Recently, I had to let an assistant go from the BlushPretty team. She was a great person and very personable, but there were a few things that didn’t mesh with the BlushPretty team brand. Emails were sent. Words were said. I wish her a bright future in makeup artistry.

This person had four bookings with our team before I let her go. Of the four, she arrived at two of them late. She did text me beforehand. She did have reasonable explanations. And also, lucky for the BlushPretty brand, there were other artist(s) booked for the same job(s) who did arrive on time so her lateness would not be an issue (or at least a major one).

When I mentioned this to her as one of the reasons in her email, she quickly responded with the following rebuttals about being late:

– out of the four bookings, she was late for only two;
– she contacted me in advance once she knew she was going to be late; and
– for the second time she was late, she was barely ten minutes late.

I agree. She did let me know that she was running late slightly before the call times  -that’s fine and I’m all for emergencies (the first was for her ill dog, the second was late due to traffic). But two out of four bookings is 50% of being late and she was still very well under her “probationary period” with our team. But poe-tay-toes / pah-tah-toes – isn’t late just being late when it comes to running a freelance life?

How could I ensure that she wouldn’t be late again, or that she would be late on a job where she was the sole artist for the booking? Given the clientele that we work with – brides on a schedule – timing is everything. Don’t you agree? They won’t understand about an ill dog. They won’t understand that you were coming from faraway – you should have allowed for extra time. While she brought up valid points … late is still late.

If you are a freelancer trying to pave your way through the scene, here are a few things to consider when managing bookings, travel time, and everything in between.

Don’t trust the estimated time on Google Maps. If Google Maps tells you its 40 minutes from point A to B, then leave your home 60 minutes prior. Google Maps won’t allow for rain, detours, construction, pedestrians, and your sometimes inability to actually follow any of the directions (my left or Google’s left?!).

Don’t allow “just enough time” in between multiple bookings. Figure out the time distance between to two bookings, and then factor in 30 minutes extra to accommodate any extra needs of your first client and another 30 – 45 minutes for unexpected travel delays (long elevator waits, the parking garage won’t accept your credit card). If timing does end up going smoothly, well, then you have an hour or so to breathe, eat, and recollect yourself for your next client.

Tell each of your clients what your day is looking like. Tell the first person that books you that you have another client at so and so time. Tell your second/third or fourth client of the day that you are booked just before them but will travel over immediately after. Be accessible via email and phone to let them know your ETA. Be honest that there is a chance you may be late getting to him/her. Keep everyone informed and let them know that you are going to do your best aand your hardest to meet all call times.

If you’re late (because it does happen), just apologize and don’t go into heavy, over-compensated explanations. You are already late and they know it. A simple, “I didn’t allot for midday weekend traffic, I am so sorry”; “My alarm didn’t go off and I didn’t have a back-up alarm, I am so sorry”; or “I didn’t manage my time right between clients, I am so sorry” will do. Constant apologies will remind them of one thing: you were late. And they are running late. Do your best to complete the client at the agreed upon end time and hope that they understand and will consider recommending you or booking you again. If they don’t, well, at least you were apologetic and did your best. It doesn’t hurt to give them some monetary relief of their service either since it was your fault you were late. Remember – turn the tables – if you had a vendor show up late or not meet the agreed upon requirements, wouldn’t you ask for some sort of compensation?

And here’s the biggest wisdom of truth: if you can’t be somewhere on time, or close to a reasonable time, do not book it. Tell the client you can’t. Booking multiple clients in one day is definitely a great way to increase your freelance earnings BUT if you are in any way late that can cause a major disruption to anyone’s “big day” … you pay with your reputation. Your reputation is worth more than what you are paid for the service in the long run.

So, really, isn’t late just late?! Let’s discuss!