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are my weekends still mine?
how do you feel about clients calling you on your 'days off'?

 11:29 pm on Nov 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

I'm wondering if I'm trying too hard to stay free of clients on the weekends.

I work on average 15 hours a day, seven days a week and I look forward to the weekends, not so that I don't have to work - but so that I don't have to answer my business line when it rings.

Here's my question. Very often, a new potential client calls on the weekend, gets my voicemail and asks me to call them back. Fair enough of course. But they often add to that 'I'll be here for the next couple of hours so if you miss me I'll try you again later this evening'.

What do you all think? Should I be available 7 days a week? Does it create the impression that I'm desperate for work and perhaps not doing very well if I'm available any time of any day? I used to take calls 7 days a week but got tired of feeling as though even if I did want to sit in front of the TV and watch a movie, I couldn't because I was constantly at work. There's confusion, I *am* constantly at work, but do *they* need to know that?

Thanks in advance for your comments/opinions.



 12:07 am on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

Just my .02

They take advantage of it.

I am a strong believer in custom service but a person is only human and needs time to unwind. Also I need time to plan my business for the future. I usually do this on Saturdays so while I'm still at the office I don't answer the phone.


 12:07 am on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

It all depends on you. Set limits for your customers. Put a message on your answering machine saying that your office hours are 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. Then make sure you don't answer the line outside of those hours. If somebody calls that you feel is really important and that you should return the call ... then call back a half hour later and say you were in the office to catch up on the backlog of work. If it can wait until Monday ... then let it.


 12:14 am on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

I stopped answering the business line on weekends and most evenings. I finally got sick of client emergencies that were by no means emergencies. I still hear the calls come in and check the voicemail and if it is a real emergency I'll do something about it.

The final straw was a client that I met with late Friday afternoon about some work to do. He called me first thing Monday morning demanding to know why it wasn't done yet. Apparently he had been wondering about it all weekend on the golf course.


 7:36 am on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

Put your "weekend" policy in the employment agreement (which both the client and you sign - original in their file, copy to them). Don't forget to mention it to the client ahead of time so there is no misunderstanding. At least when they get pi**ed off, you can refer them to the employment agreement that they signed (be prepeared to fax them a copy since they will have "lost" theirs).



 8:14 am on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

This is really helpful input everyone, thank you all for taking the time :)

I feel reassured in my stance and I shall continue to stay client-free on weekends.

Liane I do like your idea of 'I was in my office catching up...' for those cases when a weekend call would be a good idea (possible great new client or *real* emergency). Since my office is in my living room I wouldn't be lying either so it works great. Thanks :)


 2:14 pm on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

I give clients my mobile for 'out of hours calls'. Like most, it shows the caller number - if its an important client I answer, if not they get the answerphone.

If an answerphone message needs an urgent response, it gets it - otherwise they get an e-mail saying I will deal with it 'first thing' at the start of the mext working day.

Works for me - but then most of my clients are fairly well behaved.

It raised another question though, 'how to tactfully and ethically drop the clients that are non-profitable and high maintenance?'


 10:29 pm on Nov 18, 2001 (gmt 0)

'how to tactfully and ethically drop the clients that are non-profitable and high maintenance?'

This is an excellent question, and further - when you reach the point where you get that niggling feeling that a particular client *is* one of those, how patient should you be - or howlong should should you continue to give them 'the benefit of the doubt' before you make the decision to let them go.

I have one currently that's way out of hand and I'm left with a client who claims to have no money after I've spent eight months working on his huge Web Site, not to mention the close to twenty hours of advice and training I've given him and several ridiculous time-wasting meetings he's insisted on.

Unfortunately I think I'm up the creek on this one because when I started the project I hadn't had my contracts reviewed by a lawyer yet and there's no time limit specified for payment.

It's so bad now that this client has completely abandoned his project and has since had two more sites built by another designer!


 3:17 pm on Nov 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi Sarkye:

I find that caller id is a wonderful device to use on the weekends (and weekdays) and use it to screen calls. For those clients that are not respectful of your time on the weekend...you may want to consider billing them 50% over your usual price for your time(letting them know about this policy upfront reduces aggravation and frivolous calls).

I've had to let a couple of clients go due to their high maintenance (and my increased blood pressure when dealing with them). I politely informed them that "due to changes in the company's strategy, it was no longer a good match" and provided them the names and numbers of a couple of competitors. This seems to have worked since I am still getting referrals from the former clients.


 4:07 pm on Nov 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think it depends on your view of work/life balance. Difficult when you are small, because theres no back up plan, its you or nothing, so the balance tends to be dictated to you

If your clients expect you to be available 24/7, and smiling when you get dragged out of bed on a freezing Sunday morning, thats fine, so long as you feel you are being fairly recompensed for your time.

I try not to work late/weekends because :

1) I am not a drone. I have something that likes to think its a life outside of work, and its nice to spend time there occasionally

2) "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". If I convert my desk to a Borg recharging station and live at the office, I think its going to affect the quality of my work, because it affects the quality of my life. If you're not happy, why bother? Retiring at 89 with enough cash to marry Anna Nicole Smith, and no happy memories doesn't fit my criteria of a successful life, frankly

On the other hand, if its a big client, or you feel like doing them a favour (or you have a "double bubble" clause for after-hours service), then fine. Just don't let anyone get the idea that its their RIGHT to get you at the weekend without paying big bucks for the privelege.

On the other hand (thats 3 hands now - I am turning into a mutant. Help!), if your plan is to work like a dog until you're 30, then retire to the Carribean or something, then I suggest you forget how to sleep :)

You've got to pick a balance thats right for you and how you want to work. Doing 100+ hours/week will make you rich, but if you die of a heart attack, its not worth much.

Some people thrive on that sort of pressure, and don't understand why anyone would want to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch. Find whats right for you, and stick with it. If a client-free weekend leaves you ready to face the rigours the week, that seems like a plan, but also bear in mind that one of your great strengths as a small business is your flexibility.

I often end up working late for an hour or so, doing some weekend work etc, but thats a choice (I also find that its easier to concentrate due to fewer interuptions). And if I don't feel like it, I don't bother. while I want to be successful, I'm not going to feel my life is a failure if I don't end up in the next Sunday Times Rich List


 4:09 pm on Nov 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Unfortunately I think I'm up the creek on this one because when I started the project I hadn't had my contracts reviewed by a lawyer yet and there's no time limit specified for payment.


Presumeably you are in compliance with the terms of the contract (it never hurts to come to the bar of law with clean hands). I don't know anything about Canadian contract law, but if it is based on English common law, it's highly doubtful that someone could avoid payment for services just because the contract is vague on the timing of the payments.

If the amount the deadbeat owes you is substantial, and if the deadbeat has sufficient assets to cover any judgment, you might consider all legal means necessary to satisfy this debt.

On the other hand, if the potential recovery is relatively small, or if deadbeat is, for all practical matters, judgment proof, then maybe you should write this one off. A competent local attorney can advise you.


P.S. We all know what my buddy Macguru thinks of "competent attorneys". ;)

(edited by: lawman at 4:15 pm (gmt) on Nov. 19, 2001)


 4:12 pm on Nov 19, 2001 (gmt 0)


RCJordan has a good method for dealing with this, and it makes sense to me: the only way to contact him is through e-mail. On his business card is an e-mail address and that's it.

Think of it this way: a phone call makes the business their priority. E-mail makes it yours.

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