So far we’ve only lost one proposal because we “are so far, in thailand…”. And frankly, we’re glad we did not win it, was not worth it at all. Even if we were in Montreal the mandate did not make any sense so their decision only confirmed our first impression.
Where am I getting at? Well, we are halfway around the world for 95% of our clients, and truth is, it doesn’t affect anything really. When we launched the company, one of our main worries was how to manage the distance, the 11-12 hours time difference. It turns out it is actually very easy and simple, and almost becomes something positive. Most importantly, it forces you (and the client) to be better organized.
Here a few things I can think of:
- You can still talk, just have to schedule those calls. ie: We do most of our conf call around 8-9 pm, so it’s 9-10 am on the East Coast. Those calls become very “to the point”, no need for 2-3 hours meetings anymore (plus transport). You prepare the call, you discuss the main points, you make decision. bing bang thank you!
- Instead of sending 5-10 emails per day for one project / one client, you send one, more detailed, and receive one, more detailed
- With tools like Basecamp, tasksfreaks, 16 bugs etc….even if you’re in the same city as your client, you still need to use them right? Communication is actually done through those tools and emails.
- In my previous life, in Montreal or Toronto, I probably used the phone 5% of my time for all communications. Everything is done with email, so distance becomes a non-issue
- We are almost one working day ahead, so we work the equivalent of Sunday evening and night, meaning on Monday morning our clients usually receive (yes, we try…) an email with a to-do list/replies to problems/bills, etc…in other words “action items” so they start their week with a feeling of things are happening
- We work during the night (the equivalent, we actually work like everybody else, during the day), and it can be really useful at time ie: to correct bugs or do last minute things. For example, Client A leaves the office at 7pm in Montreal, sending us a list of tasks. We arrive at work here around 8pm (still Montreal time), so next morning in Montreal client A will have received his tasks completed and everybody is happy. Client A literally saves a day of work
- Finally, face time is very important. But do not over-estimate it. I remember again in Toronto, I probably saw my clients 2-3 times A YEAR. It is no different now. We go back 2-3 a year to Montreal and see everybody.
We are now working more and more with Europe so it changes things a bit, but you simply adapt. It’s a global world, the fact you have clients all over the world no matter where you are should be seen as a positive no? Anybody has similar experiences to share?