Save Time and Impress Your Clients: Build a Project Process in 3 StepsThursday, October 2, 2014
New project inquiries are supposed to be the best part of your day. But you might cringe when you think about all the work that goes into booking a new client. The hours spent writing proposals! The emails back and forth! The price haggling!
Stop the madness. You need a process.
Processes are necessary in any business, not just large corporations. By reducing the manual work required to complete tasks, you can spend more time working with clients and building your business. When you build a solid, repeatable process for your projects, your entire business will change.
- You will spend less time on each project, which means you can take on more clients and make more money
- Your clients will be amazed at how professional and organized you are (Hello, referrals!)
- You will complete your projects with minimal effort required from your clients, so they’ll feel less stressed
- You will have all the details you need in advance, so you won’t have to worry about emailing back and forth with additional questions
Step One: Build Your Packages
When I first started my business, I was resistant to the idea of putting packages on my website. Because every project is different, right? Yes… and no.
Take a look at your last ten projects and you’ll notice that most clients have the same core needs. Create your packages based on those core needs and allow space for variability. You may want to include flex options in the package itself, which could look something like this:
- Home page layout
- Blog page layout
- Landing page layout
- One additional layout of client’s choosing
...You get the idea.
This will save you a ton of time, because you won’t spend hours writing each custom proposal — instead, you can help your clients decide which package is a good fit for their needs and generate an agreement quickly.
By listing packages on your website, you’ll also weed out the clients who aren’t willing to pay your fee. You can then focus that time and energy on clients who are happy to pay you the rate you deserve.
Action Step: Create 1-3 packages based on your typical projects. Allow for flexibility so your packages will meet the needs of the majority of your clients.
Step Two: Create an Inquiry Form
By asking a few simple questions in advance, you’ll have a much easier time determining whether a new client is a good fit for your services. Once you’ve listed your packages on your website, you can link to a simple form that screens clients before they hire you. For example:
- Who are they, and do they have an existing website?
- Why do they need your services?
- What package are they interested in?
- Do they have a timeline or deadline?
- What kind of websites do they like/dislike?
- Do they have any specific questions for you, or is there anything else you should know?
You may already ask questions like these in an email when you get a new inquiry. By dropping this information into a form, you can cut back on the manual work required to get the information you need — and your clients immediately have a sense of direction when they contact you.
By the way, Accrisoft Freedom has a super intuitive Forms module for needs like this.
Action Step: Think about the first questions you usually ask a client, and what information you like to have up front. Build these into your form.
Step Three: Design a Welcome Package
You’ve streamlined the client inquiry process, filtered out the price hagglers, and cut back on the manual communication. The next part of your process will have a huge effect on the rest of the project experience — both for you and your client.
To set expectations and boundaries for the duration of your project, you need a Welcome Package. This can be as simple as a set of PDFs that you design ahead of time and send to each new client when they book you. Think about everything you need to communicate to your client about the project, and all the information you need from them in return. Rather than sending an email as these details come up — which wastes a lot of time and means you’re left waiting, unable to move forward, until you get a response — it’s better to outline everything at the start.
Build your Welcome Package based on the conversations you typically have with your clients — here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Website Planner: create a visual guide to help your client understand the options available. Include layouts, website structure, header options, etc.
- Intake Questionnaire: This is where you can collect all the technical details (like logins), have your client choose a website structure (point them back to the Website Planner for guidance), and ask in-depth questions related to brand and website style.
- Process Document: Make sure you and your client are on the same page. Lay out guidelines related to payment details, revisions, office hours, how to handle scope changes, etc.
Action Step: Think of all the information you need to complete your projects, and all the details that will help your clients understand what to expect. Design your Welcome Package based on these details.
We’d love to know: what process do you currently use for your projects?