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episode 49

Your Client’s Urgency is NOT Your Emergency

There is a huge difference between what your client thinks is urgent or an emergency and what is truly urgent for you. It is important for you to know the difference so you can uphold your work-life balance and get paid well for providing rushed solutions.

Today Sam & Karyn discuss empowering yourself when dealing with your client’s urgency, and how to set boundaries in your business.

Show Notes:

Discerning what is and what is not an emergency for your clients.
Setting clear lines of communication with your clients to relay to them when you are and are not available.
Implementing policies as a buffer and shield to protect your time and energy.
Two strategies you can use if you find yourself in an urgent or emergency situation with a client.

Episode Transcript:

Karyn Paige, Sam Munoz

Karyn Paige 00:00
If your clients are emergency, or a sense of urgency, whether it’s real fabricated, or otherwise does not constitute an emergency for you, like you do not have to stop and drop and be at their beck and call just because they’re flustered and they want something done right away.

Sam Munoz 00:22
Welcome to Making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.

Karyn Paige 00:32
And I’m Karen Page, where the Tech Wizards behind Sam, Windows consulting and the making website Magic School of Business. Were two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.

Sam Munoz 00:45
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience. Let’s do it. Well, hello there, Karen.

Karyn Paige 01:03
Hey, Sam, how’s it going?

Sam Munoz 01:06
It’s going super well today. Very interested in the topic at hand. And I want to rush into it. Pun included. Pun intended, pun intended.

Karyn Paige 01:21
Yeah, kind of intended fully. So today’s episode is all about urgency versus emergency write your clients. Urgency is not your emergency.

Sam Munoz 01:36
You know what it’s making me think of actually, do you know that like, it’s probably like an 80 song, but it’s like, urgent, urgent. I won’t say anymore for copyright purposes. But we will link it in the show notes. I’ll find the name of it. And it says urgent emergency. And it’s great. And whenever you’re faced with an issue around your clients, urgency, I invite you to turn on that song, just to get you in the zone. But seriously, in all seriousness, this comes up all the time, right clients coming to us with these like urgent requests hair on fire. And as someone that deeply struggles with anxiety, those kinds of moments bring about a lot of stress. For me personally, right, getting that urgent email that says, you know, all caps important. I need help. Right now. I need you to fix this today. I need you to look at this on this Friday night. 11pm. I’ve definitely been there. I’m sure plenty of people that are listening have been there. And that’s why we’re talking about it because clients will come to us with urgent emergencies. But that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that those become our emergencies.

Karyn Paige 02:40
Yeah. And it actually makes me think of like, are those emergencies that our clients come to us with? Are they even real emergencies?

Sam Munoz 02:48
Oh, true.

Karyn Paige 02:49
Is it something that can wait until Monday?

Sam Munoz 02:52
That’s truly what we’re talking about? is almost the discernment right? Of is it an emergency, really helping your clients understand what isn’t isn’t an emergency? And then also like, how do you create policies in your business to support the inevitability that a situation like this will happen? And honestly, I think that before we even talk about like the strategy and mindset and all of those things, I’m kind of thinking like, how can you set yourself up to where your clients, they’re obviously going to do whatever they do, right? Because we can’t control other people. But how can we set things up in our business to where our clients feel a little bit more empowered themselves, so they don’t freak out and like, come to us with emergencies in the first place? I know that that’s not necessarily the topic that we’re discussing. But it is like a, it’s like a prequel, right? Because it’s like, how can we communicate with our clients ahead of time that like, for example, we’re going to migrate your domain from this domain to this domain. And because of that, it’s going to take 48 hours to propagate that, okay. So if you if you go to your website, and it looks like it’s down, or if you go to your website, and it’s showing something different than what we are launching, that’s why and so like, good communication, I think is kind of a theme in general when it comes to clients. And we talk about it a lot on the podcast, right, like communicating with your clients. Well. And I know we have an upcoming episode on like boundaries and expectations and things like that. And that is a part of the discussion today is just like communicating well with our clients throughout the entire process. And so I kind of want to like just mention that as like a quick tip, in terms of this whole like managing client urgencies, is that like, the more we can communicate with them and be upfront and let them know what might happen during a project or whatever. We could potentially mitigate this from happening at all. However, the discussion today is really okay. Once they do come to us with a urgent request. How do we approach that?

