Managing multiple clients is a challenge every business owner hopes to face at some point – having to balance managing that one big client you’re thrilled to have landed, and still getting everything done for all your other clients.
On the one hand, you want to go all out for your biggest client to make sure you keep them happy. Crazy tight turnaround times? No problem! Tons of out-of-scope requests? Bring ‘em on! After all, they are paying you more, right? And you certainly don’t want to lose them.
But if all that extra work causes you to start neglecting other clients, it won’t be long before your biggest client is your only client – and that can be disastrous.
So how can you find balance and keep everyone happy, from your biggest to your smallest client? Here are my top three tips:
1. Get Really Organized
If you were already juggling multiple clients before you closed the deal with your biggest, then already have an organizational system in place that works for you. But when you’re dealing with all those clients plus a big one that may take up as much bandwidth as several others, you’re going to have to get hyper-organized.
Without a tool that lets everyone involved clearly see tasks and deadlines, as well as communicate with each other, things will eventually start slipping through the cracks. And without a solid time management plan for yourself and your team, you’ll have difficulties fitting in all that extra work. Try online tools like Basecamp or Trello, and time management apps like Toggl or Focus Booster.
2. Have a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan
At some point, there will come a day when your biggest client hands you a huge project due tomorrow, three of your other clients have urgent work they need completed, and a fourth one urgently needs you to adjust a project you thought was complete. Two of your employees will call in sick, and some tool vital to the running of your business will break down. When that day comes, no amount of tearing your hair out will make your resources stretch enough to do it all.
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That’s why it’s vital to have a multi-layer backup plan in place. Try out freelancers and contractors before you need them, and find out what their availability is like, so that you know who you can call to get the job done when you’re in a pinch. Decide on an overtime policy, in case you have to ask your team to work extra hours. And find solid workarounds or replacement options for your tools before they die on you. Without a plan in place, things can quickly start crashing down all around you.
3. Be Proactive
As much as it’s a business cliché, it’s still true – being proactive is one of the best ways to ensure that you always meet your clients’ expectations.
Anticipate issues that might arise in advance, and work them into your contract so that all your clients, big and small, know from the outset what they can and can’t ask for. That’s not to say you can’t go above and beyond if you determine you have the resources – but then the client will recognize that you’re going the extra mile for them, and appreciate you all the more for it. Ask clients often for information on any upcoming projects, and remind them of the lead time you need to get it done, so that you can work bigger projects into your schedule more easily.
By getting organized, putting a backup plan in place, and being proactive, you’ll be able to handle your biggest client and all your regular clients so well that you just might gain a few more of those big clients – and what a great problem to have!
About Shama Hyder
Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.
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