Why You Need A Client Onboarding Process

Many of my clients are actively growing their businesses. As they bring on more clients, employees and team members, though, they find their workflow becomes more complex.

On a discovery call with a potential client the other day, I heard a common complaint: “It takes a lot of time to get new clients up to speed on how things work with my business. There’s sometimes a lot of back and forth before work actually starts getting done. I need to squeeze more productive time in up front and get projects off the ground, faster.”

As an OBM (Online Business Manager), I help business owners stop these problems in their tracks by creating and implementing onboarding processes that work for them, covering everything from when deposits and initial invoices should be paid, documents to be read and signed, and calls to be scheduled.

An onboarding process is critical to have – without one, you’re flying blind every time you bring on a new client. Write it down and you’ll have a template for success. All you have to do is follow it.

Here are 4 reasons you need a seamless on-boarding process:

1. You appear more professional and your client feels appropriately welcomed

Think about the services you use and the stores you visit. What keeps you coming back and looking forward to spending your time and money here instead of with their competitors? I bet the staff make you feel like a valued customer, and that you’re worth their time. You’re warmly greeted and treated like their only customer. You’re never left wondering what you’re supposed to do next or where you should go. You feel they really care about your experience.

A good onboarding process does the same for your clients. When people know what they can expect from you, what they should do next and how they’ll be treated, you build a solid foundation for a trusting relationship and open dialogue. You feel more confident, and therefore conduct yourself in a more professional manner. And your client feels welcomed and ready to get down to work!

2. You and your client know how the process will unfold, and you have everything you need

No matter the type of client you bring on, you know you’ll need specific information and documentation from each new customer you welcome. Why not take inventory of what you require and use that to form the basis for your onboarding process? For example, your process, and the documents you need might include:

  • Introductory or Discovery Call 
    You and your prospective client talk about their business, the projects they’re working on, their pain points, their timelines, and how you can help them.

  • Send a Proposal 
    Using what you discovered in your call, you craft a proposal that addresses your client’s pain points and needs, details how you’ll solve them, stipulates the cost and timeline to do so, and other important details. Mention how you’ll proceed if your proposal is accepted (part of expectation setting!).

    Pro Tip: Set yourself a reminder to follow up if you don’t hear from your prospect within 2-3 days.

  • Create a Contract, or Statement of Work 
    Congratulations – your prospect has accepted your proposal and is officially a client! You send them a contract or statement of work that you both sign. Ensure you both keep a signed copy.

  • Write and send a Welcome Email 
    This piece officially welcomes your client and can state your work schedule. Attach copies of any relevant documents and a link to schedule your kick-off call. Be sure to only ask your client to complete one or two actions in the welcome email as it’s easy for them to become distracted or confused if you give them too much to do. If other things need to be done break it up into stages and simply note the next steps so they know what to expect.

    Pro Tip: Draft this email once as a template and just fill in the blanks as needed.

  • Send an Invoice for Initial Deposit
    Include instructions on how your client should pay. Always get a deposit before you start work.

  • Have your Kickoff Call
    This is when the real work begins! On this call, you’ll talk more in-depth about your client’s projects, gather any other information you’ll need to start work and wrap up any outstanding preliminary discussions.

3. Your business becomes more productive, effective and efficient

Having an onboarding process involves doing a little work upfront to avoid wasting time later. Once you build your process, you’ll see your productivity skyrocket, which will make you a more effective and efficient VA since you won’t be creating or searching for the same documents and information every time you bring a client on. You’ll also minimize mistakes, confusion and misunderstandings.

4. You can customize your process based on your business model and client’s requirement

Similar to your collections process, you can customize your onboarding process to fit your business model (project or retainer-based), and work with your client to meet their needs. The best part is that an onboarding process is a fluid document – you can re-jig and improve it as required.

Need help creating an onboarding process to make bringing on new clients a breeze?

Let’s talk!

Related: 3 Reasons Why Processes Change Everything

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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