we want to do and be in our business and enact standards and improvements around those intentions, there will always be some clients who balk at your growth. A lot of times, it’s because we’ve spoiled them with unsustainable ways of working together in the beginning that ultimately don’t work for us in the long-run. As you’ve discovered, the business and relationship has to work for both you and the client equally, not one or the other, or it just won’t last.

And while we certainly want to be friendly and feel warm-fuzzies toward our clients, there’s also something to be said for keeping somewhat of a friendly-but-professional distance. I have seen (and have had myself) more problems with clients when they get too comfy in the relationship and feel like they are “more than a client, I’m a friend.” This is a slippery slope, and I find most people end up having more trouble keeping and standing up for their boundaries when they find themselves in that kind of a relationship with a client.

It’s one of the reasons that friends and past employers do not often make for good clients.  With friends, there’s a sort of implicit or unconcious idea that they will be given special privileges and exceptions (“Can’t you do it my way, make this exception, just this once, for me? I thought we were friends!“). We hate to disappoint them and often find it more difficult to say “no” when we need to. With past employers, they too often come into the relationship mistakenly assuming that you will be working in the same employee/employer dynamic (which makes a proper, formal consultation even more important).

I’ve been there myself so I know exactly what you’re going through.

When you make changes and improvements in your business, some clients may happily stay and grow forward with you, and some may choose not to. That’s okay. Let those clients go who can’t get on board with how you need for your business to operate or they will stand in the way of your continued growth and evolution. Here are a few things you can do moving forward to help with these growing pains.

1. Start a living Client Guide. I say living because it should be a document that you continue to hone and develop throughout the life of your business. And what is a Client Guide, some may ask? It’s simply a handbook for clients that gives them all the information they need about getting the most out of your relationship and how things work in your business. It should outline your policies, procedures and protocols. It should include your standards and values for working together.  It should let them know how work is handled and how work requests are to be submitted to you. There are a whole host of things you can include and these will become evident as you continue along in your business. Whatever they need to know about how to work with you should be documented in this guide and given to all your clients.

By the way, a free guide to developing a New Client Welcome Kit (also known as the Client Guide) is included in our Whole Shebang and Biz Starter sets.

2. Have a New Client Orientation. Whenever a new retainer client comes on board with you, have a special welcoming meeting (on the phone or video chat) where you give them a refresher orientation on working together (how things work, what procedures they should follow, etc.)

3. Include the topic of standards, boundaries, policies and protocols in your consultation conversations. This discussion is important to finding fit with each other and helps ensure clients go into the relationship with proper understandings and expectations. Let them know that as your business grows and things change, you will always let them know ahead of time. It’s when clients are left in the dark and caught off-guard that they are most unhappy about changes.

4. Always let clients know of changes in your business. Whenever you enact a change in policy or protocol or what-have-you, be sure and let clients know. Depending on what kind of change it is, that can be in a formal letter, an email or your newsletter/ezine. Some may say it’s better to do so “in-person” over the phone. While it never hurts to have a follow-up conversation if clients need more clarification (like in your weekly telephone or video chat meeting), I think it’s important that a formal, written notice go out first to all your clients. Maintaining business formalities and protocols in this manner helps both of you remember that first and foremost, this is a business relationship.

5. Always follow your full consultation process and normal procedures. One of the biggest mistakes I see folks make in our business is taking shortcuts with their processes when it comes to friends, former employers as well as project/occasional clients who now are interested in ongoing retained support. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a prior relationship or how well you know (or think you know) a potential client, always, always go through your full, usual processes for consulting with them and bringing them onto your roster. This goes a long way toward helping instill proper boundaries and expectations with those clients right from the beginning so that they respect you and your business as a business. Remember, you might know each other, but they don’t know your business or how you do things in it. That’s partly what your consultation process and orientations are for. 😉

How to Raise Your Rates in 2012

It’s time to raise your rates for 2012! I know lots of people cringe at doing this, but honestly it’s much easier than you think. So here’s what you do…

First, send out 30 or 60 day notices to all your clients giving them a heads-up that fees will be increasing. I would wait until January to do this rather than right now in the middle of the holidays. (And ideally for next year, plan on doing this in October/November instead of January.)

Not sure how to word your notice? Simple is always best. Here is a sample script you can use:

Dear [CLIENT],

This letter is to let you know that the fee for your support plan will increase to $[NEW FEE AMOUNT] per month effective [DATE].

It is such a pleasure working with you, and I really love watching you grow and move forward in your business through our work together. [HERE, INCLUDE TWO OR THREE MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND GOALS YOU’VE HELPED THE CLIENT ACHIEVE. USE FACTS AND FIGURES, ESPECIALLY DOLLAR AND PERCENTAGE INCREASES, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE].

I look forward to continuing our wonderful relationship and helping you achieve your goals and dreams!

Sincerely,

[YOU]

You notice that in the second paragraph, you should bring up a few of the significant accomplishments and goals you’ve helped that particular client achieve through your work together. You should include facts and figures whenever possible.

If you aren’t yet, start trying to track and identify dollar and percent increases that your work and support is directly or indirectly responsible for (e.g., how many more clients have they been able to work with? How many hours of time were you able to put back in their pocket? How much more money have they made since working with you? How much have their profit percentages increased since then?).

These things serve as a reminder of your value (in terms of how it relates to them and their business) and why they continue to work with you. This is the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”) factor.

