Question of the Week: How can I get my brides to realize that they can’t call me 24 hours a day 7 days a week?
My biggest frustration is that I am having a hard time making my brides understand that just because I work from home, doesn’t mean they can contact me or text me at all hours during the day and night. This is even a part of my consultation that I explain my business hours during the week and that I am available by appointment only on the weekend. Do you have a suggestion?
Are you a wedding planner? Brides tend to assume that when they’ve hired you they can call you whenever, wherever. And that can be a lot when they’re freaking out!
The truth is that you’ve probably trained them to think they can contact you any time they want by answering their phone calls, emails and texts. You can’t stop them from contacting you at any hour…but you CAN train them to only expect a response at certain times.
How to Relieve the Pressure
1) Give yourself permission not to feel like you have to respond personally any time they call.
You have a right to business hours just like any other business. Their question, rant or bitch session is NOT a life or death emergency! A response within 24 hours is very reasonable.
2) Decide what times and days you’ll be available and tell your brides when and how they can contact you.
Set up an auto reply for your email and voice message that explains the hours when you can be contacted directly. This response is adapted from Tim Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week:
I am currently checking and responding to emails and voicemail twice each day between 12-1pm and 4-5pm EST from Monday to Thursday. If you need to speak to me directly, please call PHONE# during these times.
Otherwise, please leave me a message and I will get back to you during the times when I am checking my messages. Be sure to give me your email because I can often respond faster that way.
Thanks so much for understanding that this helps me serve you better and more efficiently. Have a wonderful day!
Limiting your availability makes you more efficient and trains your brides to contact you when you want to be available for them. It may take a little while to retrain them, but once you’ve established those boundaries it will be a huge relief.
3) Set up a contact person to respond to their requests with a professional yet firm message of, “I’ll make sure Julie gets your message and she’ll respond to you by…” if necessary.
If you really believe that your clients will go NUTS without an immediate response, have a real person (not you!) take the message.
A couple solutions: you can hire an agency like Regus to answer phone calls and take messages for you. They’ll forward messages by phone, text or email. This way the bride gets to speak to a real person and you can get back to them when you’re ready.
A virtual assistant can also help with email responses. I’ve found some amazing talented assistants on HireMyMom.com who will work for about $10 an hour.
You deserve off hours! Give yourself permission to have them and train your brides to respect them.
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