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?)
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!
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!
“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.
– Jessica Haines, Jessica Haines Design
“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.
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
“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.
– Lindsey Anderson, Six Leaf Design
“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!!
– Malena Southworth, Southworth Design Co.
“Onboarding counts towards your time!
Factor that in!
– Kali Edwards, June Mango Design
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.
– Christy Price, Christy Price
I run my business off Dubsado + coffee (but mostly Dubsado).
I send proposals, contracts, invoices, questionnaires, and more with this incredible platform.
I literally book $5,000+ clients IN MY SLEEP.
– Erin Neumann, Be Aligned Web Design
Yes, the entire process is important, but your onboarding is what seals the deal.
I use Dubsado to automate everything from the initial contact form and consult booking to the proposal, contract & invoicing.”
– Vanessa Bucceri, Vanessa Bucceri Creative
Offer ongoing support for a monthly cost ($X.) This could be an additional revenue stream for you.”
– Kaitlin Hoppenstedt Ortgega, Studio Kait
“Systems, systems, systems. That’s it!
I LOVE Dubsado for my client onboarding and off-boarding because I never miss a step.
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.
– Becca Wood, Alto Design Co
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.
– Melissa Stephenson, Five Design Co
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.
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
– Michanae Edwards, Michanae’s Designs
“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 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.
– Jen Davis, Hello June Creative
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
“Woo, onboarding and off-boarding was not something I had in the beginning but let me tell you it changes EVERYTHING!
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.
– Hannah Phillips, Dear Brunch Design
“This golden nugget is something I often share with new designers when they get in touch.
– Eleanor Stones, Eleanor Stones
“I love Dubsado for onboarding clients.
The automation features also save me so much time.”
– Jackie Elefante, Jaks Digital
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
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
“Set a deadline for final payment, not just on completion, add ‘or by (date) which ever comes first’”.
– Jaime Lawson, by Jaime
“After TONS of research I decided to go with Dubsado as my CRM. I now do EVERYTHING through it!
…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
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