In the early days of my business, I would never bother to set a timer (I didn’t know better). I’d allow clients to sit with me as long as they needed. Most clients were respectful and never stayed more than a half hour. But more than a few took advantage of this. They’d come with pages of questions and that session would drag out for more than an hour.
Something had to change because this became draining – and, worse yet, some of those offenders put in a request to “split” the appointment with a friend. You can imagine where that began to go…
I began setting strict time limits. “This is like the end of an era.” one woman lamented when she learned of the new rules. She begrudgingly accepted it but not without plenty of guilt tripping. Other clients stopped coming.
For years, I also did tarot parties. They were quite popular but my introvert nature never liked them. I left drained to the core and sometimes wouldn’t be able to function for a whole day afterwards. I also had no control over who I served…which meant I would sometimes have to deal with bullies, jerks, and other ne’er do wells.
Including the banned client who decided to show up to a party I was working at and sat down, bold as a pig. I am a pro and didn’t want to upset the hostess…so I read, fuming inside.
I came home that night and announced to my husband that I was not going to put myself into that situation again. I stopped doing parties that day.
One client was so angry that she unsubscribed from my email list with a note that said “why should I be on this list when you don’t do parties anymore?” Mind you, most of my work was in my office and was starting to transition to over the phone. I sent her a polite note letting her know I could still serve her in my office, over the phone or email. I never heard from her again.
Many times, when I’ve raised my rates I’ve also gotten blowback. Like the woman who had not seen me for years. When she wanted to book with me, I told her my new rates – and she started screaming at me over the phone. (Not kidding.) Never mind that she worked a good job and got raises and bonuses every year. In her mind, I should stay at the same rate that I charged in 1992. Yes, $25. I politely explained to her that I needed a raise in order to keep up with inflation. She hung up and I never heard from her again.
My latest change has been with in person readings. After a frightening situation last year (won’t bore you with the details), I decided that it was time to stop allowing new clients in the door. My business had been heading this direction over the years anyhow. Once I put up the website, it just became more convenient for my clients to do it over the phone rather than having to drive here. My good clients were happy to work with me this way. And, over the years, I’ve had many wonderful new clients, people I would have never been able to work with before due to distance. They love my phone and email services. I’m fast, efficient, reliable – and I take good care of them.
So when the proverbial straw was broken on the camel’s back last year, I knew it was time to pull the plug. My regulars were completely supportive because they understand that I deserve to be safe in my business. But some people? Not so much. From time to time, I get a new person who tries to aggressively push past my boundaries. They usually use the old “but phone doesn’t work for me – I need it to be in person.” As you can imagine, that’s not gonna wash with me. Rules are rules. And I am sticking with them because I want to be happy in my work. A happy tarot reader is a better one.
So why all these stories today?
To illustrate this point: in your business, no matter what you do, you may also encounter the same thing when you make a change. Some people are going to balk, get mad, or try to ignore the rules (those rules can’t possibly apply to them…).
So how might you deal with it? What might be the best response when someone lays a guilt trip, tries to step over your boundaries – or goes ballistic?
First things first:
Respond, don’t react. That means: keep a cool head and have a response ready. An example: “As of January, my prices went up. I haven’t raised them in three years and it’s about time I did.” or “I’m sorry but I no longer offer that service. It just wasn’t working for me any longer. However, I do have a new service that you might like. Let me tell you all about it.”
You don’t need to explain yourself – not one bit. Simply say “I’m sorry that you feel that way but this is my new policy.” and leave it at that.
Don’t take any of it personally, even if they get nasty. Remember, their reaction is more about them, not you.
When you change something about your business, there is a risk that you will lose some clients. Don’t let that freak you out because truth is: you don’t own your clients. They are free to leave at any time. And face it, sometimes people leave for no reason at all. It’s all good.
In some cases, you may encounter someone who wants to haggle with you. Stop the conversation immediately. Do not allow yourself to get in that position, ever. It will only lead to either you acquiescing under pressure or the client having an attitude every time they see you. In the case of the latter, do you really want to work with someone who comes in with that mindset?
On rare occasion, you may have someone go postal on you like the woman in the earlier example. You do not need to take abuse – ever. Let them blow off steam somewhere else. Once again, end the conversation immediately and refuse to work with them. You don’t want to work with anyone who is disrespectful. Period.
And the best tip of all: give your clients plenty of notice when you are going to make a change. Put it on your website, in your newsletter or let them know directly when they are in your work space. This often heads off problems before they begin.
In most cases, people expect businesses to change and prices to go up – and they have no issue at all. But, on those rare occasions when clients get a bit negative, you can be ready to handle them like the pro you are with the suggestions above.
Change is inevitable but negativity doesn’t have to be.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016