How to Handle Time-Wasting Clients [Wellbeing Business Hack]
31st Oct 22
We use the term ‘Time-Wasting’. Yet, what we really mean is someone or a scenario that eats away at your precious time. Intentionally or unintentionally just because you’re not clear on your boundaries!
To help you get a head start with boundary management. We’ve put together six types of time-wasting clients that most of us have faced at some point.
We’ve detailed their traits, together with the ways in which you can handle them. Naturally all in a professional manner whilst keeping your boundaries intact!
We’ve also thrown in scripts to use to help prevent you being in the situation again. You can thank us later!
1. The Time-Wasting Canceller
Have you been lucky enough not to experience this type of Time-Wasting client? Or do you know exactly who we’re talking about?
Either way, these individuals can feel hard to manage within your business, as they book with you – but cancel regularly!
We know life happens, things come up out of the blue and people can be forgetful too! But this can impact your earnings and your professional relationships. Especially if you start to begrudge your client for constantly cancelling.
Let’s be honest, even if your feelings are justified. When you feel like this, you’re no longer working from the best place possible.
How To Manage ‘Serial Cancellers’
Now some people confuse being ‘straightforward’ with being rude, but if done right, it won’t be!
You can get your point across without coming off as rude. Simply explain that on a number of occasions there has been last minute cancellations. State this as a general statement, without directing it personally at them.
Share with them the implications this has on your business e.g., unable to fill spots at short notice & lost revenue. Go on to explain that therefore moving forward you will be implementing a deposit or full payment system (whatever works best for you) with a 24/48-hour policy.
Make it clear that if notice is not given, full payment will be due.
Then get to it – sort out the paperwork, make it official!
2. The Time-Wasting – Virtual Therapist Lover
You know who we’re talking about!
You try to help them and answer their questions regarding their symptoms or situation via email or messenger over a long period of time – could be months, even years (taking up a huge chunk of your time)!
Then you realise they’ve never actually ever booked an appointment or seen you in real life! Yet you’ve invested countless amounts of hours on them.
Virtual Therapist Lovers are usually looking for a freebie. They never have, nor are they ever likely to book an appointment with you – and why would they need to?
When you’re already helping them for free!
We of course know that what you’re doing is coming from a good place, but when you look at it, you’re depriving yourself of your time and money!
How To Manage ‘Virtual Therapist Lovers’
Don’t feel bad, remind yourself that the continual help & support they are seeking for free is actually paid for by your other clients/customers.
Hi . . .
I’m sorry you’ve been feeling this way, I’m extremely busy at the moment and as you are aware I have happily given up a lot of my time and knowledge already free of charge. Due to the current demands of my business, I only have time to conduct sessions for my paying clients, are you looking to book?
Should they come back still wanting attention try . . .
I hope you can appreciate that my time is precious, and I have many responsibilities. I’d love to help you and if you’d like to book a session, we can discuss what you’ve got going on at your appointment time.
3. The Night Owl Texters
Have these people no sense of time?
It can be midnight, 1, 2 o’clock in the morning and you can hear your phone pinging away!
You check to see if it’s something important and there waiting for you is a message from a client, asking to book an appointment? Really? It’s not that you are not grateful, it’s just – you’re still half asleep!
We completely understand that the century and industry we work in can result in 24 hr messaging. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be disturbed by it!
How To Manage This Type of Time-Wasting Client
Some people believe “always on” is the way to stay ahead of competitors, but it can harm your health and work quality. How can you give your best to a client if they’re calling you/messaging you in out of hours or in the middle of the night? You’ll most likely become resentful of it!
The best time to deal with this situation is at the start of your working relationship. Explain what your working hours are and that you’re not available in the evenings or weekends (or whatever time schedule suits you).
Here’s some other helpful tips:
- Turn on your mobile’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. Your clients may only just remember late at night to get in touch, messaging you without expecting to disturb or receive an immediate reply. Let your ‘Do Not Disturb’ take care of it and get back to them when you’re working next. Answering instantly every time gives the impression, you’re “always available.”
- Turn your phone off. Especially if you struggle to ignore a pinging phone!
- Turn off instant messaging on Facebook chat and similar tools. If clients contact you by instant messaging or on other platforms, remember to turn off the service at night.
- Invest in a business phone you can switch off. There are many ‘pay as you go’ phones available that can stop this becoming a problem, without a big expense.
- Post your business hours. List your hours on your website/social media and on your voicemail/ instant reply-message or indicate the best time to reach you. Most prospective clients will respect your hours if they see your schedule.
4. The Back & Forth Time-Wasting Client
These are usually your dependable clients. But boy can they take up a lot of time, with endless amounts of back-and-forth messaging.
