How to Nail Your Onboarding Process For Your Design Business

Part of running a business is onboarding new clients which can be tricky if you don’t have a process in place. You can find yourself reinventing the wheel each time.

Since time is precious in any business I wanted to make sure you had some tips on how you can nail your own onboarding process. Creat an onboarding process that is reflective of the way you like to work and that will be easy for you to pass onto a team member.

Sounds good? Ok. Cool!

What is an onboarding process?

An onboarding process is a method in which you bring new clients into your business. It helps to set the tone for how you plan to work together and sets the expectations of various points of interactions.

Types of interactions could include:
• How to ask questions
• Where to submit forms/documents
• Who to contact for more information, etc.

Depending on the type of business you have you just want to make sure things are clear and easily understood by all parties involved.

How to determine your onboarding process?

When I was figuring my own process what I found helpful was to sit down and walk through each step people took to work with me. Then I went back and and tweak what was not working to make the necessary adjustments.

What I later found out is that I would tweak it as I work with more clients. Which I will talk a bit more later.

But before you dive into writing out your onboarding process. Consider this…

How do you like to work

It’s your business and how you like to work is just as important. Definitely map out how you like to work and what you want your days to look like. Maybe you don’t want a contact form where clients fill out questions, maybe you prefer they just go straight to scheduling a call.

Knowing this type of details will help you plan out your onboarding process and help it to be better aligned with how you work. Here is a sample of my process when I was figuring it out.

So with pen and paper in hand I mapped out the journey. For example…

Someone lands on my site reads through, decides they are interested, clicks the contact form.

After they click the contact form, I receive an email and review the information. I then type up a response and send it to them with my intro guide. My intro guide just gives them a bit more information about my process and expectations. Setting the tone at every stage of your business is very important! In that guide I also invite them to schedule a call if they haven’t done so already.

Once on the call I’ve gathered my questions beforehand because I have some information about them from my form and our previous communication. Make sure you have a meeting agenda before you hop on a call. This will keep things on track and establish clear communication lines.

I won’t go into the whole entire process but that gives you an idea of how specific you can get. You could even go deeper.

Such as defining what you want to say after receiving an inquiry. Hint: don’t respond with a short abrupt message. Put some love into the message, because they probably are use to short responses. If you take the time out to write a great response email you automatically will stand out from the rest.

If you use a call scheduler write down what you want to ask or say in that system. Don’t just use the default settings tweak the settings to your business and the experience you want clients to receive.

Another thing to keep in mind when defining your onboarding process is…

How will this help your clients?

Only include in your onboarding process what’s going to be the most useful to your clients. Remember they are busy and too much un-necessary information could create an unpleasant experience.

Think about the type of questions that someone new to your service would have. It’s easy for us to be comfortable with industry jargon and standards but clients don’t always know the terminology so make it easy.

I suggest you partner with a friend who doesn’t know the industry your in and have them read through your onboarding process. Whatever questions they have make sure you take those questions and create a solution for them in your onboarding process.

Now that you have a written idea and foundation. It’s time to think about…

What you need to get started with your onboarding process

Your going to need some tools and systems most likely, so it’s important to find ones that match closely to how your onboarding process works. Think about all these potential scenarios:

• Contact forms – how will you collect information.
• Questionnaires – will this be within email or another system?
• Documents – how will clients share documents and files?
• Feedback request – how will clients submit feedback?
• Video – what types of tools will you need?

Suggest Tools

There are a ton of systems out there but here are some to check out.

Contact forms
Contact Form 7
Ninja Forms

Questionnaires
Typeform
Wufoo

Sharing of Documents
Dropbox
Content Snare
Google Drive

Video
Loom
CloudApp

My favorite system for contact forms, questionnaires, etc is Dubsado! You can read more about How I Use Dubsado In My Business to learn more.

Once you have your tools its now time to implement!

Implement your process and test it!

Now that you have a process in mind and the tools needed its time to implement. Put it to work. Run through everything you planned and take notes.

Review Your Onboarding Processs

Once you have tested it out review your onboarding process to make sure it flows for your business. Take notes on what to keep, what to change. Did your client get confused at any point during the process? Why? How can you tweak it so it’s better next time?

Refine Your Onboarding Process

Now that you have some notes go back into your systems and tweak what you need to and if you have a chance ask your clients for some feedback. Take that information and implement so your next client will avoid the same situation.

Implement your new onboarding process

You’ve tested and received feedback put a stamp on it! Your process is now solid and easy for you and your clients. Of course its fine to change things as your business changes but now you have one less thing to worry about in your business.

Bonus! The Benefits of having a solid Onboarding process

In addition to nailing your onboarding process there are some other added benefits. When its time to add more people to your team. You will be able to easily train them on your process and pass it over for the new team member to handle.

It will also give you a way to validate that things are going correctly in your business because you took the time to make a solid plan. I highly recommend you add your process into a project management system. This will help you stay organized and help keep you accountable. Here at The May Creative I use ClickUp to help manage communication in my business as well as with clients. It’s a great system to keep things in one spot and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Now run off and put your process together so you can wow your amazing clients and win their hearts. Let me know how it goes!

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