As a creative entrepreneur, do you find yourself anxious when it comes to onboarding a new client? Do you dream of what it could look like to have stress-free projects and the confidence to get your client where they want to go faster than they can on their own? Well friend, I promise that you can walk into every client project confident and prepared if you leverage a very seamless client onboarding process. And today, I’m going to share with you just how that could look and feel for you, your clients and your business.
I get it. You work so hard and spend so much energy to position yourself in a way that speaks directly to your ideal client. Yet, you find yourself in a constant scramble of to-do’s after booking. Maybe you have ran into a non-responsive client or are asked to provide unrealistic deliverables. And now, you wonder what it would look like if instead you could walk into every project with a process to introduce who you are, what you do and what it’s like to work together.
Today I’m going to walk you through five simple steps to leverage the onboarding process for all your new projects and to create a seamless, engaging experience that eliminates stress and builds confidence.
SET EXPECTATIONS UP FRONT
My #1 step I encourage you to take is to always make your expectations clear of what it would be like to work with you. When you outline to your clients what it’s like to work together you are proactive in answering some of their biggest questions up front and eliminate confusion.
Often nine out of 10 times, I see frustrations when a client goes into a project and you, as the creative, expect a completely different outcome. This will cause one of you to be disappointed right? So nip that in the bud first by setting all expectations upfront.
For example, when I work with my branding or mentoring clients, we sit down and identify the deliverables they can expect at the end of our time together. I outline the different strategy pieces they will receive so they have a better understanding of what to expect when it’s all said and done. And we set goals to achieve during our time of working together. It helps my clients realign their expectations as needed so they know what’s to come and what they can look forward to.
This second step really goes hand-in-hand with setting expectations up front, but I want to make sure I stress the importance of over communication. It can feel tedious and repetitive to constantly remind your client about the different steps of the process, what you need from them or the next step in the journey. But I promise, your clients will appreciate you being so incredibly vocal and proactively educating them with all the details that go into the work you do.
It’s simply not enough to book your dreamy ideal client, send them your welcome guide and begin your project together. You have to take it one step further and guide them through the process. Something simple I like to do is send over an email and say, “Hey, next week this is what you can expect from me and this is what I’ll need from you to move forward! Let me know if you have any questions!” This keeps those lines of communication open and alleviates any confusion.
You may worry over communicating causes stress or annoyance to your clients, but it actually helps them have a clear handle on what’s up next.
STREAMLINE YOUR PROCESS
Streamline. Steamline. Streamline. What I mean by this is don’t ask your clients to be in eight different apps to complete a project for you. Don’t have them sign and pay via Honeybook, then have them in Asana for project management and then head on over to Slack to communicate back and forth. This is overwhelming and will frustrate and confuse your client which in turn can cause breakdown in the communication and even delays in the projects.
If you want your clients to walk through the process using the tools you feel work best, you have to make it as easy as possible for them. To the best of your ability, streamline everything. Personally, I use Honeybook as the #1 tool in my business because it helps me handle the nitty gritty tasks like invoicing, client agreements and payment plans. But on top of that, I’m also able to handle all of my communication in Honeybook itself. I can send proofs, communicate to clients and utilize automated workflows to keep me on track for the different projects I have going on.
If you streamline your process, you now have created a system that benefits both you and your client to stay on task and complete your project on time.
POSITION YOURSELF AS THE EXPERT
When you walk your client through a streamlined and intentional process, it’s important you do so with confidence and in a dependable, trustworthy way. You want to set yourself as the guide who is helping your client navigate this exciting, but sometimes scary journey.
Often times, I have this conversation with my mentoring clients and I find they are timid to walk their clients through this onboarding process. They feel uncomfortable to set expectations and (with grace, of course) lay down the law on how things are going to look and work.
But honestly, your clients are coming to you because they need your expertise and guidance along the way. By not positioning yourself as an expert and not standing strong by saying, these are the steps we need to follow to get you where you want to go, then you unintentionally are doing them a disservice. It’s important to guide them through this process with confidence so you can establish a deeper sense of trust with you, but also so they can trust your process more.
BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO
To allow your client to trust your process and look at you as an expert, you must believe in your own process first. Trust yourself and your intuition as a creative to guide your client through this process. Remember, your clients have a mix of emotions, from excitement to fear of never working with you. If you can go into your project together with confidence, you now give them a sense of peace and confidence they have made the right decision to work with you.
If you are a creative who is ready to create a stress-free client experience process then I’d love to chat with you! I love partnering 1:1 with creatives just like you through my mentoring approach and it would be an honor to walk alongside you to elevate your client experience and grow your business in this way.
I’m currently accepting mentoring clients for late summer and early fall dates. Click here to schedule your complimentary consult call and be on your way to becoming the expert your clients deserve!
Designer Strategy Chats
Hey designers, if you want to dive into this topic more, I’m hosting a Designer Strategy Chats on June 28 at 11am CST where we will dive into how to set your client projects up for success. I know we’ve all wrestled with unresponsive clients, missing website content, and requests for deliverables that fall outside your project scope. I’ve learned that almost every challenging situation with a project that doesn’t go smoothly can be boiled down to one thing — how you set that project up for success from the start!
Designer Strategy Chats is a bi-monthly series of pitch-free trainings for brand designers and strategists just like you and me. Here, you can expect actionable education, live Q&A, and heartfelt encouragement to grow your design business. Join me, won’t you?