If you are a small business owner or a self-employed freelancer, it is extremely important to keep a very organized schedule. Ensuring that you give each client the correct amount of time for your meeting, at an hour that works well for both you and them, is the foundation of your business. It’s what lets you determine their needs and perform services for them. Your ability to organize your schedule is one of your most important skills, but that doesn’t mean that things will always go smoothly. Overbooking is one of the most important traps for you to avoid. If you take on more clients, meetings or projects than you have time for, you might not be able to deliver the services that you promised each client to your usual standard. You’ll receive much less positive reviews and recommendations if clients can tell that your work is rushed or that your services are performed less thoroughly than usual because of overbooking, and they’ll also be displeased if bookings overlap. If you do find yourself in this situation, don’t panic! Staying calm and professional will help you keep on top of things. Here are some tactics to help you deal with overbooking!
If you’re worried that you might be overbooked, make sure that you are extra careful with both your clients’ time and yours. You’re already under pressure to conduct more meetings or complete more projects than you normally would, so there’s no room for small talk. You never want to be curt with your clients or hurry them without providing the proper level of service and care, but being overbooked calls for increased organization and efficiency. Be on time, stay on topic, and focus on being productive. You don’t want to waste your own time when you have so little of it. More importantly, you don’t want to waste your clients’ time by taking on projects or meetings and then keeping them waiting because you overbooked and were too busy with someone else to commit.
Keep them informed
You should be courteous enough to keep your clients updated on your progress. If you took on a project for someone but you overbooked and simply won’t have time to get their project done by the agreed upon date, tell them this as soon as you realize. If you have a meeting with a client, but overbooking might prevent you from arriving on time, let them know right away so that they can assess whether they’d like to keep the meeting or readjust their schedule. Don’t try to be the hero! As much as you don’t want to disappoint clients, it’s much better to contact them and tell them that overbooking might interfere with your business with them than it is to lead them on and say you’ve got it under control, but then have to retract that statement later. Your clients will be less disappointed if you practice full disclosure than they will if you fail to come through for them without warning.
Ask for help
If you have business partners, assistants, or colleagues that are able to help you in an overbooking situation, let them do so! You’re better off admitting when you need assistance than you are trying to take everything on yourself and failing to deliver for your clients. Of course, you must use your judgment and only hand clients on to other professionals that you know will take good care of them. Perhaps there’s someone who can come on to a project as an extra set of hands so that you can work more efficiently, rather than giving a project up entirely? Your clients will appreciate that you’re professional enough to assess the situation and adjust by getting help, rather than burning yourself out and giving them a negative experience.
Re-evaluate, without cutting corners
Is there a more time efficient way to do things than you usually do? Can things be re-arranged in your schedule to be more productive? Are there any adjustments you can make to your contingency plan for each meeting or project that will ease the pressure of being overbooked? Asking yourself questions like these can help you figure out whether there are any changes you can make to your original plans for each client that might help you reorganize overbooking to ensure that everyone is served as well as possible. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean taking short cuts! You want to serve your clients thoroughly, but also do it efficiently.
Offer to reschedule
Rescheduling can be an inconvenience for clients, but it’s less of a disappointment than you being late or not being able to come at all. If you’re overbooked on a particular day, your clients will appreciate your professionalism if you call them in advance and offer to reschedule their appointment to a time that works for them, rather than keeping them waiting.
Offer a discount
In situations where clients have had to deal with changes or rescheduling as a result of you being overbooked, offering a discount can be an effective consolation for their trouble. After all, it’s not their fault that you were overbooked! Discounts for hassles caused by overbooking are a good way to show the client that you really do care about their business and the experience that they have with you. A client who is displeased about being rescheduled might be discouraged from giving you a bad review if they receive a discount on your services as compensation for their troubles.
Above all, make sure that you keep your composure! Being overbooked can definitely be stressful, but there are ways to deal with it that benefit both your clients and you. Your clients will be much less disappointed about things like rescheduling if you are still courteous and well organized even when you are overwhelmed.