Laura, great post! Luckily the the only way I lose clients is that they go out of business. With the state of the economy over the past two years and still now, there have been a few that have, unfortunately, gone out of business. There have been the occasional client that has left for whatever reason, but most of the time they were a trouble client anyways. Others might have only wanted me for a one-time project/task, so I didn’t even really count them in my client base. I have some tips to help you to make sure that you are protected from losing clients:
1. Communicate everything – Be prompt and detailed in your responses. If you have a question about some work, give them a call or shoot out an email. It’s better to ask “too many” questions then to do a job wrong and look bad.
2. Handle objections/questions before they even come up – Most freelancers have a process they go through when they do work, tell your client about this so they know what is happening. Most clients have no idea how much time some things take, an educated client is a happy one. For example, I do a lot of web maintenance for clients. When I get a new potential client that is interested in that service. I tell them my price for the work, and the process: Most simple text/image changes are done within 2 business days, programming changes can take up to 5 business days. If it’s something I think will be more than 5 business days, I will let you know in advance. Once the work has been done, I will notify you so that you can double check to make sure everything is done correctly.
By doing this it sets the stage for your clients’ expectations. Sometimes clients think it will take “5 minutes” to make a change because it seems simple. While this might be the case, you cannot put down other current work just to make their change. Give yourself ample time to finish the work. If you are continually bouncing around doing different clients’ work, you will never get anything done. Schedule it and let them know it will be done.
3. Stay in touch – As you stated above, some people just forget about you. It’s not that you did a bad job, your clients just don’t think of you on a daily basis. If you haven’t heard from a client in a while, just send them a quick email asking how business is. You would be amazed with the response you get. Some people want your services again, but it’s just not always a top priority for them. A little poke might be what they need to get the ball rolling. I send out emails, letters, personal notes, newsletters, and cards around the holidays. If you keep in touch with your clients your business will flourish.
I hope that helped!