Book Review: Managing Client Expectations by Standolyn Robertson
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Are you on Goodreads? I love it because:
- it helps me keep track of the books I’ve read
- it’s a great way to learn about books I might want to read
- I get to see what other people I know are reading
The third reason is how this post came to be. When I discovered that Standolyn Robertson had written a book for organizers, and that Hazel Thornton (who’s been a guest blogger here more times than I can remember) was reading it, I asked her to write a review for Your Organizing Business when she’d finished it – and here it is!
Standolyn Robertson is an expert on one of my favorite topics. Why is it a favorite? Because it doesn’t matter how fancy your website is, how well your company logo shirt compliments your workbag, or how talented you are at organizing, if you can’t manage client expectations.
As a 20-year veteran in the organizing and productivity industry, and a former President of NAPO, she’s written an article on this topic, presented it at conference, recorded a class (NAPO OD4-403), and now… drumroll, please… she’s published a book called Managing Client Expectations: A Guide for Organizing Professionals.
As a 15-year veteran myself, I think there are few aspects of the organizing and productivity business as important, and as under-discussed, as this one. And Standolyn knows what she’s talking about! I loved her book and recommend it to newbies and veterans alike.
Standolyn writes about Managing Client Expectations in stages, namely:
Stage 1: The Beginning of the Relationship
Getting to know the client’s situation, goals and challenges; telling the client how you work; dispelling preconceived notions about organizers who make you get rid of all your stuff – “You guide, they decide” — and about television shows that make home makeovers seem quick and easy.
Stage 2: The Middle: The Initial Client Contact
Being aware of the variety of things can happen while actually working with the client; what to do when the project changes (“scope creep”), or when you realize there’s been a miscommunication; the difference between policies and procedures.
Stage 3: The End of the Appointment and the Beginning of a Lasting Relationship
How to wrap up a session, follow up, and prepare for next time. One section cracked me up because I’d experienced it, but never put a name to it before, about how not to become a “car hostage” or “foyer hostage”, LOL!
Each chapter ends with a handy list of Pro Tips, Rookie Mistakes, Power Questions, and/or Business Strategies, as applicable.
One section I didn’t expect to see was about Self-Care. But it makes total sense. We need to practice what we preach. How can I ask a client to prepare for our session by getting a good night’s rest, and eating something before we get started, if I’m not willing to do the same?
For new organizers, this book would be super-helpful for putting best practices into place from the outset, and knowing what to look for in the way of potential problems and how to solve them. And for veteran organizers, it’s an opportunity to reevaluate your client relationships and adjust your policies and procedures as you recognize the situations you are reading about.
Standolyn includes lots of examples of mistakes she’s made and how they led to improvements in communication, effectiveness, and policies. She describes her interactions with clients with humor, warmth, and respect. Do yourself a favor and learn from Standolyn’s mistakes! But don’t worry about getting everything perfect; missteps are inevitable. Think of them as opportunities to regroup and get it right.
No matter your experience level, you’re responsible for managing client expectations throughout the project. This includes setting expectations up front and resetting them when necessary. By managing client expectations effectively, you can focus on the project at hand and help the client achieve their goals while cultivating a long-lasting relationship. And reading this book will help you do just that.
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