Wahoo! That first (or next) client is firmly in the books!

Pop the bubbly!

Ok, so you’ve just finished convincing this person to hand over their precious business & potentially thousands of dollars to have you take that massive to-do of building a site off their list.

Prob goes without saying…but it’s v important you seem like you actually know what the heck you’re doing from here on out, give that person the royal treatment and ensure the project is completed without a hitch.

Want to know the surest way make your clients feel like they made the right choice in hiring you?

(And that there is absolutely no danger of them becoming a cautionary tale for someone else, anytime soon?)

Let them know they are in uber-capable hands by totally taking the lead and kicking off their client journey with MAD confidence!

How?

By wowing them with your super-sexy onboarding and off-boarding process, of course!

If you’ve been following along with our series “Web designers speak out: What I wish I knew about… you’ll know that we have been busy chatting about some pretty important topics when it comes to running a legit successful design biz.

Welp, our talented featured designers are back at it again and in post # in the series, they’re bringing you allll the onboarding and off-boarding wisdom you didn’t know that you didn’t know!

Pssst! Wishing someone would take your hand and show you the way?

My Square Secrets Business course (the one that teaches you how to turn your Squarespace skills into a killer design business that actually supports a life you love) was created just for you!

I’m basically handing you a customizable web design business in a box, including all the templates & step-by-step processes you need from start > finish when designing for clients!

Web designers speak out:

What I wish I knew about onboarding & off-boarding clients

Dubsado has been a massive time saver with onboarding and off-boarding clients!

Being able to set up automated workflows allows me to create a consistently amazing process for my clients, plus a lot of the process is able to be automated.

It does take some time to set up a CRM (customer relationship management tool) though.

You need to get clear on your process and really map out every touchpoint in your process so you can add it into your CRM.

But it gives you the opportunity to look for extra opportunities to really wow your clients along the way and showcase how professional you are.”


– Jessica Haines, Jessica Haines Design

Website | Instagram


“Explain the process.

Even the things that seem simple TO YOU, aren’t always second nature to your client.

Things such as when you’re send the invoice, when the invoice is due, what the first step of the project is, how you’ll contact them, how often you’ll need their input (roughly), etc.

Providing these details and expectations not only makes your client feel supported by you and confident, but it also sets them up to be better clients because they know your expectations and how things will work.

Remember, you may have done “it” once, twice, or a dozen times – but this is their first experience with your service – they have no clue what to do unless you tell them.”


– Corinne Pettit, Heart & Hustle Studio

Website | Instagram




“When you’re onboarding a new client it feels like you should give them every piece of information they could possibly need, but it’s actually really easy to overwhelm them and then run the risk of them not actually reading any of it.

My onboarding is broken down into a few different pieces that get sent at different times.

I make sure I emphasize the important parts, like homework that needs to be completed, and also make available the things that they might need or be interested in.

I also have had such terrible luck trying to get clients to use my project management system.

To me, a part of my job is to make the process easier for them rather than asking them to use a whole new system.

I also send a small gift at the beginning and end of our projects to try and make sure that they feel extra special and that it’s a treat to work with me.”


– Lindsey Anderson, Six Leaf Design

Website | Instagram


“Oh my gosh! I wish I knew about Dubsado from DAY 1!

This CRM has made my life SO much easier! All my onboarding and off-boarding emails are on there and it’s super easy to set up the correct workflows for each given project.

As for handing over Squarespace sites to clients, I send the invitation to be an admin on the site, followed by a Loom video that walks them through exactly how to select a hosting plan and make their site public!!

To ensure my clients are able to manage their own site, I include Loom tutorials for Squarespace basics such as adding photos, text, pages, links and layout.


– Malena Southworth, Southworth Design Co.

Website | Instagram



“Onboarding counts towards your time!

In other words, when you’re pricing your services, don’t forget to account for how much time is required to onboard or off-board a client.

Factor that in!

I personally create lots of canned responses, have PDFs that go over important details, and have a contract that I can just tweak as needed to save time.”


– Kali Edwards, June Mango Design

Website | Instagram


“I’ve found that offering an included support window after site launch alleviates a lot of client fears.

For my full website design clients, I offer two weeks of email support after launch.

I’ll create additional help videos, make any tweaks, or answer any questions they have as part of their web design package.

Clients are more willing to launch when they know there is a safety net.”


– Christy Price, Christy Price

Website | Instagram


“Hellllo Dubsado.

I run my business off Dubsado + coffee (but mostly Dubsado).

I send proposals, contracts, invoices, questionnaires, and more with this incredible platform.

I can’t tell you how many times a client chose me over my “competition” (competition is in quotes because I don’t actually believe in competitors) based solely on the professional proposals I created.

Oh, and did I mention I completely automated my workflow?

I literally book $5,000+ clients IN MY SLEEP.


– Erin Neumann, Be Aligned Web Design

Website


“First impressions matter and they can make or break the deal.

I’ve been told numerous times that someone booked with me because my initial proposal was so impressive.

Yes, the entire process is important, but your onboarding is what seals the deal.

I use Dubsado to automate everything from the initial contact form and consult booking to the proposal, contract & invoicing.”


– Vanessa Bucceri, Vanessa Bucceri Creative

Website | Instagram


“Always leave them wanting more. Wink wink. Don’t sell yourself short.

Offer ongoing support for a monthly cost ($X.) This could be an additional revenue stream for you.”


– Kaitlin Hoppenstedt Ortgega, Studio Kait

Website | Instagram




“Systems, systems, systems. That’s it!

I LOVE Dubsado for my client onboarding and off-boarding because I never miss a step.

That’s the beauty of automation, it takes your mental space out of remembering things.

For every client I have about a 20+ step workflow. And I design websites in just one day. So I can be onboarding quite a few clients at the same time.

