Managing my clients’ expectations is a huge and SUPER important part of my job as the sole owner of my business. It’s up to me to make sure that there are no misunderstandings, that my clients understand what we’re going to do and when. That they understand and agree to the terms of my contract. It is imperative that we’re all on the same page.
I can only imagine that we all have struggles when it comes to managing our client’s expectations throughout the course of a job. I want to share a just a few of the things that I come across on the different kinds of jobs that we handle and how we handle them. Maybe the types of situations that arise for you are different but hopefully you can take away something from these examples and apply them in your life or business.
First and foremost, I tell it like it is. I don’t sugar coat anything. Those of you who know me already know that I’m a straight shooter. It works for me. It works for them.
We’re not magicians. We can’t make room where there isn’t any. If there’s no room, we let our clients know that they have to get rid of something somehow. They can sell, donate, trash or put it in storage (which we do NOT usually recommend). Or, they can build more shelves or remodel and add a closet. We do an amazing job organizing anything and everything in the house BUT there’s gotta be room to put things away where they belong.
Paper takes time. It’s tedious and time consuming. It seems that most people (and this is from my personal experience) aren’t sure what to do with their papers. So, they just keep everything just in case. They’re not sure when or what to archive, how long to keep something, if something should be shredded or just tossed so, they just don’t do anything and then it just builds and builds until there a voluminous amount of paperwork to deal with. I always suggest that having a goal in mind will help in determining how to move forward. Budget is also an important consideration. Once our client figures out what they want to do, we will sort through everything, archive whatever needs to be saved for the long term, toss the trash, shred anything with an account number and then implement a filing system tailored to their needs.
Everyone thinks that their “stuff” is priceless. On rare occasions we come across items of significant value but, for the most part, we all have stuff. Nice stuff probably, but not extremely valuable. So, our advice is, if they want to sell something, they should probably do their homework first so they are educated about the value. It’s as easy as looking it up on e-bay or Amazon. When we tell them, something isn’t valuable or worth selling it’s not to insult them, it’s to make sure they understand that they are not going to get a lot of money selling “stuff” that isn’t valuable. Further, just because they paid a lot of money for something doesn’t mean it still holds that value. Also, just because their grandmother gave them something doesn’t mean its an antique and doesn’t mean that it is valuable. It may be valuable to them but not to anyone else. The truth hurts! Ouch. If there’s enough value, we will do an amazing job selling their treasures and will do so ethically and responsibly.
If we can’t sell their valuables, we will offer to either take their donations and drop them off or coordinate a pick-up. BUT we do not donate everything that they don’t want. We let our clients know that we are selective so that we don’t inundate the donation companies with items we know they won’t take. Because we do this kind of work daily, we must be respectful and only donate items that the donation companies can use or sell. As a reminder, most donation companies will not take anything that is: ripped, stained, missing a piece, broken, old and/or large furnishings (i.e., floral upholstered couches, armoires).
When moving companies say that they will unpack we make sure that our clients understand what that means. Most moving companies that offer unpacking services will open the boxes and put the contents on a shelf or counter but will not put anything away. Others might offer to put things away but they don’t care where anything goes. They don’t unpack with an eye towards functionality, accessibility or organization. However, we do! We will unpack EVERYTHING in 1-3 days (depending on volume). We will unpack so that everything is organized, functional, accessible and is easy to maintain.
We clear we do not clean. While we will occasionally sweep or wipe down a shelf, it is not part of the job nor something we want to or are hired to do. This is something that clients/potential clients need to know. They need to be prepared with a rag, cleaning product, dust buster or vacuum if they think they’d like to wipe down or clean areas that we’re working on. They can also have their housekeeper there on the same day to clean as we go to keep things moving along. We are happy to recommend cleaning services that we have worked with over the years and have vetted.
Communication is key. I do my best to leave the lines of communication open at all times to avoid any misunderstandings. We always return calls, texts and emails in the same day. Always!