Scheduling and Being Scheduled

When you live by the dictates of other people’s whims, it is difficult to schedule. Sometimes there is no help for being overloaded, and getting behind!

We keep being advised to hold our clients to a schedule. If we worked with a different clientele, perhaps we could. But our clients are less able to keep to a rigid schedule because they themselves are sole-proprietors. They often have to balance emergencies in their own business, with no one to fall back on. The web work gets set aside, as lower priority.

We understand that. We really do! Which is one reason our policies have developed to accommodate that. One of our selling points is that the client sets the schedule more than we do. But we did have to change the way we explain things to them!

Generally I try to keep about half of my day unscheduled, and unplanned. Most mornings I wake to find that my inbox is full of plans for the rest of the day, and sometimes for a few more days as well! As much as possible, I try to get their work done quickly. But if it has not been scheduled ahead, it just has to go in the queue. Some clients aren’t so understanding about that!

But really, if they delay, and delay, and I have no idea of when the work is coming in, they cannot complain if I am overbooked when they finally turn it in.

The solution for us has been to communicate better with our clients, both before the contract is signed, and after. Letting them know when they turn something in, whether we are caught up, or running behind. I suspect our business will always be a feast or famine business, and we won’t be able to easily offload work onto other people. It is just the nature of working with very small businesses.

In spite of the problems, I really like working with our clients. They are amazing people, hard working, and perfectly willing to be reasonable as long as our emails are not filled with excuses.

While I cannot demand that they keep to a schedule, I can help them understand that they must work within my schedule once the work is turned in.

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