Arranging an actual appointment, can stretch over a few days! These can be the clients you’ve built up a good relationship with over time. Of course, you’re interested in their progress and what’s been going on with them. However, you’re aware it takes up huge chunks of your time.
If we’re not just talking one client that does this in your business, but instead one of many, when you add all the time up, you’ll be looking at hours and hours of lost time!
How To Manage This Type of Time-Wasting
Remind yourself that keeping a professional distance doesn’t mean that you don’t care. It just helps to make it clear to clients/customers that any discussion around support etc needs to take place when they see you in person.
This is where booking management systems and similar structures work wonders for your businesses.
They help to cut down on the back and forth, so you can focus on what you do best (you know the actual practice!). Plus, they help you create a healthier work/life balance, as you don’t have to manage this side of your business.
With a booking management system your potential or returning clients will be able to see your available times for themselves. Meaning they don’t need to get in contact for appointments or to re-arrange them, as they’ll have access to your calendar.
Of course, there are many bookings software available, but in case you’re not in the know, we offer this as a Store Seller at Wellbeing Umbrella too.
5. The Slow Payers
First, where appropriate, we hope you’re taking deposits and payments upfront in your business.
If you’re not, you could seriously risk finding out the hard way exactly why you should do. Taking a deposit or upfront payment increases the likelihood of getting paid in full and reduces the risk of no shows.
For those that do take deposits or payments you’ll be fully aware that ‘Slow Payers’ are the ones that have no sense of urgency!
No matter how much advance warning of deposit/payment time you give them, there are always those you must chase time and time again.
How To Manage ‘The Slow Payers’
Assert yourself and remind yourself that a deposit or payment keeps your client invested in the process/treatment and you fully/partially covered.
Warning: we’re going to pipe on about a bookings system again!
But seriously, having an automated bookings system in place would save you the headache of chasing people for deposits and final balances. As gaining monies when a client books or shows interest in your offerings (i.e. workshop, service, or retreat) will all be taken care of at the outset.
However, if you prefer to contact them directly, maybe a prepared script like the one below will do the trick.
Hi . . .
This is a gentle/friendly reminder that your deposits/final balance of £… is now due for [state the service/product].
This requires settling by [state deadline date]. Once this is taken care of we can move on to the next stage [state what that is i.e. sending out information, welcome pack etc]. Please be aware that failure to settle payment by date stated, will result in [state the consequence i.e., the cancellation of your appointment, space on the retreat etc].
6. Foul-Weather Folk.
These time-wasting clients are usually your last-minute bookers and don’t need you when the sun is shining!
They say they need an appointment for the same day or a.s.a.p. Despite your diary being fully booked for weeks, and they’ll need to wait, they still take a slot.
However, what tends to happen with Foul-Weather Folk is that by the time their appointment comes round, they feel better!
Great, a free appointment slot for those that need it we hear you say! However, foul weather folk don’t cancel nor show up.
Yet, they’ll happily get back in touch again when in need of your service’s ‘ASAP’.
How To Manage ‘Foul-Weather Folk’
Firstly, don’t feel bad for having to address this as an issue with clients/customers. If they’ve genuinely forgotten to cancel, they’ll most probably understand the action you’ll need to take in the future.
It’s helpful to have a policy system in place that allows you to gain payment in advance to prevent you losing out from a client’s non-attendance of a booked appointment.
If you don’t have this in place, make clear to new clients that you require a deposit or full payment upfront, before you can confirm their booking. If they’ve let you down prior, don’t be afraid to call them out on this (politely of course)!
For instance –
‘yes of course I can book you in, however unfortunately you failed to make it to our last scheduled appointment, therefore moving forward I will require payment in full prior to our sessions’.
Policies To Keep Time-Wasting at Bay
To help keep time-wasting at bay and avoid any confusion within your business have your own policies in place. This makes sure everything is clear and in writing. Whether it’s a lateness policy, a no-show policy, refund policy or payment policy. Policies are so important and will help you effectively reduce and manage time wasters.
Have everything clear in writing and give this to your client in advance. This gives them chance to agree to your terms BEFORE you start working together. It helps you and your client know exactly what’s going to happen and prevents any misunderstandings in the event of cancellation or lateness.
Be sure you have a clear policies page on your website, so that clients can remind their selves.
Don’t worry about it being all fancy, for lateness/no shows a policy could be something as simple as . . .
My time is valuable as is yours, please note if you’re late for your appointment, you will lose that time allocated to you. For instance, if your appointment is 11am -12pm and you arrive at 11.20am you will lose 20 minutes, but still be charged in full for the hour.
If you fail to show up for your appointment you will be charged in full.
In turn, I will honour our appointments and be on time as well.
Should you prefer a readymade copy. There are also plenty of legal companies such as Simply Docs you could use for template policies and agreements.