"All things equal... People will do business with, and refer business to, People They Know, Trust, and Like."
As an independent Web Solutions Consultant, meeting a new client is always wonderful. It means more work is coming your way. It means your horizons just expanded. That client may know others interested in similar work. But getting the job, and doing the work are two very different things.
This article is not so focused on the complexities of building a website as it is your relationship with your clients.
As your work progresses, your client may have challenging and unexpected requests. They may be intelligent and detailed with an eye on every little change. They may be vague and non-interested, producing very little information to go on... or anywhere in between.
Consultants, especially in technology are hardy people. We can take the most difficult of challenging situations, and work them through until there is an understanding of both parties. There is a lot more you can do to optimize your relationship with your client, however.
- The first thing is to build trust. Everything you do for a client should be backed up with the integrity you would expect for yourself. Be straightforward and up front with your clients about the scope of your services. Submit an accurate and detailed estimate and don't sway from it.
- The next thing is to show your expertise. A business runs smoothly by downright truth. Don't brag, exaggerate or over-estimate your skills. This adds what I call a negative slant to your business relationship with your client. Your professionalism will show simply by doing the work and outlining the necessary details to the client as you progress. Remember, the people who are most awesome in their job don't need to qualify it.
- Next is to keep a running conversation. Let your clients know what you are doing and where you are in the process. Remember they are paying you... potentially a lot of money. Just keeping in contact will assure them that they are a priority. This is a necessity in maintaining a good relationship.
- Finally, price your services fairly. It doesn't matter how little or how much your actual rate is. What matters is that you don't bulk up your estimate with lame or barely recognizable services.
Remember, every client is vital to your future. They are ingrained in your marketing, with their testimonials and recommendations to their friends and business associates. They are the key elements to your reputation in your profession.
Our world is depressingly attuned to bad business practices. By running yours honestly, ethically, and professionally, you are making the world a better place.