You popped the question. They said yes. Now you’re in a brand new relationship. What’s next? I’m giving you my 5 tips for onboarding a new client in a way that is both easy and super professional.
You’ve responded to that job posting like a pro and interviewed the client like the expert and CEO badass you are. Now you’re staring down the barrel of actually onboarding them into your business and getting into the details of making their lives easier.
And as someone who swoons over a good system and an even better workflow, the onboarding experience is one of the first things I focused on in my business. I wanted to give clients a taste of what it looked like to work with me from the moment they said, “let’s do this.”
So below I’m sharing with you my simple, foolproof tips for a workflow that will blow your clients’ minds and give you so much time back in your day.
#1 Have all your legal ducks in a row
I’m pretty sure that I operated my business for the first year with a contract that I found on Google 😳. This is a big no-no. My lawyer and biz friends would cringe if they knew I’d left myself unprotected like that. A contract protects not just you but the client as well. Any client who doesn’t want to sign a contract is a huge red flag.
Make sure that the way your client signs or agrees to the contract terms is legal and binding according to where you live. If you choose to use an online document signing service, make sure they collect timestamp and IP data that verifies that they signed the contract. This protects you from claims of fraud (i.e., that you signed the contract on their behalf).
PURCHASE YOUR CONTRACTS FROM A REPUTABLE SOURCE! Seriously, y’all. I cannot say this often or loudly enough. Do not be me and use a fucking borrowed contract from Google because odds are it will not hold up in a court of law. I purchase all my contracts and legal documents from Sarah over at Destination Legal and I highly recommend her templates!
#2 Automate as much as humanly possible
I cannot talk enough about Dubsado. It is the best system, by far, I’ve ever used for screening potential clients and interviewing new ones. I will eventually write many, many posts about this amazing tool, but for now, I’ll just say this: get it.
You can try their platform totally free for your first three clients. (This is one of my favorite features because you can use the full functionality of their platform for your first three clients. Totally FREE!) It’s inexpensive at $250 a year or $25 a month, and you can click this link and get 20% off your first month or year.
Dubsado allows me to automate my entire onboarding process from start to finish.
When a client books a call, I ask them to fill out a form in Dubsado that inputs all their pertinent details should they become a client later. Once they say, “sign me up!” I add a contract and invoice to their workflow for the agreed-upon amount and Dubsado does the rest. Effortlessly.
No more drafting invoices in Excel Spreadsheets (true story) and sending it by email along with the contract that had to be downloaded, signed, scanned, and emailed back to me. Oy vey. It’s a wonder anyone worked with me in that first year.
#3 Be super clear about your policies
I like to be crystal clear about my policies right up front. That way no one is surprised when they run up against one of my firm boundaries. I touched on this when I talked about setting boundaries with clients too.
I currently send them an email with a PDF welcome packet that outlines my policies for holidays, vacation, project turnaround time, communication, time tracking, etc.
But I want to uplevel this process and start using my Membervault account for hosting this to encourage them to check out other awesome freebies, products, and services I might have. Plus it’s a place they can always view it without having to remember to save the email.
#4 Schedule an initial consultation
I know that you just finished a super awesome discovery call that left them dying to work with you, but odds are you did not ask them everything you need to know in that call. So make sure that you schedule an initial kick-off call with them.
I do this as part of my Dubsado workflow after I send my contract and welcome packet so that I can answer any questions they might have about either one, plus make sure to highlight important details like my refund policy.
My initial kick-off calls are 90 minutes, but you might not need that much time. I’d suggest starting at 90 minutes and adjusting it as you go if you’re finding you never go over an hour.
During these calls, I find out what all their pain points are and read between the lines to see what’s a pain point even if they don’t realize it. Then I lay out a detailed plan about what the next 30-90 days are going to look like and how I’m going to make their lives easier. You can obviously adjust this to suit your scope of work, but seriously, don’t skip this step!
You know how in a new relationship you wanna check in with your new boo quite often? This is like that. Frequent communication establishes trust and helps your client get used to your communication style. This is especially important if you require them to hang with you in Slack when they’re used to communicating via FB messenger.
For the first 30 days, I like to send daily updates on what I did that day and what’s on my to-do list for the following day. I’ve noticed that after about 30 days the client has settled into our working relationship.
Once they settle in they usually feel more comfortable reaching out to me throughout the day on their own to check a project’s status or follow up about something. When we get to that stage I let the conversation flow more naturally from that point on. But I do always make sure to reach out to them once a week with a summary. And if I don’t hear from them at all over the course of a day and I know they’re not on vacation, I like to check in.
With some solid systems (cough, Dubsado, cough) onboarding does NOT have to be a headache or something you dread. Because when you dread the to-do list of bringing someone into your business, odds are you aren’t going to do it very often.
So to make sure you’re onboarding new clients like a pro, remember to:
- Have all your legal ducks in a row
- Automate as much as humanly possible
- Be super clear about your policies
- Schedule an initial consultation
What are some of your favorite resources or processes for onboarding new clients into your business?