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How to Set Boundaries: Exactly What to Say to Late & No Show Customers

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Today we’re covering a really important issue.

It’s an area that many people struggle with and it can literally crush your profits, your growth and your entire business if you don’t get it handled.

I’m talking about setting boundaries.

Specifically, how to set boundaries with your clients and clearly communicate your policies about lateness, no-shows, payments, refunds and all the other stuff that drives you crazy.

Click play below to watch today’s MarieTV episode for some excellent word-for-word scripts you can put in place right now.

You’ll also hear a story that inspired my most controversial tweetable yet.

Click here for today’s Tweetable.

In the comments below, tell me specifically how you will use today’s video about setting boundaries to improve your business.

I want to hear what specific policies you need to set now or . . .

Tell me how you’ll revise an existing policy to better serve you and your customers.

Remember, real traction comes from taking action. By leaving a comment with your specific action step, you’ll separate yourself from the masses who say “that’s a great idea Marie . . . I should do that.”

Tell me your specific action step and put yourself on the fast track to success now!

Thank you as always, for reading and watching!

P.S.  If you have friends or colleagues with horrible business boundaries, please share this post.  They’ll thank you for it!

xoxo

Marie Forleo

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Chas

Just the Short & Sweet~ 15 min.~15% surcharge; 30 min. 30%; cancellation~ +50%.

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Monica

Marie, I love you! What an invaluable message today.
You rock and thanks for that Chub Rock clip :) fun!
xxoo Monica

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Love

MY CLIENTS ARE NEVER LATE!!!! I have always charged my full fee in advance $500. I always get it! I simply ‘NOW’ that will attract great clients… lose the doubt.

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Stacey | Soul Intelligence

I like that! K.I.S.S. – keep it short and sweet!

Before I work with clients they have to digitally sign-off on my coaching agreement (which includes information on cancellations/rescheduling). I’m now going to add boundaries about being late.

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Love

I don’t know why my sister is chronically late and never returns calls. I think its disrespectful to be late and not return calls.

If you want to stop people from being late or not showing up… make sure you offer a service that is explosive and make sure you charge more money for your services.

When I charge under $200 people don’t take me as seriously. I provide an amazing service and charge a higher rate. For some reason I only attract top professionals who know the value of time.

Love you all, Love-

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Sarah

Marie, I love this one, but for a different reason than the focus.

Because I am one of the chronically late.

And it does create mischief in my life.
And it does piss my friends off.
And it does hamper my credibility.
And yes, coaching calls that I have paid for – late.

Good to hear some no nonsense advice.

It’s a funny thing lateness…

A very strange habit.

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Sarah

Did I mention prevented me getting promotions?

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Leigh

I had a loving boss who called me out on being chronically late and told me it was going to hold me back from getting promotions etc. She VERY FIRMLY almost yelled at me and I cried! Anyway, I did deep soul searching, examined the various reasons why I was late, spent $100 at Target and put a clock in every room in my house including the bathroom (so important so I don’t get lost in doing hair/makeup in the morning) and I was never late to a single thing ever again for work. Ever. It’s been 2 years now.

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Sarah

Ooh thank you!

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Suzie

I hear ya on that… I’ve been quite guilty of that too, and it’s caused me a lot of stress in my life… and it’s also making me a bit chunky/fat in the gut area. Dang Marie – the truth hurts!! Thanks! :)

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shantala

ditto

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Udo, the Girl (aka Doka)

Good luck with breaking it! I used to be late, too. Honestly, it still happens (I think everyone is late now and then), but never to the degree of what it used to be — causing me to lose out on opportunities I cared a SH*T-ton about.

Just because you own up to it now doesn’t mean you will be changed right now, unfortunately.

So I’m writing you this good luck message. It really just takes increasing your presence of mind. You may need some tools to help you do that — alarms, a friend, etc. And just practice.

Also a lot of forgiveness on yourself.

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Mandi

My New Year’s resolution this year was to kick the habit of rushing to be on time. For important things I was barely on time, but personal stuff I was habitually late. I have made enormous progress. My secret: double the time or add a 1/2 hour to my estimate of how long it will take me to get somewhere or get ready. Works like a charm, but I have to watch the clock and add that 1/2 hour. My life is much less stressful now.

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Fiona

I agree I am chroniacally late and it drives me crazy as with anyone elso ~new years resolution to change!! thankx for the valuable words ,ideas and generosity of info!!
Sunshine to you, Fiona

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Maria

Late?

Here is a possible script:

“Thanks for coming. You have already used X minutes of our appointment and have another Y minutes left. Let’s get down to business!”

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Love it Maria. To the point, no drama, and who can argue with that. I’m using this.

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Gemma W.

Cold, clinical and unfriendly. :-/

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

You know how sometimes you have a feeling with a new prospective client that a collaboration with them just isn’t going to work out? Recently I had that gut feeling and sure enough it was more than just a feeling. We had a meeting planned at a tea shop two blocks from where her class ended at 2pm. At 2:20 I finally walked home in frustration.

No-show.

She did eventually materialize at the coffee shop 50 minutes late but I was long gone. By refusing to wait around, I sent a clear message. Lateness is *not* an option.

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Lauryn Doll

Christina,

I’m glad you walked out. I’m learning so much with the interaction on this post. I’m a journalist and when I have to rearrange my schedule to talk to different celebrities and media personalities who are late or unapproachable, it gets on my nerves – moreso when they’re no-shows.

In the business and freelance world, time truly is money. It’s so much more respectful when you respect everyone’s time. I may be a mini-diva but if you can’t show up to your own reschedule we’ll have to see when I’m available (for interviews) … and as a freelancer, I’m definitely adopting these scripts.

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Christina Peressini

Many high fives to that.

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Sarah

Christina – I am a chronically late person and I WISH that more people would give LESS slack to lateness. I think it’s great to send clear messages. And it helps the late person understand boundaries better. Good on you for walking out.

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Vicky

Great video Marie! Your tweetable had me chuckling out loud. I’m definitely going to revise and revamp my refund policies and make it clearer and more effective.

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Jalanda James, NYC Videographer

I like the policy idea. The policy list is never done.

