Think of not having a client onboarding process like the time before the internet was invented. Unimaginable! The purpose of this process is to set the stage or really start on the right foot with any project.
Its very important that my client knows exactly what is going on with the project and that they are free to contact me in the easiest way possible.
These are just the steps that I take and are not set in stone as every project is unique.
01 | CLIENT INQUIRY
For any project to be born, there needs to be an inquiry. Most inquiries come through the ‘contact me’ page on my website. When a client inquires about my services, It’s after they have gone through my previous works, read a bit about me and some of my blogs but most importantly they have gone through my services page and are well informed.
Due to the fact that I love being transparent about my business, most of these inquiries tend to turn into clients because they know what I have to offer and the prices that go with it. Having my prices listed means that I save time going back and forth with leads that won’t turn into anything and as a freelance designer, time is of the essence.
02 | INITIAL SKYPE CALL/ GOOGLE HANGOUTS
Depending on the timezone of my potential client, I would send a link so that we can schedule a time to discuss the project and both our expectations. This is usually a 30-minute call where I basically go over the service package, outline my design process and help relieve any doubts the potential client might have.
This initial contact is critical because it helps both the client and myself see if we are going to be a good fit but more importantly if the project is within my range of expertise.
There are times when potential clients live in different time-zones which means we might have difficulties trying to get through this initial call. This is when I would send a video presentation where I explain in detail what their chosen package would include and all the other details exactly like when I’m on a one-to-one call. This doesn’t mean that we will never get to have our one-to-one session, it just means that we will have to find a compromise in order to get there. But an extra thing I do is to send an in-depth questionnaire to this particular potential client which will help me understand more about them, their business and their needs.
03 | PROPOSAL
After our consultation call, I would send a proposal of the project which would include all the information I obtained from our chat as well as details of all assets that will be included in the proposed package. There will also be a set of dates for when we can begin working on the project.
04 | CLIENT AGREEMENT + DEPOSIT INVOICE
If the proposal is accepted, a contract will be sent to be signed as well as an invoice for the down payment which will allow me to book their spot in the calendar.
I have different payment options depending on the package chosen. For clients opting for just a brand, there is an initial 50% deposit as down payment and another 50% due before I hand over the final files. For clients who take on both branding and website design, the payment is divided into three. A 40% deposit as down payment followed by 30% halfway through the project and the last 30% before the final files and website is handed over to the client.
05 | CLIENT HOMEWORK
When all the formalities and legal stuff are taken care of, I send the client their homework. This comes in the form of a questionnaire as well as a PDF that explains exactly what the client needs to do or have before the project begins and when it’s needed by.
This part of the process is still in the pre-project section meaning it gives my client enough time to collect all the assets needed in order to have a smooth workflow and meet our deadlines.
Depending on the package chosen, the assets would include things like copy for the website, images and any other resource that will be needed by me to create a unique brand or website.
06 | PROJECT SCHEDULE
Nearing the start of the project, I add the client to my project management tool called Asana. In this area, tasks will be assigned as well as due dates to keep everyone in check. It will aslo serve as the home base for the project where feedback, comments and revisions will be made and also be accessible for review. Having the project set up within Asana helps keep things organized and streamlined as opposed to going back and forth through emails that may get lost or never opened.
The project schedule is usually distributed within 2 to 5 weeks depending on the final proposed package.
07 | PERIODIC CHECK-INS
Inorder to make sure that we have the best experience together, I will do periodic check-ins before the project starts just to see the progress made by the client with regards to collecting the resources and if they need any help with the client homework I had provided earlier.
These check-ins help build our relationship and also put the client at ease by knowing that I'm easily reachable and available whenever they need me.
And that's it! That is my client onboarding process and it has helped not only save time but also land clients.
How do you onboard your clients? Is it something you're comfortable with or would you rather pretend that it didn't even exist?!
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