When you bring on a new client, it’s essential that you make a good first impression. They already know they want to work with you (after all, they did sign on with you), but those first days and weeks of getting the work done will help you solidify a great working relationship.
That’s why your onboarding workflow is so important. The last thing you want to do is look flaky and unorganized as you first start working together. Emails back and forth requesting information and an unclear communication system leaves the new client frustrated and scrambling to keep up with you. And it takes up valuable time–for both you and the client.Stop looking flaky and unorganized. Use an onboarding workflow for all new clients. Click To Tweet
Instead, create a workflow that answers questions, gathers information and sets up expectations for both you and your new clients.
Onboarding looks different in every business, depending on what type of business it is and what kind of information you need to gather at the start of your client relationship. But knowing what you need, and in what order, is essential as you move forward.
Here’s a sample of what that onboarding process might look like:
Testing the Waters
- Have an initial conversation with the client, asking any pertinent questions that you’ll need to know should the client sign on with you. It helps to have them fill out a questionnaire before your call and to have a list of questions ready when you do chat.
- Know in advance how long this initial conversation will be. Some businesses only allot 20 minutes; I book 45 minutes. And I know that if the call goes beyond 45 minutes, the person I’m talking to likely isn’t going to move forward.
When the Client Signs
- Once the client signs on and pays your required deposit, send an in-depth questionnaire that addresses any outstanding questions you might have. Some business owners see this as the beginning of the onboarding process.
- Know exactly what it is you need to know from the new client. If you’re a bookkeeper or accountant, you’ll need login information for their accounts and systems so you can dive into the work right away. If your business is on the creative end, there’s other information you’ll need to collect as you begin working.
- Take the time to test out these log-ins and check off your to-do list before any other communication with the new client. No matter what type of business you’re in, always check through initial information before moving forward. There could be something that’s contradictory that you’ll need to address.
Full-On Work Mode
- Send the client a checklist of additional information you need or steps he needs to take.
- Schedule follow-ups in your task management system or client management system so the client receives reminders–without you having to earmark the follow-ups in your own calendar.
My own onboarding workflow looks a little different than this, since I take care of all questions in my first initial call. But the point is, I have a system that I follow and it’s saved me hours and hours of time when working with clients. And they’re happier too, because I’m saving them time and able to dive into their work right away.
The more streamlined your client workflows (and onboarding), the more likely they are to stick around. That means more money in your pocket and better referrals moving forward.