I had a client arrive 1 hour early. Freaked me out.

Now my policy says “do not show up more than 5 mins early for your shoot”.

Now, I know exactly when to expect people. Been working.

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Lauryn Doll

Jalanda!

LOL! That’s funny. I think they were simply trying to be respectful of your time, but I definitely understand! :)

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Stephanie

What is UP with the earlybird thing? My partner and I are photographers and recently we had someone arrive about 45 minutes early, AND they barely even apologized. This is a big annoyance to us because our studio is also our home and we are usually doing last minute prep right up until their appointment time.

I’ve wanted to put something like you did, like “do not be more than 5 mins early”, on a policy/FAQ page but it feels pointless because so many clients don’t seem to read the website or even the confirmation email we send before their appointment (argh!) I wish people would just use common sense and be on time!

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Kay Gillard

Great vid Marie, there are definitely certain clients who do that. I know that I have this lateness tendency in myself too but there is nothing like repeatedly late clients who snap that out of you a fair bit!
With the worst offenders I have to take a hard line. In the early days I had someone not show up and I had no policy in place to cover it. Fortunately, the clinic I was using to see her were very kind (as I was just starting out) and didn’t charge me, but they told me I needed to get my policy clear on it. 24 hour cancellation policy so they could resell the room and I could reschedule my time. I contacted the client to say that on this occasion I would not charge her, and she could rebook, but if this happened again without 24 hours notice I would have to charge her in full as the clinic would charge me in full. She showed to the next appointment, booked up for the next one and – guess what – she didn’t show up again, with no notice once again.
I couldn’t believe it, she had been so apologetic and I was clear to her before she rebooked. Once again I had travelled to another part of town to see her in this clinic – if she had been my only client there that day I would have been seriously pissed off. So what to do?
I spoke to someone who had been practising longer than me and said I was worried about billing her (bear in mind, in these kinds of clinics people pay when they arrive, not on booking, so I had not been paid for it at all) in case I lost the client as she said she was keen to work with me. This other practitioner was no nonsense and said ‘Kay, if she was keen to work with you, she wouldn’t have stood you up on 2 out of 3 sessions. Time to get tough and if you lose the client, you lose her, but you don’t need clients like that.’
She made me realise I was allowing a client to disrespect me because I was just starting out and scared that if I enforced a policy I wouldn’t have enough clients. I sent her a bill, explaining politely in my email that I had clearly explained the terms of the clinic to her last time she did this, and informed her that until she paid it she couldn’t rebook. Of course she didn’t pay, and I lost the client, but I became clear on my boundaries and was never messed around like that again.

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Lauryn Doll

Kay

I’m glad you stood your ground with your client. I’m currently getting over the fear of being too hard as a newbie as well!

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Johanna

Morning from Mattapoisett

This has been a tough one for me because I am THAT super agreeable person who has gotten taken advantage of, or put into a place that doesn’t make me a happy camper.

So I have been firm with my coaching clients about my boundaries (no, I will not work on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays nor at 8pm) when establishing their coaching sessions AND when I do reminders in which I explicitly tell them, again and again, “If you need to cancel or reschedule, I need 24 hours notice or you forfeit the session.”

It’s been tough for me because I want to be “understanding” and “agreeable” but I know that leads me to a not-so-happy place.

Great reminder to keep on sticking to my gut! Thanks.
xo Johanna

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Leah Shapiro

Johanna,

I can relate!! The scheduling thing can be difficult sometimes. I’ve very specific hours that I couch clients, and I find that people push those boundaries often. Especially friends!! They want to work with me but on their own terms…like Saturday afternoon or 7 PM.

I also want to be “understanding” and “agreeable” and I finally “got” that it works both ways. I expect clients to be “understanding” and “agreeable” to the hours I schedule coaching calls. ;-)

That shift in thinking has drastically reduced the number of times that I have to deal with it.

Rock on!
Leah

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Angelita

@ Johanna and Leah Shapiro –

Have you lost business with sticking to your guns about clients wanting you to be on “their” terms?

What do you say to them when they “complain” about your lateness policy?

Just curious….

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Leah Shapiro

Angelita,
I’ve definitely had people not work with me because I don’t have hours on Saturday, but then they weren’t my idea client either.

I want to work with people who are committed and who want to work with me. I find that time can just be an excuse. If they don’t have enough control over their schedule to make my Tuesday, Wed, Thursday 10-5 coaching hours work for them, we aren’t a good fit.

As far as complaining about my lateness policy goes, that has never come up. But if they were to complain I would say – “my time is valuable, just like yours. In order to maintain my schedule I make myself available for the block of time you chose when you scheduled the appointment. Let’s jump in and use the time we have left.”
BUT…I will say…the trick to making my boundaries work, and dealing with people who push them, is not to take it personally. As soon as I start making it about me, and then not respecting my time, we have a problem. Sometimes it hard to do!

Hope that helps!

Rock on!
Leah

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Julia Rohan

Another super-helpful video, Marie. I have my policies in writing but I am terrible at enforcing them. I don’t have any chronically-late clients but I do have a good amount of last-minute cancelations. This Q & A is inspiring me to update my policy a bit, both on the site and in my new client paperwork. Thanks again!

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Linda Ursin

I’m never late unless I have a damn good reason to be late. I usually arrive early for appointments, because I give my self enough time for unexpected things, like having trouble finding the correct entrance to the building.

I’m putting this up on my ToS as soon as possible:

“When you book an appointment with me, I will honor that appointment, and I hope you will too. If not, it’s on you.

If you’re late, you loose that amount of time.
If you don’t show, you will still be charged in full.”

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Candace Smyth

Oh girl how I have struggled with this one.

I have worked with so many clients in my 12 years as an attorney, and what I know is that the more depressed, emotionally struggling they are, the later they will be or the more they will miss appointments. What this says to me is they don’t feel they deserve my time — that at least is the thought behind the emotion that comes up (or the resistance that comes up) when they miss an appointment.

I used to be so understanding about this because I feel for them. I know they are struggling, but what I did by doing that was start to slip on taking care of my own self! I also step into the suffering with them instead of pull them up into a different energy. yep. I get exactly what you are saying.

