International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION


Client Relationships 

It is often said that people tend to hire service professionals that they know, like, and trust. Clients entrust us with their life stories, their precious photographs, and personal data on their entire family tree. Developing and maintaining a respectful, professional relationship – that is warm and friendly but not too close – is a key skill that should be considered of utmost importance.  



Difficult Discussions 

You may find yourself in difficult situations where you will have to deliver some sort of bad news to a client. If you find these situations difficult, stop and think about what it would feel like if you were in the client’s shoes. You will go a long way toward helping the client accept the situation if you approach them with possible solutions to the problem. 

Another situation might arise when you feel you must refuse a client’s request, perhaps because you believe it is unethical. Here are some suggestions for having a conversation with the client about this difficult subject: 

  • Try to keep from expressing judgment of the client. 
  • Time the conversation for as soon as you learn of the situation as possible.  
  • Steer the conversation away from blame or accusation.  

You may find, however, that a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, and you may have to withdraw from the project. 

Client Feedback 

Another prime opportunity to communicate with clients is when all the work is done (i.e., after you have completed the book, presented them with a family tree, or pulled the records they requested). Soliciting feedback and evaluation is something that many entrepreneurs neglect to do. When you have received evaluations or feedback, be sure to review them in detail. Make note of any positive comments for your Compliments File. Look for suggestions for improvement and follow through on them.  

In the course Business Skills: Business Administration  you will discover more about keeping your clients happy and growing your business. 


Client Management 

When you first started your genealogy business, you perhaps did a few projects for family members to get some experience and work out the details of your offerings and fees.  At some point, you began actively marketing to obtain new clients.  Depending on how long you have been in business, you probably now have had some experience with actual, paying clients.  



Client Correspondence 

Although researching, writing, editing can be done alone, much of the work a genealogist does involves communicating with clients on an ongoing basis. These communications include but are not limited to: 

  • making appointments 
  • discussing projects 
  • conducting interviews 
  • negotiating a change in the project scope  
  • asking for fee payments 
  • soliciting feedback 

Every interaction with a client can affect the business relationship.  A positive interaction can enhance the relationship and might even help to smooth over a difficulty or repair a problem.  A negative interaction can do all sorts of damage.  

Technology has brought us many new ways of communication.  Email, texting, and social media have become the go-to forms of connecting and exchanging information.  However, there are not without their drawbacks. First of all, not everyone uses all forms of communication equally well. 

In a way, an invoice is also a form of client communication, by which I mean communication between you and the client.  You are communicating with the client about what work has been completed and what fee is owed.  Take advantage of the fact that there can also be room on the invoice for a comment, such as “Thank you for this opportunity to be of service” or “Enjoy your family tree!” 

To succeed in business, part of your ongoing administration should focus on client management and client relations. With our Business Skills: Business Administration”  course you’ll find the tools needed to effectively work with clients.   

Project Proposals

 Client Proposals  

Many genealogy researchers charge for their services on an hourly basis.  This is simple to administer and easy for the client to understand.  However, some clients are uncomfortable with an open-ended expense.  One way to deal with this is to tell the client an upfront estimate of the number of hours expected for a given project.  As an alternative, some genealogists simple quote their clients a flat fee, which is fine as long as the anticipated work fits with the project quoted in the fee schedule.  


The proposal you present to the client does not have to state all the details of how you will accomplish the work.  Focus on what is important to the client – what they will get as an end product and what it will cost them.  If you do create proposals, review them periodically to see how effective they are.  Be honest with yourself.  

Review your past proposals to see what has worked best and identify what areas may need more work on your part.  One way to find out how accurate your time-based proposals are is to keep a log of the time you spend on each project.    

By taking our, Business Skills: Business Administration” course you will come away with the tools needed to create effective proposals for you, your clients, and your business as a whole.