Should We Punish Our Clients For Last-Minute Requests?

There are some things in business we have control over, and there’s other stuff we don’t. It’s crucial to your success and happiness that you know which is which.

Almost all of my clients send me URGENT and ASAP requests at some point in our working relationship. Some clients do this more than others.

People are always telling me, “David, say no to those last-minute requests”,

They tell me, “Doing those tasks is only going to encourage your clients to be more disorganised. And they’ll send you more of the same. And then you’ll be forever rushing to finish tasks, working late and you’ll be stressed.”

So, apparently, doing last-minute tasks is “bad practice”.

The oft advice then is to punish your clients in some form. Perhaps whip them into shape by charging them more or refuse to do the task. I’m told that “Eventually, they’ll learn”. But is this really a good way to manage your business relationships?

Under ideal circumstances, it would be great for everyone if we didn’t leave things until the last minute. However, that’s not how life works. Life is complicated, and shit happens. Our priorities change daily.

How many times have you let things slip perhaps by accident or because something else became more important?

Did someone punish you for that?

So why should we punish clients for sending last-minute requests?

I have never charged a client more for last-minute requests. Moreover, I have never refused to do a task only as a way to discipline them.

My clients know that I will do the task if I can. And I do my best to accommodate URGENT requests. They also know there’s a chance I won’t be able to do it.

For me, this is a more realistic way to handle URGENT client requests.

Be open and honest in your communications with clients. Don’t punish them by charging more. Don’t try to force them to change their behaviour. If you can’t complete a last-minute request, then tell your client that you can’t at this time. Tell them, “perhaps another time”.

However, don’t do this work if you’re going to sacrifice something else that is important to you (e.g. a higher priority task, an evening or weekend with your family, a walk in the forest).

In your relationships with clients focus on what you have complete control over. And that is to be as open and as honest as you can be. You will create a strong foundation and a working relationship that could last years.

You’ll also be less stressed because you won’t be trying to change something that is beyond your control.