Just remember, you don’t need to offer excuses or drawn out explanations. You’re not asking for their permission because you’re not an employee and it’s not up to them. It’s YOUR business and you don’t answer to clients when it comes to those decisions. You being profitable and making sure you are stable, secure and growing financially actually helps clients because if you aren’t doing well, you will not be able to help clients as well as you could be.

If you have any other questions around the topic of raising fees, please do post in the comments and I’ll try to help. 🙂

If you REALLY want to learn how to earn better in your business for 2012, in ways that are WAY more client friendly and attractive, get my pricing and packaging guide: “How to Price and Package Your Support Based on Value and Expertise–NOT Selling Hours!” Click here to check it out!

Dear Danielle: Should I Get Payment Up Front?

Dear Danielle:

I have a billing question. Should I ask for payment up front or after the work is completed? –KH

You don’t mention whether this is for project work or retained services. Either way, I have some advice for ya. 😉

If you’re doing project work, it’s definitely a good idea to get some kind of up-front payment. Here’s how I do it in my business… if it’s under $500, I tend to require full payment upfront. If it’s anything over that, I require 50% upfront.

Remember, you aren’t a client’s bank and they need to have some skin in the game. They’ll take you and the work you are doing for them more seriously. Plus, getting at least some payment upfront will not only help mitigate your losses should you end up with a dead-beat client, but it will help avoid working with flakes in the first place.

When it comes to providing ongoing support work, clients are usually charged an upfront fee called a retainer. By it’s very nature, it is upfront because they are retaining your services in an ongoing relationship and guaranteeing your time and their place on your roster. There is no deposit or 50% when it comes to retainers. It’s in full, upfront.

Here are some older posts related to this topic that I think you’ll find useful as well:

Help! Client Not Paying!

How to Avoid Getting Stiffed on Payment

You want to also check out these categories on my blog here:

Billing
Getting Paid

Hope that helps!

Help! I Would Have No Clients If I Didn’t Rollover Hours

I’m holding a class on Consultations that Convert! on October 25 & 26, 2011. One participant writes:

“My consults seem to go great, but they are not resulting in actually getting the client. I struggle with actually asking for their business. I leave them to think about it, no pressure. I would like to learn how to effectively ask for business and how to fill my practice with more monthly paying clients rather than hourly. This has been a long-running isue in my business. Making this type of transition has been very difficult for me. It’s been a struggle to find clients who are willing to pay my rates. I have several clients who prefer my model of hourly rates in which unused hours rollover. If I didn’t offer this, I would like have no clients. The rollover model has been most appealing to clients, but I have to continue to seek out new clients just to make my expenses each month.”

There are two things going on here:

  1. You are telling yourself a self-fulfilling prophesy–that you would have no clients if you didn’t rollover hours. But the problem isn’t that clients wouldn’t retain you if you didn’t rollover hours–the problem is in how you framing your fees in your conversation with them. I can just about guarantee that the way you are talking about fees, you are selling hours to clients instead of the value and results you will bring to their business. We need to change your message and how and when you are talking about fees and that’s going to change the game for you entirely.
  2. The other thing that’s going on, as you recognize, is how you are following up (or not, as the case may be). We are going to delve deep into this during the class. There are definitely specific steps you should be taking upon conclusion of your consultations and we’re going to cover those in class. You may be surprised to know that there are also certain things you need to be doing before a client ever contacts you that will definitely affect your success in following up and getting the client’s business.

If you struggle with similar issues in your business when it comes to consultations, I invite you to join us for my Consultations that Convert class on October 25 & 25. It’s gonna be a lot of fun AND most importantly, you’re going to learn LARGE. Love to have you there!

PS: Since we still have seats left, I’m going to extend the registration deadline to October 21, which means there’s still time for you to join us!

Help! I’m Shy and Conducting Consultations Is Scary!

I’m holding a class on Consultations that Convert! on October 25 & 26, 2011. One participant writes:

“I’m definitely a shy one so just getting out there is a big step for me. Also, convincing small business owners that they don’t need to and shouldn’t be doing it all themselves is the other area holding me back. I guess I feel like I need a giant poster to hit them over the head with to show them why a lot of small businesses fail and how not to be one of them by utilizing my services. And then I start doubting mysefl, if I’m really all that. HELP!!!! I know they need someone like me. I know I can do it. So what’s wrong with me?”

Well, first, there’s nothing wrong with you! (But don’t go bonking anyone over the head, lol)

We all go through this when we first start out our businesses. It can be really scary and intimidating to put yourself out there, step outside your comfort zones and talk to what are essentially strangers.

Here are two quick thoughts that will really liberate you:

  1. If you are someone who is shy or introverted, having a plan–a process, a system–for conducting your consultations is going to be a HUGE confidence booster. It’s going to make things really easy and by leading your process, you instill a ton of confidence and trust in your potential clients.
  2. Conducting consultations is not about selling or convincing. It’s about drawing out and bringing to light and clarity that which your potential client struggles with and showing them how you can really help them. It’s all about the conversation. Once you let go of that idea, it will help you have more heartful, human-to-human connection in your consultations.

Of course, there are a lot of details and learning to fill in here which is why, if you struggle with conducting consultations and clients aren’t retaining you, I invite you to join us for my Consultations that Convert class on October 25 & 25. It’s gonna be a lot of fun AND most importantly, you are going to learn LARGE. Love to have you there!

PS: Midnight tonight is the last chance to save $50 on registation so be sure and register now!