So, if clients are late or a no show, its just not time for them to work with me. And, if those clients can make changes so that they start showing up on time, look at the lesson there! Awesome video.

xo, Candace

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Chrissie

Love that attitude! I think we sometimes forget that there are people that we are just not meant to work with and the situation is a lesson to both parties in some way shape or form. Timing is everything and there are times when people are not ready to work with you (or anyone), or it could be that there is someone else out there better suited for helping them with their particular situation which leaves room for new clients that are a better fit for you.

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Jessica

Thank you for posting this, Candace! I realized this is exactly my issue when it comes to enforcing boundaries. I don’t really worry that they may decide to stop working with me, but I do get caught up in the idea that if their life is *that* stressful (that they’d miss an appointment or trample another of my boundaries) that I can extend them a limitless amount of slack. And then I wind up rushing to keep their project on track, over working, and not taking good care of myself… which makes me more likely to be late (or unfocused) for an appointment with one of the people I pay to work with. Seeing it that way makes it clear–this is not a cycle I want to be a part of!

Seeing your explanation of how you look at it now made it so clear–of course there’s another way to look at it–one that honors both them *and* me. I really appreciate your perspective on this. (And thank you, Marie! The video, as usual, is delightful.)

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Great approach Candace.

Realizing that not all people are meant to work with you is sort of in the same category as the advice, “sometimes you should just say ‘no’”.

Also, by assuring your seemingly unworthy clients that they *do* deserve your time and help, might light a fire under them to make the most of their opportunities to meet with you.

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danielle

Marie,
This comes at a perfect time, as I am cutting down on private clients- so the time slots I do have are more valuable. Because I am a yoga teacher, sometimes people feel like they can take advantage of me and come late, cancel appointments, etc- because “oh, she’s the nice yoga teacher, she won’t care.” NO MORE!
I don’t have any policies on my website, but I will, FO SHO, by next week. A “late” and “less than 24 hr cancellation” policy will provide boundries without an uncomfortable conversation, and losing my status as “nice.”
THANKS A BUNCH!

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Jamie

Danielle- I totally had the same problem! Then last year I made a private client contract that outlined all of these issues, so we’re clear from the start. I keep a credit card on file for every client, they get charged 50% if they cancel within 24 hours, and the full amount if they are a no show. I haven’t had any no-shows since. xxoo Jamie

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Lauryn Doll

These are great ideas. I currently have only used PayPal for invoicing clients, but at this point I’m looking at stepping up and requiring more money. Sometimes, I forget people have credit cards to afford all the things they really want – just like they have time to spend doing things they really want – and prioritize.

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Lisa La Nasa

Thank you for this great video, Marie!

I had struggled with this for years in my interior design business. Clients and contractors completely taking advantage of my time and I did not set boundaries because I felt I needed to be accommodating/approachable and easy to work with. Wow, the naivety of youth!

Since switching my focus to creating an artisan tile company a few years ago (and lessons learned from being burned a few too many times), I am not encountering the same problems or stress that I once had. Thanks to your advice and the previous comments though, I have found many tips (as always) for ways I can firm up my tile biz policies as well as my interior design policies when I take the occasional consulting job.

Thanks for another excellent video! I’m going to watch it again right now…

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Interesting how moving from service-based work to a product-based company changes the outlook. I know it too from having graphic design offerings and a greeting card collection. Things seem so much more cut and dried when it’s tangible goods instead of intangible services.

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Vidette Vanderweide

NOTHING gets my panties in a wad more than people being late…for anything. I am a firm believer of “how you do one thing is how you do everything,” so….as you said, Marie, if you’re late to our appointment, you’re probably late for everything.

I LOVE the idea of the policies being up front and personal for all to see. I didn’t have that, but will be implementing that today! (Cause that’s how I do everything :)

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Robin Hallett

Thank you Marie for addressing a very important topic.
Boundaries come from within. We teach people how to honor them (consciusly and unconsciously).

In my first few years in practice, all kinds of whackiness happened – clients who were late, early, one showed up drunk, not to mention the dreaded “I forgot my checkbook” dilemma.

Each situation presented me with something to work through. I learned to speak up and stand my ground.

Speak up ahead of time. Don’t go through the waiting and hoping it will turn out okay. Say something simple while booking the first appointment – this can also go into a confirmation email:
Please plan to arrive no more than 5 minutes early for your session. kindly note that the nature of my schedule is such that I cannot extend the time to you if you are late.

To further support myself in feeling strong and clear, I have written policies that I can fall back on when it gets tricky with clients. If I am feeling uncomfortable about a situation I ask myself: what’s the policy here?

Hugs all around!

Robin

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

I love “kindly note that the nature of my schedule is such that I cannot extend the time to you if you are late” and I’m adding it to my copy now. Thanks!

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Stephanie Coradin

Great Video as usual Marie – But I LOL at your tweetable “Being late makes you fat” I think it’s AWESOME that right there is a reason to never be late…LOVE IT!

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Ameena Falchetto

Your tweetable ROCKS.

Standing your ground with clients will make them respect you more for being honest, professional, and serious about getting results for them (and you)

Awesome as always Marie … :)

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

“Standing your ground with clients will make them respect you more for being honest, professional, and serious about getting results for them (and you)”…

I second that!

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Vanessa

Hi Marie, Great again!
I became clearer with this in the beginning of 2012. I had a cancellation/rescheduling policy that people signed, but no one read it! It was buried. So, DUH, if they know about it they are more likely to respect it! LOL Now we tell them on the phone, they sign, it’s on my website and they know.
I usually let the first one slide but remind them that I have that policy. I know things can happen like emergencies or issues with children. This is really for the chronically late and no showing types, but honestly, I don’t attract that many of those anymore.
I had someone no show last week and I realized that I didn;t do anything about it either and I didn’t hear back! I guess I am going to have to bill them! It does make me nervous, especially when they don’t have a package because then I have to actually send a bill or receive payment over the phone. It’s nice to have someone work with me to do some of this too!

