There’s something I hate to admit because I know it scares the holy-heck out of bosses like you and they turn to run the other way while I’m blubbering, “but… but WAIT!”
Automating your systems won’t be easy or simple. (There, I said it!) There will be a learning curve. Puppies + rainbows are, in fact, sold separately.
Here’s something I DO like to admit, though :: I’m GLAD setting up your systems isn’t simple. The reality is that we are replacing YOU – no simple task, indeed! However, once it’s done, you have something in place designed to save time, money, energy, focus + probably grey hairs, too!
The rookie mistake I see bosses make (like, ALL the time!) is getting mega-starry-eyed about what OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING about a specific platform. They get turned on by the FEATURES LIST + the only thing sexier than that?… is the software’s uber-attractive FREE TRIAL period – meeee-ow!
Meanwhile… a lot of bosses don’t even need all of that tech a CRM delivers!
I am a firm believer that if you’re already using something that works for you, IT’S BEST TO CREATE A SYSTEM AROUND THE TECHNOLOGY YOU ALREADY KNOW + LOVE instead of trying to find something else.
Clearly, it already works for you! Let’s set it up to work harder, is all.
WANT SOME DONE-FOR-YOU ONBOARDING WORKFLOWS?
Let’s break down how you’ll onboard your new clients.
1. CREATE YOUR LEAD CAPTURE FORM
You will want to embed a form on your website or social media that people can fill in to sign up for your services. I recommend using Airtable for 2 reasons :: 1) it is a FREE service that will allow you to create forms that 2) integrates directly into your project management.
All of the fields you decide you want clients to complete can be drag-and-dropped into your form. Once somebody submits their form, that data will automatically populate in your table as a new record.
You can also set up what you want to have happen after your client hits the SUBMIT button. This could be as simple as a THANK YOU message, or you could redirect them to another URL that would include an intro kit/welcome package.
Personally? I like to include a booking link in my Welcome Package. This way, the client can book out first meeting while they’re still in the frame of mind that they want to work with me.
2. USE A BOOKING/SCHEDULING TOOL
If you’re not already using a tool that will allow people to have ACCESS TO YOUR AVAILABILITY + BOOK A TIME TO TALK with you (minus all the back-and-forth emailing you otherwise would have to go through), this is one of those “go to have” tools for anyone dealing with clients.
For simplicity and budget-sake sake, I’ll tell you to sign up for Calendly, although other tools like Acuity Scheduling that great to use as well. You can easily SET PARAMETERS AROUND WHAT TIMES YOU WILL SEE CLIENTS. Calendly also CONNECTS TO YOUR GOOGLE CALENDAR to ensure that the engagements from the calendar don’t conflict with how availability is shown. It is EASY TO EMBED so that even the least-tech-savvy client will “get” how they can book their time with you.
This and most other software is also set up to automatically send email reminders of the appointment 24 hours prior to the appointment. Let’s hear it for one less thing for you to think of setting up!
3. CONNECT YOUR CONTRACT/INVOICING SOFTWARE
You actually have 3 options here ::
1) You can use INVOICING SOFTWARE (like FreshBooks, Wave or Xero) where you can integrate Terms and Conditions that clients will agree to.
NOTE :: If you decide to replace the text from the Terms and Conditions to reflect your contract and then have clients tick a box saying they agree to these, please do confirm with a legal professional that this agreement will still be legally binding if they check a box instead of signing a document; or
2) You can use CONTRACTING SOFTWARE (like andCo – which is also FREE but other paid products like DocuSign, HelloSign, etc. can provide more control + customization) where you can integrate your payments there; or
3) You can also roll out with PROPOSAL SOFTWARE (like BetterProposal or Proposify) which may be the best option to the bosses for whom esthetic is a big part of why people buy from them.
I personally prefer the last 2 options because not only is it a little more formal with the SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT, but it also ensures that YOUR CLIENT WILL ACTUALLY READ the damned thing. After all, you WANT clients to know, read and acknowledge what is expected of them during this project and you want them to know what you both are committing to! And let’s be honest… when was the last time YOU read the Terms and Conditions to the box you checked, hmmmm?
4. WRITE AND CAN YOUR CLIENT COMMUNICATION
You’re saying the same thing over + over again. That doesn’t mean you should be writing the same emails over and over again, especially when you can easily create canned emails. Canned emails are basically templates that are saved for easy use within your inbox. I encourage you to go through your Sent items from past clients and create email templates out of the things you always say in one way or another.
P.S. If and/or when you decide to outsource your inbox, this makes it insanely easy for a new hire to not only understand your process, but to also take care of this on your behalf (in your words!).
“WHAT ABOUT DUE DATES + REMINDERS?”
Good question! You CAN set up those reminders up to happen automatically within your Airtable account using two things :: the formula fields and the Calendar view.
Not to sound like your dad but just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to (ugh, daaaaaad!). While a platform may work for one person, that doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul THE WAY YOU LIKE TO OPERATE to sit with the cool kids.