One of the challenges that comes with being a limited company contractor is building up a strong foundation of regular clients who can provide you with a steady stream of work.
In order to achieve this, you need to prove that you are capable of delivering what the client needs on time and to a required standard, with maximum efficiency and reliability. In short, you need to keep your clients happy.
Here are a few key principles that could help you to achieve this goal and start building up a strong bank of satisfied, loyal clients.
Be honest about what you can deliver
As tempting as it might be to answer 'yes' to any request a client makes of you, it's more important to be realistic and honest about exactly what you are able to deliver in a certain time frame or for a particular cost.
Don't be afraid to speak frankly with clients if their objectives or deadlines seem somewhat unrealistic; just be sure to be professional and respectful, and make constructive suggestions about how the project in question could be structured so the workload is more manageable.
Reaching a point where you can have open, candid discussions with clients will be beneficial for the relationship in the long term, as both parties will feel comfortable to raise any issues or questions they might have.
In contrast, agreeing to an unachievable target or deadline and staying quiet about your struggles to meet it could ultimately prove disastrous for client relations.
Maintain regular contact
It's vital for limited company contractors to keep in regular contact with clients, even if it's just to let them know that everything is progressing smoothly and you are on target. Regular, positive status updates can be highly beneficial for a client relationship. If the only time the client hears from you is when there is an issue or when you need something from them, they might start to view their working relationship with you as problematic.
Staying engaged with clients is particularly important if you spend a lot of time working remotely or independently. Most companies - particularly those that are not regular users of contractors - will want to be reassured that you are making headway, so be sure to keep them in the loop at all times.
Consider the client's needs
Always bear in mind that - if you want to keep your customers happy and build loyalty - the relationship should be all about the client, not you. Look at the work you are doing from the client's perspective, and continually ask yourself questions about what is important to their business and what they want to achieve.
It's possible that you will find yourself doing work that falls outside your main areas of interest or doesn't serve your career goals, but sometimes those concerns will have to be put to one side while you focus on the job at hand.
As your relationships with clients develop, you will get to know them better and become increasingly adept at understanding - and anticipating - their needs.
Keep your promises
This could be the most important principle of all when it comes to keeping clients happy. It's absolutely imperative that you keep to the terms of your contract and deliver what the client has paid for.
As obvious as this might sound, it's crucial to remember that your client is paying you to do a job. If you demonstrate that you are capable of getting the work done on time and to the client's satisfaction, you will lay the groundwork for what could be a long, rewarding relationship for both parties.