One of the bigger frustrations we hear from OBMs is how often their clients have “last minute requests”… and how draining it can be to try and manage all those requests.
There are a couple of steps to fix this:
Step #1 – get clear on your boundaries
We talk about this alot in the OBM Training program as it is the heart of the issue. Have you set your boundaries around working hours? Turn around times? What you can (and cannot) do for your clients? If you haven’t done so then there is no “framework” around your business. You simply end up saying yes to everything, getting frustrated and feeling like you can never keep up (and ultimately end up dropping balls and wondering why the heck you are doing this work anyhow.) You need to decide on your boundaries BEFORE you can ever fix this problem – it starts with you making those decisions.
Step #2 – enforce those boundaries
You need to communicate and enforce those boundaries. Let your clients know what your working hours are (when you are available and not), your turnaround times (how much advance notice you and the team need to get stuff done) and what you can do personally (vs. what will need to be given to someone else.) Now here comes the tough part:
You need to ENFORCE those boundaries – in other words you need to learn to “just say no.”
Now I get it guys – this can be really hard to do. I know most OBMs/VAs and such have a really hard time saying no because we love our clients and want to support them right? And if you have people pleasing tendencies at all (like I do) then this is a double whammy to deal with. But here’s the scoop – if you don’t enforce your boundaries your clients will continue to give you last minute stuff. Why? Because you are saying yes. (As Dr. Phil says, we teach people how to treat us.)
I believe that saying no to last minute stuff is ultimately a gift to a client – as it forces the client (and the business) to become more proactive. To plan ahead and be really strategic with the business vs. just coming up with stuff on the fly and making everything have to happen “now!” This is essential to growing a biz in the long run, it’s actually about maturing the way the business is run.
And yes, your clients might be annoyed/upset with you saying no – especially if you have been saying yes to date – and that is something you’ll need to be OK with. If you’ve communicated your boundaries already to them then you are coming from a fair place. You can say yes on your terms and still serve your clients in the long run.