Karyn Paige 04:47
Yes, and that makes me think of a lovely word that I’ve really been like luxuriating in recently. And that word is policies. I know the word policies is great. Uh, It’s just shiny and sparkly and like lacquered and gold. So okay, like you said, like, how do we deal with this when stuff like this comes up? Sometimes we don’t actually know, because this might be the first time that we are being presented with this issue, right? So you might end up going into the situation. And then you come out of it. And you’re like, hey, I think I want to create a policy around that, now that I’ve been through it. And this isn’t a service that I want to provide to my clients like having urgency around, like last minute things, or emergencies, etc. Or I do want to create those expectations and communicate more clearly, which I didn’t do this time, et cetera, et cetera.

Sam Munoz 05:33
That’s a really good point, Karen, it’s almost like forgiving yourself too. If you have had these situations in the past, and or recognizing that, like, maybe you have not yet experienced a client coming to you with urgency, and just being aware that you can do the policies and things that we’re going to be discussing in this episode. I think that’s really important.

Karyn Paige 05:52
Yeah. First and foremost, right? Like, here we are with a platter of options for our listeners, part of that is just right out of the gate, giving you this option of one, you don’t have to say yes,

Sam Munoz 06:04
that’s big. You’re allowed to say no. Yes.

Karyn Paige 06:07
So this literally is like the title of the episode, right? Like your clients are emergency, or a sense of urgency, whether it’s real fabricated, or otherwise, does not constitute an emergency for you, like you do not have to stop and drop and be at their beck and call just because they’re flustered and they want something done right away.

Sam Munoz 06:28
Oh, this is so deep, right? Because I know we have a magic minutes topic on this. And I’m sure we’ll pull this into a deeper episode on the podcast in the future, but just that like relationship that we have with our clients that is coming up so much in the podcast lately about you know, are we their employee? Are we a contractor? Are we their peer? Are we working for them? Are we working with them. And truly, when we have healthy relationships with our clients, and healthy professional relationships with them, I think it becomes easier to cut that almost like emotional reaction to their urgency, you know what I mean? Because then we can say, I have a policy that I don’t work after 5pm. And so I understand that this is happening, but I will get to it tomorrow at 9am When I’m back online. And that doesn’t really become available until we believe that we can say no to things. And we do create some like policies that allow us to break the ties of that urgency.

Karyn Paige 07:32
Yeah, and we we can dig into this a little bit later when we have that episode around boundaries and expectations. But it’s important to notice, when your clients have a sense of urgency. When are they communicating to this queue? Is it coming in like Friday at seven o’clock in an email? Is it coming in on the weekends or outside of your office hours? Essentially, right? So a simple policy can be like, if you’re not checking if you have a policy for your company, or when you check email. And when you check communication channels with your clients, you might not even receive their urgent message.

Sam Munoz 08:06
That’s kind of the best Honestly, when I know I remember when I started really being super diligent about what I did and didn’t work. And when I didn’t didn’t check email, specifically, my life opened up big time, because I would get an email at Friday at 11pm. And I would go check it and I would see it and I would be like, I have to handle this right now. Right. And all of a sudden, my weekend, the thing that I’ve been excited for the you know, the life that I’m building my business into, is being curtailed by someone else’s urgent request. But Karen, here’s the thing. I don’t want these people to hate me, right? Like, I want to help them. So how, how can I hear that their urgency is not my emergency. It is though, isn’t it? Like I don’t want them to hate me.

Karyn Paige 08:54
If it’s a policy, it comes from a place of neutrality. It’s not about them hating you, or loving you or taking advantage of you. It’s like, these are policies that I’ve created. And so those are like my buffer and my shield against that, right. And again, going back to like clear communications expectations, which we’re going to dig into when you’re clearly communicating that you’re unavailable that changes things, right? Or how can you prove that they’re gonna hate you, because that comes from like, a can also come from like, the way you communicate the approach and the tact sort of thing. To

Sam Munoz 09:27
your point about like policies, it’s also making me think that like, those are the policies of the business, right. And so when we worry about, like, I don’t want this person to hate me or have negative feelings towards me. I like to think that it’s not as possible if it’s the policies of the business, and I just happen to be someone that works in the business, right? So it’s like, yes, you’re a company of one, but your business has a policy that you don’t work on the weekends, and you’re just following the rules.

