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Clients Don’t Quit Projects, They Quit Freelancers

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There is an old adage in the business world that “employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” The idea is rather basic and reminds us that it is most often the people and not the actual job that generates turnover.

I think this philosophy holds true to running a freelance based business. But consider it this way: “clients don’t quit projects, they quit freelancers.” Heck, a client might be using a freelancer to begin with because they quit an agency that was driving them nuts.

What I want to talk about here are some ways to develop a business based on clients that don’t want to quit. After all, if we effectively retain our clients we will spend less time searching for new ones. Not to mention that extremely happy clients will most often refer new business.

Here are four things to keep in mind:

1 – Learn to listen

As a customer of any type, one of the most frustrating things is to not be heard.

As a customer of any type, one of the most frustrating things is to not be heard. Many companies will turn to freelancers as an alternative to larger companies for this reason alone.

This is a point of real opportunity for the freelancer. We have the opportunity to create a personal experience. And this begins with listening. The more you listen to them, the more you will know how to tweak your services to suit their needs.

I am not suggesting we bend our business to fit every client. Instead I am suggesting that if we simply listen to the needs of our client we will quickly identify small ways to tweak things to make them exceptionally happy.

Never forget that your client knows their business better then you. So if you are called in as an expert in your niche, it doesn’t mean you rule them.

2 – Stick to your passions

I have written here on Buiznus about casting a vision and sticking to it before so I won’t repeat myself in depth. But I do want to point out that the more we stick to the things we absolutely love; the more likely we are to do a fantastic job. As a result, your clients will get a better product and be all the happier for it.

It can be very tempting to allow ourselves to be drawn into lucrative work that simply doesn’t strike at our core passions. For example, I am not a fan of SEO work. It might be tempting to sell people on those services, but I am not very excited about it, so I don’t even try.

Being a one man show means you have to be extra careful to only take on the type of work you will enjoy. Sure you might have to bend this at times, but hopefully over time your passions result in such great work that new clients line up and you have no trouble filling your schedule.

3 – Focus on results

Depending on the type of work you do this idea might present varying degrees of difficulty. But the idea is to make sure you’re always focused on the results your work will produce for your clients. This ties directly into listening, but almost always means trying to address the client’s bottom line. Let’s consider some examples.

Look for ways to help your client with a real focus on results and you will find that business owners respond very well.

Let’s say you’re a freelance accountant. It is one thing to simply do what you’re told, to track the money and generate tax forms. But what if you were to review things and help your clients understand how to more effectively manage their money and increase their profits. I imagine this is par for the course with larger business, but most likely a freelance accountant would work with smaller shops.

Another example might be a freelance web designer. Focus on results for your client by digging into their analytics to better understand their audience. And try to design around real tangible goals. In particular look for the points of conversion that will turn their visitors into paying customers. It seems so fundamental and obvious, yet many fail to take such a focus.

Look for ways to help your client with a real focus on results and you will find that business owners respond very well.

4 – Go above and beyond

One of the easiest ways to avoid losing clients is to go above and beyond. Providing that extra wow factor to your clients is a great way to make them feel they are getting great value for their investment in you.

One way to do this is to plan ahead. Come up with 2 or 3 bonus features ahead of time that can be somewhat generically applied to all clients. Prep them ahead of time so that your bonus feature has great value, but costs you very little in time or money.

This could be as simple as guided instructions for important follow up items after launching a new site. Or even a before and after assessment of site traffic after a rebuild. Things like this show value to the client and yet, can be very easy to pull off.

One of my favorite examples of this is using a Google alert for your client’s company name. And when you see interesting things come in send them an email. It gives you a reason to contact your client, and makes you look as though you’re watching out for them. Depending on how web savvy your client is this can be a simple and effective technique.

It might take some creative thinking, but look for ways to build a wow factor into your every day work.

Don’t get fired

After observing the shortcomings of agencies I really believe it creates an opportunity for freelancers to shine and avoid getting fired. I hope these ideas challenge you to build lasting relationships with your clients in new ways.

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