(Image via Ed Meyer CPA)

Over the years, I’ve learned to establish a very clear protocol with all of my clients. Setting boundaries is imperative. In the coming weeks I’d like to set aside Thursdays to discuss different strategies for establishing and maintaining these boundaries.

Let’s start at the very beginning:

1. A client calls or emails you about your services.

2. You schedule a first meeting. (Always have a face-to-face meeting; You are your own best sales representative!)

3. During the meeting, act as if you were entertaining a guest in your home. Offer your potential client something to drink and have a plate of light snacks like nuts, fruit or cookies. If it’s late afternoon or early evening, you can even offer a glass of good wine.

4. Your number one priority during this first meeting is to establish trust. You should be focused on learning your clients’ needs and dreams. If you aren’t already, you must learn to become a generous listener.

5. At the end of this first meeting, remember to tell your potential client how excited you are about their event and that you would love to be a part of it.

6. Follow up with a thank you note. You could even send a small bouquet of flowers with a note saying how wonderful it was to meet them. Clients always remember this gesture, even if they decide to hire someone else.

7. Your potential client now has a decision to make. While they’re deciding who to hire, remember that accessibility is key. It’s perfectly fine to email or call your potential client and offer to answer any questions they may have about you or your services. Keep the lines of communication open!

8. Most potential clients will ask for some kind of proposal. These proposals can take a great deal of time and effort. Make sure that you create your proposal promptly, and, if possible, present it in person. You want to be able to immediately clarify any points your potential client doesn’t understand.

9. If you’re offering a specific service, provide an exact cost. However, if you’re offering design services, give a price range instead.

10. You get that fabulous call, the one we all love: they want to hire you. You are jumping for joy!

Next Thursday, I’ll discuss the ten most common challenges you face after getting the job. (My biggest challenge, as you probably know, has always been explaining to clients what things actually cost!)

Dear Readers, which of the above ten steps usually gives you the most trouble? Do you struggle with face-to-face first meetings or do you have a hard time drafting proposals? Please share.

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