I have two potential projects and one project where the client is taking a long time to get back to me. I want to let one of my potential clients know when I can start work on his project, but if he takes too long and I start on one of my other projects then the date when I start on his will have to be pushed back.
How do you schedule multiple projects at the same time? How do you let customers know that their project could be pushed back if they don't act fast?
We'd go broke if we only took on one client at a time. It sounds like you need to learn to schedule your projects so that you have multiple projects running concurrently.
Yes, I almost always have 2-3 open projects going on at once. Usually they are at different stages of completion.
There is always different "down-times" for every project: waiting for the contract, waiting for payment, waiting for content, waiting for approval, etc. These are times that you incorporate working on another client's project. Even if you have all the content for 2 projects at once, that is when you just need to divvy up your time accordingly. How you want to prioritize is up to you ... perhaps you want to finish one and then start the other, perhaps you want to work on one, take a break and then work on the other. No matter which you choose, you definitely don't want to have only 1 project going on at once and the other waiting until the other is 100% complete.
You also don't want to give your client the feeling that they need to get moving or they're going to be pushed down your list. By making them feel like you're going to drop their priority will give them a bad image. Instead, you'll want to try to get them moving faster by moving them up the list. Give them a positive incentive to get the project finished.
Multi-tasking clients and projects can take some time to really get efficient with, but soon you'll get a feel for the process. You'll soon have 4-5 projects going on at once and it will be no problem. ;)
Even when you're slow, you always want to give prospects a sense of urgency. Tell them you're typically very busy, you have a full schedule, and you want to add them in, force them to make a decision, either yes or no, but always put the pressure on them