Client: “Hello, madam. I would love to pay you money for this.”
Me: “Why, that’s wonderful! Here’s the thing you wanted!”
Client: “My goodness, that’s lovely! I will continue to pay you for this until the end of time!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if freelancing always happened this way? I don’t know about you, but a regularly-occurring situation like this would make my life a lot less stressful. Unfortunately, taking on a new client is rarely that easy.
The beginning of a freelancer/client relationship is a crucial and delicate time. You’ve both got to get to know each other, discover strengths, establish boundaries, and make sure each party is on the same page as far as expectations.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, of course. These are important issues to tackle and a healthy client relationship depends on this information gathering… but it takes time.
What if I told you there’s a better, more efficient way to tackle the client-onboarding process? What if I told you that I’m about to compare it to a sandwich? Like, your favorite, most delicious dream sandwich?
Welcome to… the Welcome Packet!
Scoring a new client is awesome. It can pull you out of a rut, turn you into your own personal superstar, and give you good ol’ dose of hope… which is always nice when you’re spending so much of your time hustling for a living.
A great welcome kit requires some thought, though. You need to find the perfect balance of warm fuzzies, business, and action… much like finding the perfect balance of bread, toppings, and meat* in a deliciously-built sandwich.
*vegetarians can opt for peanut butter
**those allergic to peanuts can choose avocado
***I’m beginning to rethink this sandwich metaphor
Choose your toppings.
Landing a client for a one-stop job is fine, and will definitely pay a bill or two, but wouldn’t you rather make such a dynamic impression that they simply have to hire you again and again? This is where the toppings come into play in that dream sandwich, and the “warm fuzzy” part comes into your welcome packet.
While the meat and bread are, of course, hugely important parts of a sandwich, it’s usually the toppings that get talked about first. If you can establish the “flavor” of your client experience, you’ll be harder to forget. In this case, you want to create a visually and emotionally pleasing welcome packet that will stick in your client’s mind and never leave.
Starting with a welcome letter is a great way to further establish your personality and show the client what kind of a relationship they can expect from you. If you’re creating a physical welcome packet, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, and a digital welcome kit will benefit greatly from a heartfelt note of thanks and assurance that you’re the freelancer for the job.
You can consider including gifts that reinforce your branding, such as pens or sticky note pads clad in your logo. This option can be expensive, though, and is most-often utilized by agencies with a little more spending room. Agencies with with digital welcome kits often include subscriptions to useful services as a gift.
Your welcome letter should also have your branding on it in a visible place. If you haven’t thought about creating a brand for your business, you should put it on your to-do list and start researching branding specialists in your price range. Having a distinctive and established brand will not only look memorable, it will also help you look more professional to clients and will solidify their trust in you as an expert.
The final essential topping is a client questionnaire. Including a quick survey that assesses your client’s communication preferences, favorite programs and apps, and customer service expectations will help you learn crucial information without having to sit on the phone for an hour. It’s also incredibly helpful to add a section on usernames and passwords for any accounts that you’ll need to access.
Get down to the meat of things.
The perfect combination of toppings will blend nicely into the next piece of your welcome kit: The meat. The star of the show. The whole reason this new client welcome packet has been created in the first place… the work and the pay.
Here is your chance to get key information down in writing and to make it easily accessible for the client. Discuss your contract, how it will be delivered, and payment terms to add another level of transparency to your relationship with your client.
This is a great place to set firm boundaries. Be explicit about revisions, communication availability, client deadlines, and any extra charges the client might incur throughout the process. If you’ve got a tried-and-true client proposal at your disposal, that can serve as the foundation of the project (and relationship) at hand.
Put it all together.
Once you’ve created a personable welcome packet that will woo those clients into loving you forever (and you’ve packed it full of the important details needed to keep them informed), it’s time to wrap it up and get it ready for action.
Where would your dream sandwich be if you had nothing to contain it? Splayed all over your counter? Down your shirt? You need a way to make that sammy streamlined and ready to go.
Tell your client what the next steps will be. Will you send the contract over right away? Would you like to set up a Skype meeting to solidify project details before you start? Will you be sending an estimate and an invoice for a down payment?
The goal of a welcome packet is to aid in clear communication and leave your client with all of the information they need to confidently go forth in this new relationship… and to save you boatloads of time in the process.
Use your welcome packet to communicate important and necessary details. Fluffy anecdotes about your creative process or an extensive recount of your contract will make your welcome packet tedious and difficult to tackle in one bite.
It’s also important to specify whether you’re a single freelancer, working for an agency, or subcontracting certain parts of the work that you don’t specialize in.
I’ve run out of sandwich metaphors.
Behind every truly streamlined freelance operation you’ll find a person who has put a full serving’s worth of thought and time into perfecting his or her processes.
You’ll save even more time by checking out our handy welcome packet template to help get your onboarding process jump-started.
And time, my friends, is the most delicious ingredient of all.
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