Lots of clients say my onboarding process is easy-peasy and super straightforward. They want to do the same thing for their businesses instead of 55 emails containing estimates, contracts, and questionnaires—and a big giant dose of back-and-forth. So today, I’m pulling back the curtain! Want a client intake process like mine? Here’s how:
You’ll notice my intake process relies on FreshBooks. I’m sure you could do this through another online estimating and invoicing program—but I’ve been using FreshBooks since 2008 and freaking love them.
Step 1: Create estimate
The first thing I do when I get off the phone with a prospective client is send an estimate via FreshBooks. Since I have my packages pretty well established, I have frequently-used items saved as templates. I open FreshBooks, tailor the estimate a bit, and then…Not so fast! Here’s where the streamlining comes in…
Step 2: Set up a customized email
In FreshBooks, I have this custom email that I refer to as my getting started checklist. It’s basically 4 steps—and it lays out everything a client needs to do to get started. It’s all right here, with a link to their estimate. And it’s totally branded (because FreshBooks lets you do that too). The email message says:
Hey (first name) - great chatting with you today!
Here's how we can get started together:
1. Review + accept this estimate (and I’ll send you an invoice for the first installment of the project fee):
2. Pay the first installment.
3. Sign and return these Basic Terms + Conditions showing you how we'll work together:
In the meantime (first name), here's my questionnaire which will get you much clearer and help us maximize our time together during our Kick-Off/Strategy session:
Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to working together!
Step 3: Include link to contract in the email
Every client gets same contract. Mine is set up through Adobe EchoSign (which is free because I’m a Creative Cloud subscriber). It enables clients to sign online. I simply uploaded a PDF of my contract and told EchoSign where the signatures go. Then, I was able to generate a widget to add to my Terms & Conditions page on my website.
Update: In August of 2016, I moved away from EchoSign/Adobe Document Cloud as they would no longer allow me to edit the signing widget on my site without upgrading to a paid plan at $50/month. No thank you, Adobe. I already pay you $50/month for my Creative Cloud subscription. Now I’m using HelloSign which is only $13/month and is quite snazzy. It doesn’t have the ability to add a signing widget to my Terms & Conditions page, so I just added a link to the contract instead.
This whole client intake process is a breeze to set up. It saves you time—and it’s clear and direct for clients. I do my part, they do theirs. Then, we can schedule our kickoff call and start the fun part.