10 Rules for Better Managing Client Expectations

10 Rules for Better Managing Client Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day. To establish credibility and create trust, it’s important to communicate timelines effectively. That’s why we asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What’s one rule for better managing client expectations early in a relationship?”

Managing Client Expectations

Here’s what YEC members had to say:

1. Create Boundaries

“I was guilty early on of going way beyond the scope of my work with my clients, and I ultimately realized it was because I allowed them to take advantage of me. The solution was that I had to create boundaries by saying no when necessary or training clients on what to expect, both by overtly stating it and by modeling it.” ~ Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40

2. Create an Online Flowchart

“This goes back to technology, so pick a great CRM with job-flow charts. I stole this from Amazon — you can see exactly where your package is at any moment with the click of a button. Doing this will result in far less communication because the client will know exactly where they are in the process of completion.” ~ Tommy MelloA1 Garage Door Repair

3. Put It in Writing 

“Anytime you have a conversation with a client, send them an email with your understanding of what was discussed, the next steps, or the outcomes decided. When you’re both agreeing on paper to a business decision, there are usually fewer misunderstandings than if you verbally accept conditions or terms. And be specific and precise in wording. What one person considers important, another might not.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

4. Build Expectations Around Your Reporting Methods 

“We put together a data report for our clients that reflects what we accomplished for their accounts in each month. We solved our problems with client expectations by building a great report that covers everything they would want to know, and then started using only the metrics in those reports when telling our potential clients what we can deliver for them.” ~ Adam Steele, The Magistrate

5. Establish Outcomes 

Clearly define the outcome you are working toward, whether verbally or in a contract, and clearly communicate it to the client. When there is transparency in your process and you and the client are in alignment of the outcome you’re trying to achieve, you mitigate scope creep and can reign them in when their vision veers from the outcome you’ve established.” ~ Kevin YamazakiSidebench

6. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver 

“Your No. 1 goal has to be managing your clients’ expectations. If their expectations are too high or you can’t get them to agree to your timelines and process, you’re probably wasting your valuable time. When communicating with your client and team, promise about 90 percent of what you think is achievable. Then you only have to deliver 110 percent — problem solved.” ~ Brendon Schenecker, Travel Vegas

7. Build in a Contingency Buffer 

“No matter how much planning is done up front in a project, something will inevitably come up that’s outside of the original scope or goes against your prescribed process. Rather than “punishing” the client for this, have a built-in contingency plan that accommodates these minor changes. Allocate buffer or time to address these without having to affect the overall project’s goals.” ~ Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark

8. Determine Needs Versus Capacity and Deliverables 

“Every client has their own idea about what they hire us for. Most clients expect exponential growth (and we’re careful not to oversell); however, some of their expectations may go against better practices and policies. We try to iron that out immediately by determining how much capacity we have to deliver on what is needed before talking about nice-to-haves.” ~ Cody McLainSupportNinja

9. Overcommunicate 

“Frequently deliver clear and actionable details that will inform the client of what’s being worked on and what’s planned ahead. This ensures that everyone’s on the same page at all times. Getting buy-in from the client on a particular plan or direction ahead of time can also be helpful in properly setting expectations.” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors, LLC

10. Avoid Month-to-Month Agreements 

“If your service takes times to show results, do not under any circumstances agree to month-to-month contracts. It’s critical that you spend time upfront discussing how long it will take your company to show results. For instance, one of the core services of my company is SEO. SEO takes time. That’s why I disclose that clients shouldn’t expect meaningful results for at least six months or more.” ~ Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

Businessperson Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.