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Laura Roman

In my experience, if you send a professional looking bill, people will pay it.
Also, getting credit card information in the first session, letting them know that you won’t use it unless they no show, or don’t bring payment to the session. Be clear, so that they can’t come back later and say that you didn’t tell them.

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Meagan

Great! Now I have a policy page to write! LOL!

No seriously, this is great & I soooo need this. This will be so helpful & will take the ickiness out of calling people out for wasting my & their time. Thank you Marie!!

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Vanessa

Oh also I wanted to add that to cut down on this all together, I call newer people, those that don’t come weekly, 24-48 hours before their appt as a “reminder”. I don’t say confirmation because that implies that they can say yes or no. This greatly cuts down on people forgetting or mistaking the time.

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Great idea Vanessa. “See you tomorrow at 4,” instead of “I hope you can still make your 4pm appointment tomorrow.” You are showing your clients how you want to be treated. A minor shift in wording but a major shift in expectation.

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Heidi Thorne

Love calling it a “reminder!” Good tip!

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Melissa Ghedini, Wellness with Melissa

Omg, I’m soooo tweeting this one! Thanks Marie!

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beth

Because of a couple of no shows, I run a tutoring business, I am thinking about instituting a deposit equal to the amount of 2 full sessions.

If a client doesn’t show not only have I lost that possible booking time, I have lost the time that I put into preparing for the client and sometimes I have lost funds spent to purchase materials I need to tutor that student. Because I am a cash business, I have no way to collect from clients who don’t show unless they are willing to pay to rebook. Most won’t rebook. I don’t object to losing that sort of client but I do object to working for free before they got there.

The hardest part is being able to be firm but kind. I feel guilty and mean when I do things like that. I know that there is no reason to feel guilty, I have stated my policies up front, so I am working on that by doing the action anyway in the kindest way possible.

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Kimberly

Hello Beth!
I own a tutoring company too! My payment policy is that they pay me on or before the first session for the equivalent of one month’s of sessions (whether that is two, four or eight sessions). To them, that guarantees their ‘spot’ as tutoring can get crazy busy all at once. For me, it guarantees income, and a steady schedule as well. I do allow ‘drop ins’ but charge a little bit more per session and still require that they pay for a minimum of two sessions at a time (payable on or before our first session).
I have a policy (which I will reword soon) that is basically to the point which I provide on paper and have on my website. I require at least a week’s notice, so that I can schedule in people on my waitlist, and if they give me less than a week’s notice its ‘up to my discretion’ (if they’re sick I’ll forgoe that, but if they’re “sick” on a regular basis I will end up charging them). The first time I had a no show, i had a parent call 2 minutes before the appointment saying ‘Oh, Suzie’s brother forgot to pick up Suzie, so if she’s going to be there, she’ll be really late’ my reply was “Oh, that’s too bad! I was looking forward to working with her. Well, when she does show up, We’ll continue and work hard for the time we have left’. The student didn’t show up, and since I had been pre-paid, I considered it as a missed appointment, documented it and continued on. The parent is now conscious and makes sure that SHE can get the student to the appointment. The first time I did this, I felt a little guilty, but then I realized that MY TIME is WORTHY and I deserve to be taken seriously!! You do too! Hope this helps!

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M.A.

You are so good. Thank you for these videos. I’m even workin’ on my hip hop. Yo!

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Udo, the Girl (aka Doka)

I used to be the client who was ALWAYS late. It is a deeper problem. I mean, some people are late without remorse, but I was that person who comes late and almost wants to cry. It feels as if lateness is just a part of who you are and you have no control! Its not fun to be late. This is what my coach did that I really appreciated.

She confronted me about the lateness and actually spent time with me to delve into WHY I might be doing it. What subconscious reason is causing me to be late? Then she helped me create strategies to never do it again and motivated me to give enough commitment to this to not be late again.

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Udo, the Girl (aka Doka)

If any late-people are reading this, I’ll tell you what we discovered:
First, we discovered that my lateness is the same reason why I procrastinate. Fear of success, fear of failure, all that jazz.

Then we looked at why it is so HARD for me to break away from being late. I really felt like lateness was a part of who I was as a person. I felt hopeless against it. I identified with it. That is the issue. When you identify with it, how can you let it go? When you believe that’s who you are, if you let it go, you lose your identity! Ego don’t want that! That’s right, a part of you does not want to be on time and might be holding you back if you’re not aware of it.

She talked to me about how to let it go, forgiving myself, etc, etc. Then we set up real strategies to keep me from being late. Over estimating my time, alarms, reminders, etc. It takes practice to go from a tardy person to an on-time person, but you will get there. :)

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Hilary

Thanks for the tips, Udo. I am chronically late for my 9-5, and I certainly do know the reason why… when my heart’s not in it, I’m late. I get it.

I do need to put this policy in place for my clients. For my tarot clients, I am never late; I’m usually early! And if I expect my tarot clients to be on time for our appointments, then I should force myself to better with my own scheduling/procrastination/tardiness.

Thanks for the tweetable, Marie! (I’m trying to lose weight right now, so this was a well-timed one!)

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Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Udo,
A friend who suffers from ADD was greatly helped by setting multiple alarms on her phone. Small habit to get into but once she cottoned on to it she has vastly reduced her tardiness. Chalk one up for technology. It does occasionally let us down but sometimes it can be a godsend.

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Kimberly Houston

Great advice Marie, as always!
The issue I have is with just one client, and since she’s the first client I took on when I started my business, and a really stellar person too, I’m feeling anxious about making a couple of necessary tweaks with her, but I must. Our agreement is that I bill her every two weeks, and she sends the check the day after I invoice her. (Yes, she still pays me by check!) Since she’s in Chicago and I’m in North Carolina, the checks don’t arrive for 4-5 days, then once deposited, my bank doesn’t credit the $$$ to my account for 2 days. This isn’t usually an issue, but there have been times she didn’t mail a check until 5 days after invoice because she’s extremely busy in her own business, and that can screw up my monthly budget, not to mention add stress to my life. When this happens I get annoyed and resentful, yet it’s my responsibility to deal with it, and my bad for not taking care of it sooner, so it doesn’t make much sense to get annoyed. : )
So the policy I will set with her going forward is to start invoicing/billing via Paypal integrated with something like Freshbooks (need to research how this will work first). I’ll give her 30 days notice that I’m going to begin this policy with all my clients in April, so she has time to make any adjustments on her end.
Because who needs the cortisol? ; )

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Stephanie

Kimberly, I use FreshBooks with PayPal for my business and it works well.

