How to Maintain Client Relationships as a Freelancer
Freelancer life is full of ebbs and flows when it comes to the workload and earnings, making it increasingly difficult to think long-term and forge long-lasting relationship with your clients. Time and time again we see freelancers focus solely on what’s in front of them; the money coming in every month, which means that they lose sight of the future and don’t put time or energy into building a strong rapport with their clients.
Sustaining your freelance career through the people you meet isn’t impossible – in fact, it can be done primarily through the relationships you build every day. At 3 Wise Bears we’re lucky enough to work with a wide range of experienced freelancers in a plethora of industries. They’ve given us insight on how they maintain a good relationship with their clients, helping them to prosper in their field.
Don’t Just Focus on New Business
Freelancers need to get the delicate balance between hustling for new clients and giving their existing clients the best service possible. After all, client retention is crucial for every freelancer, as that is where the main source of business is coming from. According to Annex Cloud, recruiting new clients costs five times as much as retaining current clients, and it is 16 times as costly to build a long-term business relationship with a new customer than to spend time building a rapport with an existing customer. Alongside this, the chances of upselling your services and winning other projects are much higher with existing clients, in comparison to the 5% chance of selling to a new client. Ensuring you nurture your existing clients while you’re scoping for new business will not only help pay your bills, it will show your clients that you really care.
Consistency is crucial for any freelancer wanting to cement their client relationships – after all, trust is built between a freelancer and their client by delivering work to a deadline and ensuring it is always of the highest standard. An added benefit of being consistent means that you’re being honest and realistic about what you can and cannot achieve, while giving 110%.
Talk Responsibility for Communication
Communication is key if you want to build a strong rapport with your client, so you need to make sure you stay in touch regularly. Find out what your clients’ preferred method of contact is and whether they want to hear from you daily, weekly, bi-weekly etc. Sending weekly updates with what you’ve completed and what’s on the agenda for the following week will help cement a good relationship, as you’re being transparent. If you feel like you’re getting lost in your client’s inbox, then revert to the old fashioned method of picking up the phone!
Tardiness is Never Acceptable
Whether you’re seeing a client, meeting a deadline or sending an invoice, it is never acceptable to be late (unless the circumstances are extreme). Running late for meetings and missing deadlines will damage expectations and break any form of trust you’ve built with your client. It also shows them that they are not a priority. There is no place for tardiness in a freelancer’s world.
Set Boundaries and Maintain Them
When you communicate boundaries at the beginning of a project, you’ll be able to manage your client’s expectations much easier. At the start of any project, do the following:
- Draw up a contract clearly stating all the deliverables and the payment terms.
- Send out invoices and billings in a professional and timely manner, giving them enough time to pay (this is made so much easier with FreeAgent accounting software).
- Outline your office hours and try not to respond to emails outside of them.
- Lead by example and respect your client’s boundaries.
When you outline boundaries with work relationships, you’ll be helping to manage expectations. Solid communication will help you keep your clients happy, increasing your chances of them sticking around.
Add a Human Touch
Small, thoughtful gestures such as sending a birthday card and a box of chocolates will make a big impression and show your clients that you care. While sending a congratulatory email or liking a post on their social media channels shows support, digital habits are slowly but surely diluting relationships both in and outside of work. So, how do you stay on top of your clients’ birthdays, life events and so much more? It’s simple, keep a calendar of important dates (and set reminders a week before so that you can sort something out). Reach out to existing and potential clients when it counts. Subscribe to your clients’ news feeds, set Google Alerts that track their brand name – congratulate them when something big happens. By adding that human touch, you’ll be showing that you care, and it may open a door to future projects.
Stay on Top of your Workload
Maintaining a healthy client relationship is much easier to do when you’re effectively managing your workflow and staying on top of the workload – when you choose 3 Wise Bears’ to facilitate your freelancer accountancy requirements, you’re alleviating the workload. This means you’ll have time to focus on your projects, while 3 Wise Bears support you in the background. If you are looking to grow your client base, there are Freelancing tools which can help you look for jobs and showcase your work which can be a great help.
3 Wise Bears’ FreeAgent accounting software means that you can keep on top of your expenses, send out invoices and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to your accountancy needs, giving you one less thing to worry about. Get in touch with 3 Wise Bears today.