There is an opportunity cost of your time and that influences not only your payment structure but your cancelations and how you treat your time from the very first moment that you begin to work with somebody. You should never discount your time. Your time is not a renewable resource, it is not something that can be purchased back. You can’t buy more of it. You don’t have extra inventory in the back room instead. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Our time is our most valuable resource, and we need to start honoring that as entrepreneurs. Because I hope I’m not alone here – but I don’t want to work a 40 hour week. Gone are the weeks that I think success is having a full 40 hour week. Set your hours from a place of abundance. There is an opportunity cost of your time so be sure that you are taking full advantage of every moment while you’re “on the clock”. First rule, never discount your time.
For those of you that may be like me, who have consultations as a first introductory meeting with potential clients – Your time is precious. Just because you want to win them over does not mean that they should get your time for FREE. Now, I’ll admit that I have not always done this. When I first started my law firm **don’t laugh and I’ll try not to** I did free consultations for an hour. Yes, a whole hour (pre covid), so I usually tried to meet them in person because I liked the connection.
Lesson learned. I was doing it wrong. Did it serve its purpose? Absolutely. First of all, let me realize this was actually a problem and to understand that it didn’t have to be this way. But second off, I was just attracting the entirely wrong client, someone who wanted a free hour of my time. I could almost instantly tell when the client had no intentions of ever hiring me. They just wanted free information, so then I thought I got smart and I went for 30 minutes unpaid consultations. Now it’s twenty minutes.
Then one day I looked at Will and I asked, “Why am I not charging for consultations? I don’t like showing up anymore. I never know who I’ve attracted.” That night I changed it.
I want to let you know that you can change the way that you’re doing things, too. You and your business can evolve. I want to challenge you to attract the right clients. Attract the clients that honor your time from the beginning and are willing to pay for your consultation.
Now, you might be saying, but my time that I put into that initial meeting is, you know, built into the back end. Well, what if they don’t hire you? What if they don’t choose someone else? What if you gave them some incredible feedback and inspiration during that first meeting and that’s all they needed? I’ll be honest, that happens in my consultations all the time, and I’m happy it does. I’m happy that I can provide enough information in a consultation that sometimes that’s all they need and that they walk away with the piece of knowledge and peace of mind that they were looking for. I have no resentment because they honored my time because my consultations are paid.
Charging for our consultations benefits our firm financially to get us closer to our financial goals, not only because it attracts clients that honor our time from the very beginning and dissuades clients that don’t. But also because it creates an energy shift within us. Because someone was willing to pay for 20 minutes of my time. I honor that I show up and I show up BIG. Because you have already exchanged energy with me when you have paid for your consultation to schedule time on my calendar, that was not only a financial exchange, but it was an energy exchange. I want to make sure that you get every ounce of that back for me.
To be honest, even though some of my consultations are scheduled for 20 minutes, they usually end after 15 and they end with me asking if they feel complete if they have what they need to either proceed with our services or maybe they just feel complete. When they say yes and they’re happy to hop off the phone after 15 minutes, it’s because I really showed up during that 15 minutes, and you know what, so did they. They valued the time and the investment that they were prepared for the conversation, that they knew what they wanted to ask, that they were authentic about their feelings or reservations so we could talk about all of it.
Now, that leads me to talk about cancelations. Because a lot of you probably work in industries where people reserve your time, you may not be in an industry like mine, I’ll be honest, cancelations don’t affect me as much as they affect other businesses. Instead. There are businesses that are truly affected by cancelations. When a client who has reserved your time decides to cancel or reschedule, you may not be able to fill that time, which is revenue you may not be able to get back. That’s what I mean by the opportunity cost of your time.
While you can of course add another day to your schedule (that you intended to have off with your family) or you might just make take the hit this year because they truly can’t get that time back. **Make sure that when you’re interacting with a business like that, that you respect their time because allowing you to reschedule or change is them being really gracious.** But most importantly, if you’re the business owner that allows people to cancel or reschedule with no cost to them, I want you to advocate for yourself. Because this happened all too often in 2020, and I get it, we were living in a rough time and we were all trying to be human and understanding. But I want to remind you that you can be more human and more understanding than your contract. You can set a stricter baseline and be more flexible when you feel like it is appropriate in the situation.
I want to challenge you. If you are, in fact, a business where there is an opportunity cost of your time, I want you to review your cancelation policy. I want you to consider realistically what it would take to fill that time. Gone are the days of 48 hours notice, if you don’t think that you can actually fill your time with a paying customer in 48 hours. If it takes you 30 days to book a client, that needs to be your cancelation policy. Remember the right client will understand and will value your time.
I said this before and I’ll say it again. Important things from your contract should be built into your onboarding process so that your client understands. Tell them what you need them to know when you need them to know it. Remind them that before they make the investment that your time is precious, that you are holding space for them on the calendar, and that if they cancel with less than a certain amount of notice that you may not be able to recoup that money back. We’re human, we need to start relating with our clients on a human level, we need to start working with clients that respect our time. Don’t work with clients that don’t. Attract your ideal client instead.
I’m going to give you homework today, I want you to take a step back because sometimes we’re just a little too close to it and I want you to write out your payment structure. Is the way that you’re collecting payments, serving, and honoring your time? I don’t want you to start from just the big investment, I want you to start from the first interaction.