So, now that you've learned some new tips and tricks that will help you find clients from social media, referrals and your blog, how will you book those clients? Often, finding clients can be the easy part. Booking them can be tricky, especially if you don't have a system in place.
It's helpful to create a 'booking process' for yourself. Write down each step you and the client need to take after they've decided to work with you- from the moment they say yes to the moment you send them their homework. Then automate and streamline each step in that process, like your life depends on it. You can streamline your booking process by:
- Creating canned emails so you don't have to keep retyping what you tell every new client.
- Creating reusable questionnaires for each of your services.
- Implement apps that save you time in the booking process.
I'm going to go through my own booking process with you so that you can hopefully take some ideas from it. You may have seen in last month's article, How I manage my client flow in Streak, a little snippet of my inquiry process. But I'm going to break it down here and explain exactly how I streamline my bookings and inquiries.
My step-by-step booking process
1. I receive an inquiry. All inquiries come through the simple contact form I have on my website. It asks for a few details (name, email, URL, which service they're interested in) so that I know a bit about them before I even reply. You'll notice that I point inquirers to my FAQ page- it helps stop them from asking me questions that are already answered there.
2. I send them a canned email response. Since most inquiries are the same, I send a canned email response (an email template) in Gmail. It tells them when I'm available, how long their project would approximately take, and asks them to schedule a Skype consultation with me so we can discuss their project more.
3. The client schedules a free 15-30 minute consultation. I use Calendly to schedule consultations and I absolutely love it! It's simple and it syncs with my Google Calendar. When they've booked their consultation, I email them to thank them and tell them to accept my Skype contact request before the session. This email is also a canned response. (See how canned emails make the booking process more streamlined?!)
4. Calendly notifies me and the client when the consultation is due. But I find it nice and helpful to drop them a message the day of the session as a bonus reminder. It's just a short canned email, but they don't know that it's canned. It shows that I care and I'm looking forward to 'meeting' them!
5. We have our Skype consultation. In their Skype discussions we usually talk about their business, goals, needs, and target customers. Then we ask each other questions. You can read up on my tips for Skyping with clients on my blog!
6. I send another canned email. I call this one my 'after skype' email. I give them a short summary of our conversation, I send them my contract, I send them an invoice, tell them how to pay the deposit to book their spot in my schedule, and I attach a recording of our Skype consultation. I then leave it up to them to decide if they're going to work with me! Using Streak, an add-on for Gmail, I set a reminder that will tell me to follow up with the client in 10 days if I haven't heard back from them. If 10 days goes by, I send a canned response that asks if they have any questions or concerns I could help them with.
7. The clients books me. When the client has paid the deposit and signed the contract, I set up a project page in Basecamp for them. You can create project templates in Basecamp so I just duplicate a template. Then I send- you guessed it- yet another canned email. This one invites the client to their project page and explains how we'll use it. It also tells them about the homework they need to complete before their project starts.
8. I send another email. Canned, you say? Why yes. Yes it is. 2 weeks before their project, I email them reminding them to complete their 'homework' and asking them to book a Skype session with me. This year I added 30 minute Skype sessions to my packages so I could discuss the client's homework with them and the client could ask any last-minute questions they have. I find these Skype sessions really good motivators for my clients to get their homework done on time.
9. I schedule an email reminder. I schedule an email to send 1 day before the session, reminding the client of it.
10. We have the consultation! After the consultation, we're both on the same page and excited to crack on with their branding project. You can view examples of my work here and read testimonials from clients who have been through this process over here.
There are always more ways to automate and streamline your process. For example, I feel that I could try to set up Calendly to remind clients of their Skype sessions instead of doing it myself. And if I had a virtual assistant, she could handle the emails completely. The more and more you think of ways to simplify your process, the more ideas come to you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on my booking process. Tips and constructive feedback are always welcome! Head to the Facebook group to start a conversation or leave a comment here.