I’ve gotten pretty good at just being blunt and honest when clients arrive too late. I’m usually pretty comfortable telling them that they missed their chance and will have to reschedule. I’m bad, however, at enforcing that whole “and you owe me for the time I sat here seething on Facebook because you didn’t think to at least text or call me to let me know you were running late.”
There are tons of reasons why it can be hard to stick to our policies. The biggest ones are that confrontation can be hard for many of us, and it’s hard to put your foot down and turn that client away when you really want her money.
But every so often, I revert to the run-and-hide technique. I know I’m not the only one who’s done it. You know what I’m talking about: Your client is 13 minutes late. Maybe you have errands to run, maybe you just aren’t feeling well that day, maybe confronting the client will only result in blowing up at her because you’re not feeling particularly patient with her shenanigans that day. But you are watching the clock tick away that 15 minute “grace period” and as soon as that second hand rounds the 12, you’ve either locked the door and turned off the lights to hide in the back room, or you’ve run out the back door to avoid passing them as they come in the front. Either way, you are GONE. It’s a take no prisoners sort of day. I say I’ll give you 15 minutes, you weren’t here, I’m out.
Sometimes you just have to prove your point to people. They keep showing up 13 minutes late and act like it’s no big deal because it’s less than the 15 you keep telling them they have. Or the ones who saunter in 16 minutes late and don’t understand why you’re flustered and annoyed. You can lecture till you’re blue in the face, but until they show up late one day and discover that you really aren’t there, it doesn’t seem to sink in.
So every so often, you have to be ready to run out the door as the clock is striking the time past leniency. Just go outside, get lunch, grab a coffee, go home and pet your dog if you live close enough to do it — and have a dog. Take that break and enjoy returning the confused text that says, “I’m here.” Just say, “Oh? I was too, but I didn’t think you were going to make it.”
Be sweet, reschedule, enjoy your break. Enforce your policy in a way that makes a point they won’t forget.