Last week, I had several conversations with a number of solo professionals about how to run their businesses more efficiently. That’s a common topic, since all of us are looking for more time in our already crammed days.
Each of them has been in business for at least five years (one person for 20!), so they’re not newbies. Even so, I was surprised to learn that not one of them had a new client onboarding process.
Don’t get me wrong – they have contracts in place, they get paid regularly, and they are running successful businesses. Still, they had no “official” approach to new clients – no formalized series of actions and information given when work is begun.
As you’ve probably guessed, I think that’s a big missed opportunity. “Onboarding,” as it’s called, sets the tone with new clients, some of whom will be around (hopefully) for years to come.
Here a peek at how I onboard my new clients:
- I send a welcome email. Mine is filled with information about when I’m at my desk, how to get in touch with me, how to get on my calendar for meetings, and more. It’s sort of a RocketGirl User’s Manual.It also serves as a warm welcome, letting my new client know how much I’m looking forward to working with them. I send the email immediately – demonstrating that I’m ready to go.
- I add their name, physical address and email address to my contact management system. I also tag them as a client in that system. That way, when I want to send an email to all of all my clients, I can do so with just a few mouse clicks.
- Insert them into my key processes. I create a DropBox folder; I add them to Toggl (my time tracking software); I create a project in Teamwork (for tracking my work with them); I add them to my revenue-tracking spreadsheet.
- I get connected to them. I send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn; I add them to my newsletter subscription list; I send a welcome gift to their office. If we were introduced by a mutual friend/client/colleague (as is nearly always the case) I also make sure to send a referral gift right away to that person.
Four steps, easy-peasey. Are these the four steps that everyone should follow? No, those are the right ones for me, my clients, and my business. Yours will undoubtedly be different.
But whatever you decide to do, you need to write the steps down and make them a standard, repeatable part of your work. It will save you time, improve communications and, if my experience is any indication, delight your clients!