Top 5 Tips for Onboarding a New Client

You just landed a new client! Woohoo! When you’re done with your celebration dance (which is totally in order by the way), make sure you get a strong onboarding process set up if you don’t have one already.

Here are my five best tips for a successful onboarding process. (If you already have a process, test it against these tips and see where you could improve!)

1. Have a simple-to-deliver proposal

Don’t make this harder on yourself than it has to be. I have some opinions on packages and how I like to keep it simple for myself (which could be another blog by itself), but in a nutshell:

I create packages so I don’t have to create a new custom proposal for every client. It doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) take you three hours to prepare and send a proposal.

I use (and love) Dubsado for this! I am able to have package and proposal templates already created so all I have to do is quickly customize them and send them off to the client. I’m not starting from scratch each time and it saves so much time.

2. Make it easy for them to pay you

This may seem like a “duh, Jennifer” tip, but you would not believe how many businesses make it difficult for someone to pay them!

I remember a time I was at a hospital to pay a bill and I had to go to three different areas before I was able to pay it. I was like "I’m trying to give you hundreds of dollars…maybe make it a little easier?"

Asking for payment isn’t being pushy. You’ve already made the sale, the client has already signed the contract, just make it easy for them to pay you!

As with the proposal step, I use Dubsado for this. You can also use Paypal, 17hats, or other invoicing programs. They are pretty simple and make it super easy on your client.

3. Be clear on what the next steps are

These are not just the next steps for them, but also the next steps for you. As the designer and leader of the project, you need to steer the ship. Does your client need to set up a shoot with their photographer? Do they need to provide the copy? Be clear with your client what their homework is and when they need to get it done.

And also let them know what your next steps are. Let them see what you are doing, even if you are simply waiting on them to get their homework done so you can get to work (as is common on the front-end of the project). They just spent a lot of money, so do them the courtesy of keeping them up-to-date and informed along the way.

You’ve most likely gone over a lot of the process on a call. I suggest putting it all in a bulleted list and email it as a follow-up so they have it written down and easy to access.

4. Stay in communication with them

If you’re like me, you may have clients scheduled out months in advance, and hopefully, you are collecting a deposit to hold that spot for them. But don’t just take the deposit and disappear until the start of the project. Even if it’s just an automated email, check-in with them and let them know you’re excited about their project.

If they have things like homework due, send them a reminder and give them a good amount of time to get it done. Don’t wait until a day or two before things are due to send them a reminder. You can set up automations to do this so that based on when their homework is due, a canned email will go out so many days before to remind them. Or if you have an assistant, this would be something they could help you with.

We schedule things like social media posts for our business, so schedule these communications with your clients. When it comes time for the project to start, you will do so with a much happier client. I promise!

5. Have a repeatable process to begin when onboarding is done

Lay out your process step by step. List each step as something you can check off and move on to the next. Creating a process like this will help everything run quicker and more efficiently.

I love Asana for this (and teach my students how to use it in my course, Design + Grow with Webflow). but you can even use a pen and paper. Just develop a repeatable process to take your client through. Asana is great because you can share the process with your client and they can see it all mapped out and know what is going on at any given point. There are a lot of different options now when it comes to project management programs, just find the one you like working with the best.

The better your process is outlined, the better you’re going to set your projects up for success.

Bonus Tip: Set up the process for your next client

A mentor of mine shared this idea with me and it’s a great one. Each time you go through this process for a new client, do it again for a future client. For example, when you go through this process and get it all set up for the client you just booked, duplicate it all, and name it Next Client or Next Month Client. That way it’s ready to go and all you have to do is change the name!

So as a wrap-up

  1. Have a simple-to-deliver proposal
  2. Make it easy for them to pay you
  3. Be clear on what the next steps are
  4. Stay in communication with them
  5. Have a repeatable process to begin when onboarding is done

Strong communication is key throughout the whole project, so set the stage for it from the start and you’ll be setting yourself and your client up for success!

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