The payment is instant if they pay with a credit card, and then I can immediately transfer their payment to my bank account and have it within a couple of days. You will pay PP fees for credit card transactions — around 3% each.

If they pay with eCheck (“PayPal Business Payments”) the fee to you is only 50 cents no matter the transaction amount, but it takes a few days for the check to clear and then it takes a few days to transfer the payment from PP to your bank account, which is a bit of a delay, but might still take less time than her mailing a check. :)

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Angelita

@Stephanie,

How do you process credit cards or checks that are not online? I had one person who didn’t want to use her card online (she didn’t feel safe / these was years ago) and so she sent me a check. I had to wait almost a week for the check to clear.

Any way around these waiting times? An way to process a card by simply taking the # the way catalogs do when you call them?

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Stephanie

Angelita — if you want to take a credit card over the phone like catalogs do… do you have an iPhone/Android smartphone, iPod touch, or iPad? If so, I’d suggest using Square. Their main offering is the card swiper for taking payments in person, but you can also manually enter the card.

https://squareup.com/pricing

They offer next-day payment processing directly into your bank, which is VERY nice. The only downfall is the slightly higher fee than PayPal (3.5% + 15¢ per transaction for manually-entered cards) but you can always pass that fee along to those customers that insist on the option.

Reply

Laura Roman

First, I have learned the hard way that everything must be in writing and give a copy to your client. Have them sign both! Also, it my be prudent to read it to your clients ( I know, you’re all sayin’, “I hate when someone reads to me”) But my experience is that people don’t read agreements, they just sign them and then are soooo amazed when you are charging them.
Be crystal clear in the beginning!
In terms of late appointments, I have in my Service Agreement, that this time is reserved for them, therefore, if they are late,they will be seen only for the time that they have reserved.
If you don’t establish boundaries, you will establish resentment, and then you will be less effective in the work that you do with this person.
Thanks, Marie
xxoo
Laura

Reply

Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Yes yes yes about reading the contract aloud. I agree with this completely. Someone recently did this with me for a volunteer position I hold. By reading through it and aloud AND having me sign it, not only are the points of this “cultural contract” now made crystal clear, but I feel like a real part of the team. The team doesn’t want me letting them down and I don’t want to let them down. Everyone, paid employees and volunteers, all have to have the contract read to them and then sign it. I love it.

Reply

Kelly

I’ve had to use wording like this in my “day job” as a teacher who runs and after school program. I said after 4 weeks of waiting outside in the cold with students who didn’t have a ride yet:

“Please remember that honor band rehearsal ends at 4:15. Out of respect for your time, we always dismiss on time so that your students can be outside within a few minutes of that. In turn, please respect our time by making sure your child has a ride by 4:25. We cannot and will not leave your student unattended, but we do have our own commitments to attend to after rehearsal. If you know you are going to be late, please contact another parent from the list below to arrange transportation for your child.”

I firmly believe the word “respect” is the key factor…it’s been two weeks since this message went out and we haven’t had anybody late :-)

Now it’s time to put similar verbiage into my business policies page, but I offer FREE consultations. How do I encourage timeliness when I don’t have a credit card or something to charge?

Reply

DivineYoganista

Shit, no more being late for me! LMAO

Reply

Tanya Malott

“Being late makes you fat!”….I can see it now on the cover of Shape magazine! Good one, Marie!

Reply

susan

lmao! SO that’s why I’ve gained 20 lbs!!!
Thank you more than you know for pointing that one out to me.
I hate being late…now even more because it makes me fat.
Beautiful.
susan :)

Reply

Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

I only offer coaching packages. Once someone invests in a package, I send them a “Welcome Packet” that includes this letter:

Hi !

I’m so thrilled you’ve chosen to work with me, and this letter is intended to give you a good idea of what to expect from the .

Please create a folder in your email program to file our emails, and add this letter so you can refer to it as necessary (to schedule phone sessions, etc.).

Below I’ve outlined a few key things to keep in mind:

· Each month you and I will have a X minute one-on-one phone session. Go here to set up our coaching call appointments. If possible, identify a date and time that will work for you on a consistent basis (e.g. every third Friday at 12 p.m.). If that’s not possible, please schedule your session a week in advance, and at least 24 hours in advance, so you are sure to have a time available for you.

Please note that you are responsible for scheduling our time together, and being prepared and on time for the call. The nature of my schedule is such that I cannot extend the time to you if you are late. If you miss a call, you will be forfeiting that time with me.

· Attached is a “Getting Acquainted” Form and a “Follow-Up” Form. In preparation for our “Getting Acquainted” call, please complete the “Getting Acquainted” form and send it back to me as soon as possible.

You will complete the “follow-up” form and send it to me before any subsequent calls. Both of these forms help me know what we’ll focus on during our calls, and helps both of us to show up prepared.

Please send the forms to me at least 24 hours prior to our calls so that we can both make the most of our time together. If you’re unable to complete and send in your form the night before our call (at the very latest), I may ask you to reschedule.

Again, it makes a huge difference when you do this prep work, and you and I will both find our sessions much more effective and valuable when we both come prepared and focused.

**

There’s more to the Welcome Letter, but that I think that excerpt covers your question. :-)

Reply

Christina Peressini • Nib & Tuck

Thanks for this Stacey. It’s wonderful to see real examples of policies and contracts that people are successfully working with.

Reply

Alane Weissman

Being late is a time management problem. I see it in my 13 year old daughter. She thinks its going to take her 15 minutes to finish a project that will clearly take her an hour!! You seriously need to figure out how long it takes you to do things! I have a friend who is constantly late for everything. I have to tell her the wrong time just to get her to be on time! It really is completely disrespectful and needs to be addressed right at the beginning of a relationship with a client. BTW being too early isn’t good either!

