|How to Tell your Clients you are becoming Location Independent|
|Written by Jessica on March 20, 2011|
We're not contemplating whether you should or shouldn't tell your clients you are traveling. You should. The question is how.
Don’t NOT tell them
Seriously. You’re clients might not actually care, but do them the honor of at least telling them. The few clients I didn’t tell were more irritated that I didn’t mention it than that I was actually gone.
The sooner you can mention that you are considering becoming location independent, the better. I started a year in advance. In the fall I usually take the opportunity to reconnect with all my clients, explain any changes in policies or rates. I included in my standard email that our business would likely become 100% remote the following fall. I didn’t provide details right away, I just gave them a friendly heads up.
Don’t say it like it’s not a big deal
It is a big deal. But most of my clients didn’t care as long as I the work got done. They appreciated that I was open, honest and realistic about the challenges of working from the other side of the world.
Be willing to negotiate
Don’t just be willing to negotiate, make an offer. Know the points you’re willing to compromise to keep a client happy and mention it.
You’re leaving for a good reason. You’re traveling for a good reason. There are parts of traveling that you love -- and working, unfortunately, can get in the way of those. Decide what you are willing to sacrifice to make some cash, and more importantly, what you aren’t willing to sacrifice while traveling.
Ask what they think
The smartest move I made when I decided to take my business remote was to ask my biggest clients what they thought. In person. I bought them lunch and said, “What would you think if I permanently left the Seattle area and worked remotely from around the world?”
Some clients I realized I couldn’t please. Others just needed reassurance in simple ways to make them comfortable with the new arrangement.
Realize you can’t make everyone happy
This was the hardest part for me. There were clients that just simply would not be satisfied if I couldn’t come into their office for a meeting once a month, or that I couldn’t respond to emails everyday between 9 and 5. Pick your battles carefully. When you can’t win, politely admit defeat and concentrate your efforts elsewhere.
Advice for dealing with different types of clients
Some of my clients need special attention. Here are a few scenarios I ran into and how I dealt with them.
The client you’re scared to death of losing:
Analyze the situation. Why do they want you and what could put that at risk? My top four clients contribute to more than 85% of my business. I know all of them very well. I made a spreadsheet (mostly because I’m a dork) and charted all the types of business they gave me. Then I wrote down what each project required and what income I could earn.
After making this chart I realized my best clients gave me many different types of work. And only one of those was jeopardized by traveling. For example, client 1 above needed me to work big on site events which require me to fly back to the states. I knew I couldn’t expect that client to pay the extra airfare to fly me to the event from Timbuktu. Fortunately I was still capable of completing all of the other projects while traveling.
The client you’d really like to lose
There’s always at least one. That thorn in your side that always calls at just the wrong time. It’s always just “a simple fix” and 16 hours later you’re still working on their “simple fix”. There are a hundred easy ways to fire a client, but you should resist the urge to burn bridges.
If you don’t want the hassle any longer, politely explain that you think your new lifestyle won’t allow for this type of work. Six months later, when things are slow and you’re hurting for cash, it’s good to have the ability to look up this client again.
The last minute client
The question you have to answer is: are you still willing to do last minute work?
The once-in-a-blue-moon client
They call you up maybe once a year. You never really know if it’s worth the trouble to fill out another set of take paperwork and write a giant statement of work for 10 billable hours.