We have a lot of content on Horkey HandBook that will teach you how to start a virtual assistant business, or how to decide what services to offer once you’ve identified your niche. But what happens after a client says “yes” and you’re left wondering what’s the best way to start working together.
Mallory offered to share her elaborate process for onboarding clients – from the tools she uses to the step-by-step guide to start working with clients in no time.
Now that you have decided to start your journey to becoming a rockin’ VA, you need a rollin’ client onboarding process (like what I did there?).
Client onboarding processes can take up a lot of time with back-and-forth communication which will get quite messy if you don’t have a solid system in place.
Also, not having a process in place could end up looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. And you want to make an excellent first impression, right?
4 Steps to Take Before Onboarding Clients
1. Decide on a Client Relationship Manager (CRM).
CRM’s are a very essential tool for your client management and experience.
I highly recommend Dubsado for your CRM. This tool is great for managing clients, contracts, questionnaires, accepting payment and emails. It also allows you to create workflows that will automate your client process by triggering an action once a certain step is complete.
2. Create a lead capture form in your CRM and then embed it into your website.
A lead capture form is going to be what allows you to gather information from someone who is interested in working with you.
Once someone fills out the lead capture form, their information will automatically be entered into your CRM. This is the lead capture form I use.
Don’t have a website?
Most lead captures have a shareable link that you can send to potential clients. You can also link the lead capture form to your Facebook business page Call To Action button.
If you’re still not sure what virtual assistant services you can offer, we’ve put together a list of over 150 services that webpreneurs need help with.
3. Set up an appointment scheduler.
This is great to have so you can avoid the constant back and forth “What time works for you to chat?” conversation.
This way, you are able to set hours that work for you and send clients to a link to choose an appointment time that works for them, too.
Tools like Acuity and Calendly work great for this because most CRMs allow you to embed these into your lead capture forms as well.
So as the client is filling it out, right at the bottom will be your appointment scheduler and they can schedule a call right then and there.
4. Set up canned emails.
Canned emails are predetermined responses that are saved as a template.
They are the perfect tool to have in your arsenal to save you loads of time when your client is working through your client onboarding process.
With canned emails, you can reduce the time it takes you to respond to clients and it will save you lots of time. I like to use canned emails in my workflows as well in my client onboarding process. Once the client signs a contract and pays their invoice, a canned response Welcome Email gets sent immediately telling them the next steps.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Onboarding Clients
Once you have these four things in place, you’re ready to put your client onboarding process in motion.
Here is step-by-step how it should look:
Step 1: Client fills out lead capture form/schedules a discovery call. (A discovery call is an introductory call for you and the potential client to get to know one another and see if you both would be a good fit working together.)
Step 2: Once the call is scheduled, send client a questionnaire form to complete before the call asking them general questions about their business and needs.
Step 3: Have the discovery call. Rock it!
Step 4: Send the client a proposal of your services, if needed. (You can do this through your CRM.)
Step 5: Once the client agrees to the proposal, send them the contract.
Step 6: Once contract is signed, send a welcome pack.
Step 7: Schedule a client kick-off call.
Step 8: Gather log-in information for accounts you will need access to.
Like I mentioned before, having a CRM in place will allow this entire process to be automated with a workflow.
3 More Things to Set Up After Onboarding Your Client
Woo hoo! You have yourself a signed client! Now what?
Now, you need to come up with a plan of action!
A good place to start is to set up a meeting with a client to discuss the following:
1. Task Management Systems
Having a task management system is HUGE!
Every virtual assistant should have one in their business. You can start with Trello, which is a free and very robust tool for organizing client work.
Once you onboard your client, the client will likely add you to a task management workspace to have a hub for all tasks the need to be done. If you have a task management system that you use to manage all the work they need, you can offer to add your client to it.
2. Communication Process
How will you be communicating with your client? How often should you be checking in?
A lot of times clients will want to communicate with you other than via email, because let’s be real, email can be a drag, especially if you need an immediate response on a task. Video chat is often the best route to talk with your clients because, if you use programs like Zoom, you can share your screen with each other.
You can also record the call and go back to watch it later and take notes.
Other forms of communication include messaging each other through a Slack channel, task manager, or other chat rooms.
A great feature on Trello that I LOVE is their Board Meeting power-up. This allows you to video chat with your client right within the Trello board you both use. That way you can update it as you are discussing tasks that need to be done and it is visible to both parties.
I also communicate with my client through apps that turn your phone into walkie-talkies such as Voxer or Marco Polo.
3. Account Login Information
In order for you to do your job for your client, you will most likely need the login information to any accounts you will be managing.
The different types of accounts would include their email accounts, website editor, CRM, social media accounts, etc.
If the client doesn’t want to share their passwords with you, I recommend using LastPass. This tool will allow your client to share their login information with total control of access. That means they can share their login information with you by giving you access to their account without letting the password be visible to you.
This helps build trust with the client and helps them feel more comfortable giving you access to their business accounts that could have sensitive information.
Pro tip: If you are managing a lot of clients’ accounts and are tired of having to login and logout of one account to log in to another, I use a desktop app called Wavebox. This helps me keep all of these accounts in one spot where I can switch between them with ease.
All my accounts are displayed in tabs on the left of the application window which allows switching between accounts to be seamless.
When you have your systems in place, have a solid onboarding process down, and have a clear outline of the plan of action after your client signs on, you will save time and impress your client with your professional client experience.
You are the real deal! Now you can feel more confident in your business.
What steps do you take to onboard new clients? I’d love to know!
Mallory Pettersen is the owner of Systemized Joy and helps online entrepreneurs develop, streamline, and manage their project management and client on-boarding systems. She works mainly with teams to streamline collaboration and communication. She has worked with photographers, business coaches, OBM’s (Online Business Managers), large organizations’ communication and creative teams, and many more to help implement and manage systems that have allowed their business to work on autopilot. You can connect with Mallory on Facebook.