Reply

shantala

have a chronic late and no show client that did a 3rd reschedule sun night. I have been cutting him slack because I’m coaching him on getting into the acting industry and I realized it’s just hurting both of us.

Send him payment voucher and told him it must be paid before our session and not after. thanks for the advice!

Reply

Jessica Drummond

I have a clear policy that my clients sign up front, and they pay me in advance so that is helpful. But, you’re right to also see it as a teachable/ coachable moment for some clients. Often their lateness is a symptom or example of other issues going on that are limiting their health or success.

And, yes, over scheduling, running stressed to the next appointment and all of that will burnout your energy, amp up your cortisol (or completely wear out your adrenals!), and knock all sorts of things out of whack physically! Love the tweetable! :)

Love your videos Marie!
xo,
Jessica

Reply

Sandy

Hi Jessica,
with clients that don’t know you..how do you get them to pay you in advance?

Reply

Amethyst

Great video, and I haven’t seen any controversy around your Tweet yet. :-)

As for someone who asked about free consultations and cancellations, that’s an easy one: send at least 3 questions people must answer and return at least 24 hours prior to their appointment.

I also send an email 48 hours before the appointment if I haven’t gotten the answers back yet with a reminder that they have 24 hours left to return that info before their appointment at such-and-such date, time.

If they don’t return it, I send out a “Your appointment has been cancelled notice” stating that because they failed to send the information as required. I also tell them that if they would like to reschedule, they can sign up again and will be put on the waiting list for when my next free consultations open.

I keep a waiting list (I’m actually doing a free training today about setting up these free consultations – look for Spirit-driven conversations that sell: turning conversations into value at my website, free replay available). I’ve found it much more productive to only offer so many free consultations every so often.

Now when I open mine up (usually once a month or so), they get booked in less than 24 hours and everyone fills out all the info. It’s rare someone doesn’t answer the questions these days, but if the don’t, that spot can just go to someone else. No biggie.

Reply

Andrea

Such an awesome video. Just what I needed. Even though I’ve created policies for of businesses I work with and even have one for my own company I found myself hardly ever giving it out unless I had a problem which is many times too late – so thanks for reminding me that you have to be clear upfront and get your stuff right if you want and expect the client to get their stuff right too.

Reply

Genevieve

Hilarious tweet, unfortunately not an absolute truth, I personally know a few chronically late people, effing annoying to say the least but not fat!!! My mom being one of them, she’s always been skin and bones, and a girl I went to school with, constantly late but very athletic, she’s now a body builder without an oz of fat…

I have a question regarding the late or cancellation policy. What about flexibility? For example’s sake if you have a regular client who’s always respected her appointments but an emergency comes up, like a car accident. In this type of situation what to you suggest? Remain firm with your policy or is there room for compassion, letting her know this is a one time exception but you will bend the rules due to the circumstances.

Reply

Leah Shapiro

Funny, as I’m reading this I’m waiting for a client who is late for her appointment, and appointment that we had to reschedule because she “forgot about it” last week.
I realize that I have been wishy-washy about up-holding my policies!
I also can be unclear when I’m dealing with friends. I’m not clear and have an- “we’ll work it out” attitude at times. I’ve done some stuff to shift that but it still comes sometimes.

I’m going to revisit my policies, and put a copy on my website to that I can send people to and link to from my services page.

Rock on!
Leah

Reply

Monica Zimmerman

Yes! being late is not good business tactic or even a human tactic! I know when I am late it is because I am afraid of moving forward or I really don’t want to do something. Breathing is a good start for moving through that tough time. SO compassion and clear words work for me and my clients. Having it in writing is great!
Thanx Marie…again!

Reply

Megan

When I meet with potential clients I clearly outline (as in, read it all out to them) my contract. It outlines how I expect to be paid, when it should be done, and the payment methods I accept.
It also outlines cases in which I will or will not refund money.

I do need to put in place a policy to include my meeting times, as I make myself too flexible with clients. My fear is losing clients because I won’t meet them outside of business hours.

Reply

Racheal Cook

Love this one! For sure going to be updating my policies around this – I’ve had one client who repeatedly is late. I adore working with her except for this one issue – and would love to continue into a second year but this has gotta stop. Thanks for making this very simple and straightforward – getting this in writing before we renew for next year.

Reply

Darris

Oooo, hot button for this mama . . . I have a lot of great qualities but one of my worst habits is chronic lateness and it drives my husband batty. Bottom line is that being late shouts “I’M MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU!” Not exactly something you want to shout at your clients . . . I’m recommitted to being on time . . . thanks for the nudge Marie!

BTW, who’s the dancer/music you flashed in the vid?

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Dawn Damico

re-tweeted the tweetable, with the warning (just in case anybody got confused) that the relationship of being LATE and getting FAT had NOTHING to do with pregnancy – in this case! :-)

I get very upset with myself when I’m late so I always tell people – If I’m late, don’t wait for me….I will catch up to YOU. Great advise – as always (and your hair looks fabulous!)

Reply

Christin McClave (@FamilyBizChick)

Love hearing this advice! I do have a policy, but sometimes, my inner momma comes out and doles out compassion rather than my inner business goddess who wants to get paid for the value I bring!

Thanks for sharing the copy too. Very helpful. I think the best piece of advice for me is also to remind and your client and talk through it up front, instead of just shoving a contract at them in writing, hoping they “get it”.

Reply

Stephenie Zamora

Thank you for this Marie, a very timely reminder. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write some policies for my design clients because too often, they miss their deadlines, take a long time to get me feedback or fall off the face of the earth for a bit, then except me to finish things up ASAP when they return. Instead, I’m going to clearly let them know that if they miss their deadlines, their project is subject to rescheduling, with no refunds available.

Thank you for the nudge! xo

Reply

Marta Laurent Veciana

Here is what I state in my Terms and Conditions:

“Client is responsible to be on time: Tour time starts counting from the time agreed with the client to meet the guide. If the client is late, it’s time wasted from the tour. There are no refunds for wasted time when clients are late, and the tour must finished at the time that was planned upon booking.”

