Hitting deadlines is key in any working capacity, especially when you have been the one to set the deadline in the first place! A client can be as late as they like (within reason) but you can NEVER BE LATE.
Chunk Of Time
Here comes some super obvious advice: always build in more time than you need. It goes without saying but this will save your ass when that simple thing ends up taking longer than you imagine. It also gives you more time for prospecting/other clients/things that come out the blue.
More Time = More Value
It’s also important to note that something that takes more time has more value associated with it. Fast food is cheaper than fine dining as an example. During a project a client might ask you to make changes. Now these changes may only take you an hour, but saying it will take a day creates the impression of it being more work and you of being more value. It also sets a president for the future, if a client thinks that all changes are quick and therefore easy, they are much more likely to make them, which can cause you headaches down the line.
Someone asked me the other day if “overestimating” a project time scale is dishonest when you consider that you are charging by the hour and to this I say No. Prospecting a client, communicating with a client, waiting to be paid, these all add up and eat away your time. As an example people would often ask me if I could charge a half day for filming, well unless that shoot is around the corner I have to travel, that’s time away from the office, time I could be earning, and time is money. I’m not encouraging people to lie about timescales, i’m just saying that you’re not exclusively charging for the actual work being done.
Another aspect of timing is getting used to your clients’ timing and vice versa. Finding out when is best for them for them to talk is key when you need them to make decisions. I used to have a little routine with a client, we used to phone each other throughout the day, each time missing the other until at 6pm he was home and we’d skype for half an hour. That was the best time to get him, so I made sure if I was working on his projects that I was in the office at that time.
The same can be said of yourself of course. No one wants to give the impression they sleep in until 12, roll out of bed and then call it a day at 4pm. Being a freelancer means you are in charge of getting the most out of yourself and how you work best. Be sure to tell clients in advance about daily things like picking the kids up from school, so they know in advance why they can’t reach you.
Timings are a key consideration in ensuring you have good client relations. When you plan well, it’s like you never needed to plan in the first place.