Karyn Paige 09:54
You bring up a very good point and this is definitely going to require a deeper discussion and we When you think of, I don’t want someone to hate me, that makes me think of people pleasing, we should devote an entire episode to that idea, because it’s also available to you to make your business less personal and less centered on who you are as a person, like you said, it’s just company policy, just follow the policies.

Sam Munoz 10:17
It’s like a detachment, it’s a detachment of like you from the business, that is a deeper conversation, honestly, because that’s also making me think about, like, how much of yourself do you really have to put into your business. And again, these things actually come up so often as like, in little ways, throughout all the topics we talked about on the podcast. So it’s just really interesting that it comes up here to where it’s just like, I feel like when someone needs or wants me right now, and like, wants me to, like, stop what I’m doing and help them, then I’m a bad person, I’m saying this, you know, trying to, like get into the heads of the listener, right? I feel like, they might think that I’m a bad person, when in reality, it’s just that your business has rules, and your business has, has made boundaries around when and how you work. And it doesn’t have to be that you’re being mean, again, it’s the delivery is really important to you like the way that you communicate, like, Hey, we’re not available, but here are your options, or here’s what we can do next. Or here’s when I’m next available. That’s really big and important, big shift.

Karyn Paige 11:14
Again, when we’re thinking about taking like feelings out of the questions or the requests, etc, like really take an opportunity to rely on your expertise and discern when something is urgent and when it isn’t, and then communicate that in a way that feels like very neutral to your clients.

Sam Munoz 11:34
Absolutely. And this is making me think of two strategies that I want to share regarding urgency with your clients. The first is setting up an auto responder, and then the second is creating a rush fee policy. So first strategy, let’s spend some time here. I like to have an auto responder active on my email at all times. And in this auto responder, I have a few very key things, business hours, where to go for support if I’m not available. And then when I typically respond to emails, so communicating availability, right, communicating when you can expect a response. And then truly, most importantly, where do I go if I do need help? When I created the auto responder, I felt so free Karen, because I was like I did deal with that guilt. I think that there was a guilt factor happening, where it was like if I go off and like enjoy my life, go live with my family, like do all these things. And then someone’s business suffers, someone is in distress about their website, because I didn’t see my email because they didn’t have my support. Because they had some urgent requests. And I wasn’t available. I feel bad, right? I felt like they were depending on me, and I let them down. There’s probably a level of people pleasing in there. Sure. But the auto responder really helped me feel free from that, because I gave them a bunch of solutions, a bunch of options. If I’m not available, and you need something urgently, here are a couple other people you can reach out to, again, it’s very client centered, but it also fully supported me. And then it really allowed me to feel free. Like it’s not my emergency, I’m not available. I’ve communicated that to them. I’ve given them these, you know, boundaries and hours and things. And it’s okay for me to adhere to them myself, which I know we’re going to talk about that deeper later. But if I said on my email that I will respond to you in two business days, and I’ll respond to you in two business days. And that’s okay.

Karyn Paige 13:23
And that right there? Is you being dependable. And is you being reliable dependability and reliability does not mean 24/7 unfettered access, oh, it means when I say I’m going to be there, I will, you can depend on me within these ramifications, right. And so like in your auto responder strategy, that is dependable, that is reliable, right there without the pressure for you to show up. 24/7 365

Sam Munoz 13:56
That is such a good point. I love that you said that you said dependability doesn’t mean unfettered access. That’s a really I think we need to like hear that. Right? Because sometimes it truly does feel like I have to be available 24/7 And you know what you don’t? You really don’t, you really do not. And again, communicating that with your clients and explaining that to them ahead of time or when you get a request and honoring those boundaries. Super, super key to that. Easier said than done sometimes, right? Because those other feelings do come up. But there might be a little like hesitation like, am I feeling okay with implementing this?