I love the idea of time being valuable, so I’ll study the way to add it to my script!

By the way, I’m usually always ponctual not just for my tours but also for my other appointments. But I started getting some therapy sessions and for some reason I forgot to show up a couple of times and I’ve been late a couple too. Don’t know why it’s happening, but I’m quite ashamed as I haven’t been told off nor made to pay… I definitely need to work on that!

Reply

Katie

I have a somewhat different approach: I give clients an appointment not for a time period (e.g., 1 hour) but for a start and stop time (e.g., from 2 to 3) and they pay when they schedule the appointment. If they show up 55 minutes late they can have the remaining 5 minutes — fine, but they’re finished at the stipulated time. I believe that being clear that this is the end time, makes it clear to them that the hour can’t be “pushed back”; it happens at this explicit interval.

I do have a one-time forgiveness policy that is laid out along with my scheduling policy. Each client gets one “oh, my god, this traffic is so much worse than usual” or whatever. They can decide when they want to use it, but they only get one (I do make exceptions if they’ve wound up in the hospital having an arm set or something similar, but I don’t publicize that, that’s just about being a human.)

Otherwise, I require 24 hours notice for a refund. And it’s all written down in 11 point type in a contract with very clear headlines that I go over with them when they sign up.

I’ve found that clients react well. For some reason, they like the idea that if they walk in 45 minutes late, they won’t be met with scowls and disapproval; we’ll just get to work. The fact that they’re paying full price for 1/4 of the time seems to be okay under those circumstances. I think the simple act of making explicit not just the start time but the end time has a clarifying effect on how they think of the appointment. But for whatever reason, no one has ever complained and while many have been significantly late, none has been so more than once.

Reply

Emilie Rose Jackson

Hey Marie! Maybe THAT’S why I can shake these last ten pounds! ;) I’m never late myself, but I’m always JUST on time. and I do put myself through a lot of stress to make that happen. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot myself lately, thanks for the reinforcement. In terms of how I’ll relate this to my own business, I don’t have one, but my mother does, and she gets last-minute phone calls about jobs all the time, and it certainly does a number on her! We’ll have to update her website to be really clear on this, and also, maybe put her policy at the end of every proposal.

Reply

Madelyn George

This is great! I can’t wait to start losing weight by showing up on time. Awesome incentive. Seriously, I can think of so many reasons why it is definitely going to work.

Reply

Lauryn Doll

God Bless your parents for conceptualizing you onto this Earth!

This was such an important message that I’m just now driving home with people. I’ve lost so much money trying to be nice – from not setting high enough service fees to not really even employing a strict contractual agreement.

I had a client that took weeks to pay a balance and it threw my biorhythms off. In addition to working as a digital marketer, I’m also a journalist and I force myself to learn WordPress design when necessary… I do a lot! When celebrities are late to interviews, I hand them off. When clients are late to paying, I play really nice and throw my energy off.

Now, I’m in so many binds from being nice that now it’s time for what I dub the “Eff you Pay me” contract, which, essentially, says in no uncertain terms that you will pay me either 50% down or 100% upfront, and what the late fees are. You are also going to sign this contract by hand, or by electronic signature that is admissible in court. No time for the garbage!

Reply

Tisha

Love this topic! Great script Marie, thanks for sharing. I’ve definitely learned that it is best to be clear up front and avoid uncomfortable,confusing situations after the fact.
Blessings!

Reply

Lisa Bondesio

Marie, yet again you’ve made me roar with laughter after a particularly tough day wrangling some delightful, but very French clients. Not only do you inspire laughter, you inspire success with your witty take on being a female entrepreneur! I salute you!

Reply

Glynnis

Brilliant one Marie! Yah, I have become ‘TOUGH LOVE’ on this one with my Indian Head Massage Practice. I send the policy and confirmation of schedule in bulleted points in an email the minute the appointment is made. Here is the email:

Your massage is scheduled for …
Here is some information about your visit that may be helpful:
• The address here is …
• Please wear comfortable clothing & plan on being here for an hour and 15 minutes for your first visit.
• Cancellation? With less than 24 hours notice, a 50% fee with rescheduling is due, otherwise payment in full is required.
• The fee for a one hour treatment is $85. Payments made with cash are preferable – HST is included in the price.
• Please arrive no earlier than your scheduled time, as treatments are sometimes scheduled back to back.

It works but I have had no shows a couple times. As I don’t take credit card numbers upfront I consider this very bad karma for the client. Has happened rarely but I am sure there is another way to prevent this too.

Reply

Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Lucky Bitch

I very rarely take on clients who are late – it’s happened though in initial “no charge” sessions and it’s a giant red flag.

Also – I’ve stopped doing gift vouchers or giving away sessions as part of a door prize because people don’t value it.

I had one person who got two sessions in a lucky door prize turn up 20 minutes late to our second session and then say “oh, I thought it would be ok if I called within the hour”. And she was walking to work at the same time.

Another one from a gift voucher (paid for by a friend) rescheduled many times.

This week, I had someone turn up 8 minutes late with no apology for a 30 minute intro session and I had to say – “You’ve got 22 minutes left” instead of just extending. Needless to say, I didn’t invite her to work with me further.

BIG LESSON – No giveaways, no gift vouchers and any complimentary sessions are on time or else.

Reply

Akua

Love it!
Thank you.

Reply

Riikka

Hi Marie, great A, as always.

My massage clients sometimes forget their session and they know they will be charged for it anyways. But whenever I get sick, double book by accident or for some other reason have to cancel the appointment and don’t follow the 24 hour cancellation policy myself, I always give that client a complimentary 60min session. When they know this rule works both ways, there is a new level of respect that happens and situations like this are much easier to handle. Lots of love, Riikka

Reply

Pauly

Hey Marie,

Awesome piece of advice (as per usual), but I’ve got something slightly different I was hoping you could answer – and I’m guessing there’s others out there who might be in the same boat.

I run an online business 90% of the time, but I’m also a physician/teacher and run a live 1-month training program for one of the medical licensing exams… I’ll run a few per year.

