Can you manage multiple clients without losing your mind? When you first start your business, your goal is just to land a single client…any client. As time goes on and your business grows, you’ll start to develop new client relationships which will require you to split up your time.
One day, you may even get to the lucky place where you can be more selective with who you work with. Regardless, you will still need to learn how to manage multiple clients. Freelancing businesses especially can be very feast or famine so want to do your best to maintain the clients you have without getting overwhelmed or burned out.
If you’re finding it challenging to manage multiple clients, here are some tips and strategies that can help.
1. Prioritize Your Clients Throughout the Week
Depending on how many clients you have, you will likely have to split up your workload so you can focus on each client on a particular day and time. If you have 5 clients and work 5 days per week, you may want to dedicate a few hours each day to each client.
But what if you have more and don’t want to work Monday through Friday? Odds are each of your clients have different needs. Some may need communication and provide bigger projects while others may be more hands-off and assign smaller tasks.
Set your schedule up each week so that you know which clients you’re working with and how much time you’ll need. Bigger clients may need to take precedence toward the beginning of the week or vise versa. Keep deadlines in mind and come up with a schedule that works best for you and allows you enough time to perform well for each client.
2. Realistically Manage Client’s Expectations
Have a conversation with clients early on about their expectations and how you can accommodate them. Be honest about what your schedule/availability looks like along with the fact that you have other clients as well.
If you don’t work weekends, speak up and let clients know. Also, let clients know when it’s the best time to reach you to discuss projects and other topics. If Monday – Wednesday works best for you to prioritize a particular client, communicate that to them and they will likely feel special and appreciated that you are dedicating a specific time block to their needs.
3. Consider Using a Project Management System
I don’t know how I managed clients in the past without using a project management system. Sites like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp allow you to organize your tasks and separate projects which is great for being able to manage multiple clients.
I personally use Asana and I like how I can see everything I need to do for each client daily along with the deadlines. Asana automatically sends email reminders when a task or coming up due or it’s overdue. This way, I never forget a client project large or small.
You can also share files in Asana and communicate easily with clients by leaving a comment under the task. If you’re working on a team, Asana is also great for this because you can create sub-tasks for each task and assign different roles of the process to different people. This saves me time and eliminates a lot of stress when I’m trying to effectively manage all my clients and meet deadlines.
4. Schedule a Meeting Day
If a lot of your clients request to have meetings with you, consider scheduling them all on the same day. Sure, this can sound like overkill, but it can actually do the opposite when it comes to your productivity. Having a meeting every day or even multiple times during the week can slow you down.
You have to stop what you’re doing to attend your meeting which means a lot of your projects will be partially completed throughout the day. It’s probably better to just load up all your client meetings on one day. That way, you can knock everything out at once and won’t have to worry about refocusing on important tasks.
Also, be sure to bill clients for meetings that take you away from your work or factor those costs into your project rate.
5. Do One Task a Time
You may think you need to multi-task because you have several clients but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve done the stop-and-go routine when by working on several different projects at once and it never pans out.
Instead, stick to your schedule and do one thing at a time. If you feel overwhelmed at the start of the day, pick a specific client project to work on and don’t switch gears until you’re finished.
Schedule in time for breaks or to check email but try to focus on the task at hand and cross it off your list before moving on.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
In order to effectively manage multiple clients, you need to know your limits and be comfortable with saving no. If having 10 clients is too much for you, be honest about it and either say you’re fully booked, or hire help and raise your prices.
Saying no may be tough especially if you feel like you’re turning money away but realize there are plenty of opportunities that will come and go. If you don’t have the time or energy to take on an extra client or project, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by taking it on anyway.
Don’t compromise your quality or attention to detail by overloading your schedule. This will lead you to get extremely burnt out. Instead, know your limits, hire the right help, and schedule in downtime so you can take breaks and decompress as needed.
How many clients do you have and how do you manage them all while maintaining your sanity?