Karyn Paige 14:33
Yeah. Before we move on to the second strategy, which is like so juicy, and I’m excited to talk about it. I want to give you a thought experiment here. If the tables were reversed, and you came to your clients with a sense of urgency of hey, I need this yesterday. I need your content and your copy and your images yesterday. This is an emergency. How do you think your clients would respond to that? Do you think they’d probably say hey, you know Well, this isn’t really urgent for me, can we maybe wait until Monday for that I’m busy. So the tables are definitely tipped in favor of your clients and in the situation of urgency and emergency. So that, again, is a space for you to consider how much power you actually do have in the dynamic here, you probably have a lot more than you’re giving yourself credit for. And you are invited to tap into that power.

Sam Munoz 15:26
100%. Thank you for saying that.

Karyn Paige 15:30
Can we talk about the other juicy strategy? Yes,

Sam Munoz 15:32
yes. And I’m like dying to talk about this. Because there are times when you want to say yes, right, you’re like, I can’t support this, maybe this is kind of an emergency, right? Maybe it is like a white screen of death. They’re in the middle of a launch, and I want to support them. And the strategy is, you can charge for the rush for helping them through the emergency, you can have an emergency, right. And there are so many ways to do this. So many ways. And it’s just like, you get to decide, I’m just going to say a couple of options, you can have like a flat rate where you’re like anything that I do that is faster than like a three day turnaround, I’m always slapping an extra $1,000 on it. That’s my recipe. That’s one option. Option number two is, you know, just like in corporate America, there’s overtime, right, you get paid time and a half. All right. So if you have an hourly rate, maybe double it, that’s your new hourly rate during off hours, your emergency hours, that’s an option as well. Third option, which is not really a rush fee, but as more like a long standing thing for clients to have as an option isn’t having you on retainer and charging a lot of money for that, because the value of it is that they have your support More, quote unquote, urgently, however, still within boundaries, 100% Unless you’re charging them like 20 grand a month, no one’s getting 24/7 support from me. But those are three different ways that you can implement fees, because again, you should be paid for your time. I remember I did a project one time, and she came back to me a couple months later. And it was it was one of those 11pm I happened to open my computer and see it. And I decided I was like I am going to say yes to this because I I’m just sitting around, it’s fine. I get to choose it. Just like in my business, I get to decide when I want to work, that’s fine goes both ways you can decide that you don’t want to work and then you can decide to say yes to that’s okay. But a rush fee was warranted didn’t feel bad about it.

Karyn Paige 17:28
Yeah, at the end of the day, we’re building websites. We’re not like emergency medical technicians. We’re not dealing with busted pipes where sewage is leaking all over bathroom floors. So some things Yeah, they might be urgent, like white screen of death during the launch. And also, they can still wait. But the great idea of like the fees, and the policies and the retainers and things like that is just the simple concept of like, you can ask for it. And I may be able to make it happen, and I may not. But if I can make it happen, it’ll cost you. And that’s okay.

Sam Munoz 18:01
And they can say no, that’s the thing is like if you’re feeling nervous about like, I don’t know if I want to add this rush because I feel bad because I could do it. And I know that there are some ladies out there who are not even charging at all for that in the first place. They’re just like, Oh, I’ll fix it right now and charging $0, let alone a recipe. But if you’re ever nervous about sending that price over remember, they are allowed to say no, if they want it and need it that bed and they want you to do it, then they will pay you for it like Period End of story like so you can put whatever recipe you want on it because it is your time and you get to value that however you want to.

Karyn Paige 18:39
Yeah, it’s just like the minibar in a hotel. You can pay $5 for a can of soda, because it’s right there, but it’ll cost ya. Or you could put on your clothes or your shoes and walk down to the corner store and get one for 75 cents. But it’s going to take more time, you’re going to probably have to wait right? The corner stores close.

Sam Munoz 18:58
But the Frigidaire is not like oh, I’ll just be 75 cents also all the time. 24/7.

Karyn Paige 19:03
So we gotta just scratched the surface here on like boundaries, expectations, comfort levels, with communicating with clients and power dynamics relationships with clients, but at the end of the day, we’ve given you some great options and ideas for how you can how you can make this work for you in your favor. And also, you don’t have to deal with it at all. If you don’t want to.

Sam Munoz 19:27
You can just say no, I can just say no

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