Imagine trying to remember where you’re at in each of those 20 steps for 4+ people?

Automation is the key to ensuring I don’t lose my mind, and it’s also the key to ensuring a really positive and easy experience for the client.

My number one recommendation for new designers would be to invest in your systems first so that you don’t end up hating your business!”


– Becca Wood, Alto Design Co

Website | Instagram



“I wish I had built more of a testimonial process into my off-boarding.

Rather than chasing down people months after we worked together and then finding that they’ve made some personal updates to their site that I don’t necessarily want to highlight on my portfolio.

One thing I’m happy I’ve done is building in a lot of support and education into the off-boarding process.

I think it really cuts down on the amount of questions I get down the road from past clients, and helps them feel empowered to maintain their own sites.”


– Melissa Stephenson, Five Design Co

Website | Instagram


“Always ALWAYS take a deposit, preferably a good chunk of your total quote.

I ask for 50% to secure a 2 Week Website project and the remaining 50% before we launch.

This is to ensure you’re always paid for the work you do, and discourages clients from ghosting you (it happens, sadly!).

Also never start a project without a clear, friendly and professional contract. Have those in place and you’re good to go!

Something I’ve recently added to my onboarding process is a Website Content Guide.

This came from having experiences where I asked my web design clients to provide their website content and they didn’t know what to give me, or it was too wordy and rambly, and not thought-through.

I realized they needed more support with what to give me, how to write it and in what format.

Since giving them their Website Content Guide in their welcome pack, they’ve been able to prepare and provide their content much quicker and it’s been in the format I need to add it to their website.

It’s been such a time saver!”


– Steph Bisson, Colour & Love

Website | Instagram


“A detailed website questionnaire is a must followed by a detailed call and every deliverable should have a detailed explanation.”


– Michanae Edwards, Michanae’s Designs

Website | Instagram


“Get your systems set up BEFORE you start getting inquiries!

I love HoneyBook (affiliate link for 50% off your first year!) to track projects (the pipeline tool shows me visually what stage each of my projects is in).

I use it to track all email correspondence with clients as well so communication doesn’t get lost in my inbox (but the client is able to stay in their own inbox rather than having to log into a separate program).

I don’t offer continuing support on websites without additional payment, but I do allow my clients 5 business days of unlimited refinements on web projects before the close of the project.

I record “how to” videos specific to each client’s site – it helps them be more confident in updating their website AND keeps little post-project questions out of my inbox!”


– Jen Davis, Hello June Creative

Website | Instagram


“Having templates for each stage of the process can save you so much time.

This way you know exactly what steps you need to take, and also have a document in place that you can just customize for each client.”


– Maru Ramirez, Studio Mer

Website | Instagram


“Woo, onboarding and off-boarding was not something I had in the beginning but let me tell you it changes EVERYTHING!

I started to view my packages and working with clients as an experience for not just them but for me as well.

Having a system in place that welcomes clients makes it that much more enjoyable to work together.

I look forward to the official welcome and onboard process, and the same with the off boarding.

It’s a closing with a client that leaves them, and yourself, with a feeling of accomplishment.”


– Hannah Phillips, Dear Brunch Design

Website | Instagram


“This golden nugget is something I often share with new designers when they get in touch.

The best way to keep control of the project and make sure clients pay on time is to create a new site in Squarespace and add your client in as a contributor.

When they’ve paid their final invoice, I just hand over the ownership of the site to the client. It’s a simple and painless experience for all involved!”


– Eleanor Stones, Eleanor Stones

Website | Instagram


“I love Dubsado for onboarding clients.

They have a client portal option that allows my clients to see all of their project documents, invoices, proposals, and questionnaires all in one place.

The automation features also save me so much time.”


– Jackie Elefante, Jaks Digital

Website | Instagram


“Setting expectations and boundaries with clients is SO IMPORTANT!

After a few too many clients who email 10+ times a day, text after 5pm, etc. I finally added some education into the beginning of my client experience to set expectations for how we will communicate throughout the process.

Get a CRM as soon as you’re able to afford it!

Dubsado was one of my first business investments and I’m so thankful I just went for it. I think it’s worth it to pay for one program to help you with everything from contracts, invoicing, and proposals, to questionnaires and to-do lists.

Otherwise you’re using like 15+ free programs to try and get everything done, and that’s not organized or efficient.”


Mary Kiser, MK Design Studio

Website | Instagram


“Setting due dates for your clients is super helpful in keeping projects on track.

I wish someone would’ve told me I need to have a clause in my contract regarding extended periods of no communication because if a client takes 2 weeks to respond that completely screws up the entire project timeline.”


– Mackenzi Green, Kenzi Green Design

Website | Instagram


“Set a deadline for final payment, not just on completion, add ‘or by (date) which ever comes first’”.

If a client drags their heels for the launch and you are done with the design then you can get paid rather than waiting until the client is ready.”


– Jaime Lawson, by Jaime

Website | Instagram


“After TONS of research I decided to go with Dubsado as my CRM. I now do EVERYTHING through it!

I have set up my workflows so my clients get the emails that they need on time and I don’t need to retype them a million times.

…as well as their contract to sign and their invoice.

It is so worth the investment per month and makes your life a heck of a lot easier.


Rebekah Read, Rebekah Read Creative

Website | Instagram


“All the paperwork needs to be prepared before taking the first customer on the board – email signature, proposal template, design contract template, invoice template, branding guidelines, etc.

Post-launch – some customers need to be explained how to use the interface or make changes in their website.

I offer it as a part of the service, the same as post launching support. Thanks to that customers are not left on their own and feel involved in the project as well.


– Anna Hamilton, AH Design

Website | Instagram


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Web designers speak out: What I wish I knew about onboarding & off-boarding clients