It is coming to that time of year where time seems to speed up considerably! The amount of projects that clients want completed by Christmas, as well as the events in our own personal life, bring in an added amount of pressure on top of what we already experience as business owners.
It is amazing how many business owners crawl into the Christmas break exhausted mentally and physically, only to miss out on the quality time with their friends and family as they are often recovering and not fully present.
So, how about this year you choose something slightly different.
Remember, the only one who creates your schedule is…you! However, with wanting to look after customers, it can be often be a compromise of your own personal values and time by saying yes to requests that at the time you have no clarity on how you’ll accomplish!
Here are some suggestions on how to manage the expectations of yourself and customers leading up to Christmas.
1.You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.
Ultimately, you get to choose your schedule, your clients, and the projects that you take on or not take on. There is often an illusion/story that trade business owners subscribe to that says “If I say no to a customer this year around Christmas, it means they will say no to me for future work moving forward.” Is this the truth – really? The answer is no. Ensure you keep space in your calendar moving up towards Christmas for the unexpected, and also in particular, for some short rest periods for yourself so that you can maintain your energy and focus amidst the whirlwind.
2. Set and manage the expectations.
If you have some key clients or are working on a key project at this point in time, I suggest that you communicate as soon as possible with all customers that leading up to Christmas there will be a limited opportunity to book in extra work or complete variations on existing projects to be done by Christmas. Suggest that if there are variations or added work that may be requested, now is the time to book them into the calendar to ensure that key customers are looked after. If nothing is shared by customers, when it comes closer to Christmas and the possible request comes in, you can refer them back to the conversation that you had four or five weeks ago and mention that although you would love to, it is not possible as your calendar is already full.
3. Mention that you are at capacity.
When someone requests extra work or to book in a job that you feel is unreasonable to get done by Christmas or even fit in to your calendar, use the following phrase:
“Thank you for asking. I would really love to assist you however, our team is already at capacity and we are unable to fit you into the calendar. I know this may be disappointing, however, as you can expect, at this time of year, we are booked out well in advance. However, if it helps, I would love to refer you to (another contractor in your trade).”
When using the word ‘capacity’ it is sending a message to your customers that your schedule is full, and full because you are good! Therefore you create a perception that you are in demand regularly, which does wonders to build the quality of your brand.
Last but not least, release the pressure on yourself to ‘have’ to do extra work time at this time of year. In fact, I suggest you actually look at what you can let go of, delegate and ‘stop doing’ to enter into this Christmas period with flow and ease.
The above may seem easier said than done, however it gives you some scope to create a plan – which is always better than no plan. All the best.
Written by Jon Mailer
CEO of PROTRADE United.