What do you do when clients think they own you?

Do you ever get a sense that maybe the client think they own you? Perhaps you work with a service provider that believe you maybe their employee? How do you set these people straight? I get the sense from a recent email that they think they are my only client and all my time is theirs. They are a new client so I need to stomp on this quickly but in a mature manner. When is enough a enough? what do you do to put these people back into place?

I make references to my schedule. Like, “I’m booked all day tomorrow but I can do it the next day”, or “I can schedule that for [tomorrow morning].”

It basically depends on how occupied you are or have been. At times it such happens that you are not with many projects and accommodate the clients work in your time and do it within a given time. Slowly when work begins to build up, it such happens that a regular client comes up with loads of work and want it done there and then. So you need to take a call if you can complete the work or no. If no, you should directly tell the client, that due to other pre-commitments you are not in a position to complete the work immediately. You can give them a time frame when you feel it could be done and ask the client to take a call, if they wish to get it done via you or can’t wait and get it done elsewhere. In case of freelancing the most important thing to remember is self-integrity and quality work. According to me timely delivery is a part but not 100% if you need to re-work for better quality. If you have both, client would stay with you even if you missed out a deadline once in a while.

Tell them you have an allotted time for them and for other clients as well as you work freelance, you have other projects too.

I agree with the others. Tell them you are busy with other work at the moment but can fit them in for a meeting in the next few days, next week or whenever is a good time for you.

If they still carry on it may be time to work out whether the hassle is worth it and if not fire them!

I get the sense from a recent email

My suggestion: Make very sure the client has that sense. You may just shoot yourself in the wallet.

It is quite possible the contact is harried, boss is on their back, and they just fired off an email without the time to consider how a terse wording or turn of phrase comes across.

That said, if this is a recurring problem with a number of clients, it’s possible you’re communicating something in a way which positions yourself in their mind in that way. This is not an unheard of attitude when the service or product is a commodity.

Watch how a pizza delivery guy is treated. Watch how a maitre d’ at a fine restaurant is treated. Watch how both interact with the customer, the context of the interaction. Can both be ill treated by their clientele? Sure, but what I am talking about puts a degree of control in your hands.

People don’t collaborate with hirelings, they dictate to them. People collaborate with experts. They are two different roles, each has behavioral cues, and you don’t get treated like an expert should your perception be the “web site delivery guy.”

My apologies to the web dev/design community, but the difference between these two roles is not as simple as a paper thin Web 2.0 aesthetic veneer.

A single instance does not a pattern make. Yet, it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility you’re putting something out there clients (Plural) pick up on.

Many times this happens . Will you please to tell me how client approach you ? By mail/chat/phone ? If you can tell this , i may share our experience.