Most recently I had a smaller group of students (7 I believe) and our start time was 8am, on the dot – which I made very clear. As the days went, I noticed it was 8:01, then 8:02, and before you know it they’re all coming in at 8:20. I made it very clear on day 1 that we’d be starting at 8:00 sharp, and when they started to become tardy I reminded them of the time policy.

It got to the point where I became fairly annoyed by the constant lateness and what appeared to me as a lack of respect (I mean if you’re showing up 20 minutes late daily I take it as a lack of respect). So I decided to implement a rule that anybody who shows up after 8:15 without letting me know a day in advance that they’d be late that they would miss the day. I haven’t held another live course since this problem, but I’m a bit worried that such a rule might lose some clients, which pay $2K each.

Any thoughts or suggestions on a better way to get people into a LIVE event as oppose to a coaching call or webinar?

Hope to hear back from you!

Pauly

Reply

marie

Hey Pauly, this is an easy one. You make it EXTREMELY clear and have them sign an agreement upon registration that walks them through the policy. I’d say – either they are there on time (which if you start at 8:00AM should be by 7:55AM) or they do not participate that day, no refund, no exceptions.

You tell people why the policy exists and how it benefits them and that you are only there to serve serious, A-Players. Either they are one or they’re not.

If someone, God forbid, is in an accident or has some other act of God deter them, they must call and you can of course, make adjustments. But no “traffic” or “sleeping late” or general BS will be accepted.

This is about you being more clear and firm with your ideal clients Pauly!

Reply

Pauly

Thanks Marie,

That sounds like a plan… I probably should have mentioned they did frequently walk in with Starbucks that were freshly purchased, so these weren’t any type of emergencies.

Great advice, I’ll implement it asap!

Thanks again,

Pauly

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Jonathan Rider

E-Myth.

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Bethanne

This is a good one, thanks Marie! So direct yet with a soft edge. Perfect for keeping your client yet setting the policies straight!

Reply

Heidi Thorne

For more “retail” product oriented businesses, I think having an FAQ page on the website does set policy. I’m thinking of strengthening those policies. Thanks!

Reply

Rebecca

I experienced the no-show issue as a newbie. My first client insisted on 2 phone meetings wkly, but was late or no-show most of the time. I had no formalized policies & hadn’t addressed these issues when I began working with him b/c I thought he would act as professionally as I did. I learned the hard way. I explained to him many times this was a problem that kept me from other tasks but his usual response was to request my being available after hours and weekends! (I learned very quickly to say NO.) After several months of this, I advised him to find someone else & notified him that I was no longer available to work with him. Although my other clients do not stand me up, I’m taking your advice & will develop policies about no shows, lates, and cancellations to include on my site and in my welcome package. Thanks for all your tips and advice – love Marie TV!

Reply

Emily

The first coach I ever mentored with used to say something like, don’t let clients convince you to coach them their way. If their way worked, they wouldn’t need you to coach them. Lateness, cancellations, no shows etc are all the bad habits of “their way” and as a coach, if I allow my clients to continue their bad habits during our work together, then I’m really not serving them. Thanks for the reminder!

Reply

russ

Wonderful!! I have let some renters slide on late payments and full payments, on occasion. Utilizing Seth Godin’s maxim: “Fire your worst customers” I will implement an addendum to my lease and get them out! For others, ( I rent to the poor in the inner city) I will base it on a case by case basis before I establish a more firm line. You can’t make up some of what I see! I can write a book!!

Reply

Dani Ruelas-Jones

I AM incorporating this! Thanks Marie! Ur the sh!t…(; (that’s a good thing by the way lol)

Reply

Karla Ticona

I’m gonna implement this right this second. I have a business in which people have being late or not showing up; and this is just what I needed to remind me that trust is something you build when you communicate clearly in advance.

An other thing that I highlight from this video is that “how you do one thing, is how you do everything else”. SO true and so acctionable.

Will rock it out this one on your name!!!

Thank you so much Marie. Kisses,
KT

Reply

helen

SMS reminders are also a great way of reducing no-shows. Text Back Appointments has created appointment booking software with integrated SMS notification which has helped ensure a stable income for those in the service industry by sending out those essential but gentle reminders in a friendly manner.

Reply

Melinda

Customers aren’t the only people who are late. The number of ‘professionals’ (including ‘coaches’) who have wasted MY time by leaving me waiting and waiting for appointments, call backs, promised emails and so on is ridiculous.

I might type out a cancellation policy for professionals where they have to pay me for the time I’ve spent waiting, particularly when I’ve paid in advance.

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Monique Antoinette

Love this video, especially the part about being late. Arriving late to scheduled appointments is a sign of arrogance that your time is more valuable then the person you’re meeting. Marie, when you said being late makes you fat-I hit the floor! You are Bad Ass…….thank you.

Reply

Sharon 'Shazz' Nembhard

I just can’t get over your perspective on these issues – it totally flips negative scripts. In business it’s neither fashionable nor cool to be late or a no show. Thank you Marie.

Reply

Amanda

Well, there’s no cost for what I do as a Consultant, as the money only comes into play for the goods themselves.

What I’m thinking would work best for my situation in relation to no-shows or late arrivals would be to tell them;

“Should you be a no-show or arrive late, it is at my own discretion as to if I will re-book another party with you. My policy does state after all, that for no-shows, there will be no re-bookings and for late arrivals, it really depends not only on how late you are, but how serious you are about my time. After all, you get my services for free, and there are others offering me money for my time, so why waste it on someone who’s not serious and who doesn’t see the value of my time? So please leave 15 minutes earlier than you normally would just to allow you the extra time to play with in getting to our meeting/the party and you will be fine.”

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NancyJo

I am a copywriter struggling with a boundary issue and this post was a welcome relief! I have a client who paid me $400 for a service 18 months ago. She rarely answered emails and gave me nothing to work with. She popped up from time to time needing everything done asap then disappeared. My last contact with her was 8 months ago when I sent her a request for information (a 2nd time). It went unanswered.
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One more thing want to mention, I always give a little analogy to prospective clients when going over my policy, I tell them, “It’s like pre-school or day care; if your child misses a day, you are still required to pay for it.”

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