Beginning a new business relationship is a critical time for both you and your clients. But how does one do that all effectively?
Our very own Mavericks Coach Christina Hawkins (AKA the queen of processes, AKA THE HAWKINATOR) has the answers.
Christina has been in the digital marketing space for 23 years. Her company offers websites and care plans, mostly for oil, gas and construction companies. Read more to find out tips and tricks on how she manages new clients.
On-boarding New Clients
The first step to any successful project is establishing a clear scope. You need this in order for you and your team members, clients or anyone working on the task at hand know what needs doing, so they can work efficiently together without getting confused along the way!
They discuss things internally and go through the process using visual aids like screenshots and spreadsheets outlining:
- Who the client is
- The scope of the project
- What is required from the client to commence the project.
This also helps set expectations with those involved which will keep everyone happy throughout their time spent completing these tasks.
You can get started by having an introductory meeting, email or phone call, to explore the goals of each party and outline fees before reviewing contract terms so there are no surprises later on down the line!
The Mechanics of On-boarding New Clients
It's crucial to document your on-boarding process in order to properly establish expectations and gather data. Depending on the type of agency, you want to collect as much information as possible upfront. Later down the track you can refer back to that information, moving forward without having gaps in your data and a constant back and forth with your client. Christina has been able to streamline the entire process by using automations and checklists. She uses programmes like Process Street and Teamwork.
Process Street allows her to gather all the relevant information at the beginning, and then it populates down the process. It saves time and means that you don’t double handle information or worse, lose it altogether.
Teamwork allows her to communicate and share information with her team members so that they can simply log in to the space, see their own task list inside of it. It's kind-of like a project dashboard; there are all the relevant links as well emails, required data for this particular instance at hand which helps streamline communication between co worker or clients when one person has been assigned several tasks simultaneously instead just having them pile up on top another individual’s finished job without any warning whatsoever!
Delivery Checklists are a great way to ensure that nothing is missed. This could include;
- The top 10 things that the company has to make happen for clients to have a good experience
- What does communication look like? If you're building websites, what check list of things need to happen in order for you to deliver high quality work? A good way to think of it is if you were starting a new agency, or you're trying to figure out a way to start a process – work backwards.
- What are the things I need to develop processes for and that need to happen for the client to love me and think that I'm the bees knees?
- What is the endgame? Think about the outcome.
When you develop this list, it creates a process driven strategy to frame your deliverables around.
Walking someone through a slide deck, showing them exactly how you work and what they can expect; lets them know they are in good hands. It also gives an understanding of your company’s capabilities by implementing processes which shows professionalism from start to finish and can create a strong long-term relationship.
Care Plans Are Always Discussed
Speaking of good long-term relationships. When Christina is on-boarding new clients she discusses that expectation of a care plan. A care plan is basically a set of bundles services that are used to keep a product or service (like a website) operating in tip-top shape. These services include security, performance, backups, monitoring and more.
They help boost recurring revenue by creating long-lasting relationships with your clients through services that keep them coming back.
Recurring revenue is the soul of your business’ profit!
Establishing Policies Is an Important Consideration in Minimising Risk
It's also important to establish policies in order to minimise risk. Christina's agency has a policy which specifies that if the team hasn't heard from their client in 10 business days then that project gets archived. If a client needs to reassess their timeline moving forward that is totally fine, but there needs to be an open line of communication so that you're not wasting your time constantly sending updates and new information if they're going to disappear on you.
She also has a no refund policy. If a client decides they’d like to hold off and come back in a year that's more than ok and completely up to them, however they won't be getting their money back. This policy and the set fee is discussed during on-boarding so there are no surprises for anyone.
What Happens in a Project if Someone Throws a Spanner in the Works?
So, what happens if someone turns up three weeks into a project and suddenly, they're expecting something that wasn't in your initial scope? How do you handle that conversation?
The first thing that needs to happen in this instance is a phone call to remind the client of what was agreed upon during the proposal and on-boarding stages.
A tool that Christina's company has started to use is flagging things in documents and identifying them as ‘outside of the scope’. In this way the team is able to start collecting points that need to be addressed in a subsequent meeting. The discussion then becomes ‘hey these are five things that are not what we agreed upon or within the framework that we've established – let's come up with the solution.’
The other side of it is to make sure that during your initial stages you develop a process for establishing what is specifically out of the scope right from the start, so that later down the track if you need to re-establish what the expectations are you can refer back to this and work with your client to find a solution.
By setting the tone and expectations early on, you can help to foster really positive client relationships. They’ll know what to expect from you, and you’ll be able to better manage their expectations as well. Having a documented on-boarding process is key to making sure that everyone is on the same page and that your project runs smoothly.
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The Agency Hour Podcast
Check out the episode of The Agency Hour related to this blog.
Listen to the full podcast episode related to this blog on managing client expectations!