By Elena Favaro Viana
Plain and simple: your onboarding process sets the tone for your working relationship. It is how you introduce your clients to your business, service or product.
As a business owner, acting from a place of reaction is a bad idea, so it’s important to set yourself up proactively with the help of this winning formula for a Flawless Legal Onboarding process: Proposal Stage + Welcome Package + First Call.
From a legal standpoint, what you do here matters. When executed properly, this flawless legal onboarding process can help avoid the majority of future client-related-headaches. When talking about headaches, think: pesky late payments, fraudulent copycats who steal your intellectual property, tardy time-wasters, or those clients that completely ghost you! (Nobody has time for that). A structured onboarding system will ensure your business can blossom with loyal, returning clients, increasing that overall Customer Lifetime Value.
STEP 1: THE PROPOSAL STAGE
Following your own unique Client Journey, you will inevitably reach a point when potentially working with someone where you have to send out the Proposal. This can be automated, using a project management software (Honeybook, Dubsado or Bonsai are great options) or done manually (via good old fashioned email).
If you are selling a high-ticket product or service, your Proposal should be customized to each client with their name, a few personalized sentences that reference the topics covered during your discovery call or an inside joke to lighten the process, as well as outlining the basic features and scope of work of your service, offer or product that you are proposing to them. [ Bonus Tips: Add a brochure of other services you offer a la carte that are outside the scope of work proposed to drive the bottom line with add on’s.]
Now the key here, is to send the Proposal with your Contract.
When you send the Proposal, it is critical you also send the correct Contract for the service. Each service or offer in your product suite must be paired with its own Contract, specific to that service or offering. Your Contract is the Formal Proposal that outlines the entire scope of work, payment policies, and terms of the working relationship. This is your chance to outline how you want your dream relationship to go, while maintaining a running list of all the services you are offering to the client!
When a client signs the Contract, this is the official YES (Yayy!)
[Bonus Tip: do not pre-sign your Contract. You want to allow space and room for any negotiations or amendments of the Contract.]
[Bonus Bonus Tip: The Contract should *legally* be signed before the invoice is paid. A potential client cannot pay for something they have not yet agreed to.]
*The Important Bit*
The Proposal Stage is the FIRST OPPORTUNITY your potential clients have to review your business policies. This means they have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with your refund policies, any late fees and even your rescheduling terms before they sign. Once your potential client signs the Contract, they have *legally* agreed to all of the terms and agreed to follow them.
NOW – Just because you receive a signed Contract, does not mean that your client actually read and understood each and every clause within it. Yes, they may have signed it, and yes they are legally bound to it – but do not assume they read it or even understood what it says. This is the first place most business owners get tripped up. It is easy to assume that our perfect dream clients know all of the rules, but it is likely not the case. This is why we want to introduce you to Step 2.
STEP 2: THE WELCOME PACKAGE
When a client signs the Contract, it is time to start onboarding them with a Congratulatory Email and a Welcome Package. To avoid any assumptions that your Client read and understood the policies listed in your Contract, your next job is to tell them again! The best place to do this is in your Welcome Package.
Think of your Welcome Package as a downloadable PDF, fully customized with your own beautiful branding that gets your Client extra excited about the work you are about to do together. In the Welcome Package you can provide:
*The Important Bit*
Your Housekeeping policies are the SECOND OPPORTUNITY your potential client has to review your important business policies. In plain English, you can reiterate some of the important ‘rules’ you want your client to follow, like your rescheduling policy, what happens if a client is late to a meeting, any late fees they might incur, what your intentions are around intellectual property, payment policies and what your refund policy is. Setting expectations and clear guidelines are the key to a successful working relationship!
Grab an example of what this could look like here
STEP 3: THE FIRST CALL
During your first onboarding call, it’s important to carve out 15 minutes at the beginning to cover, one last time, those business policies. Remember, never assume your Client read the contract or even skimmed the resource cover-to-cover. So, this is the THIRD OPPORTUNITY your potential client has to digest your business policies. Set up those first 15 minutes to go over:
(1) Welcome to the program or service
(2) Expectations and recap the scope of work or program structure
(3) Housekeeping rules
(4) Any outstanding items
(4) Questions they may have
When discussing your housekeeping rules, you want to lay out all the not-so-sexy legal stuff to make your Client extra-aware of those expectations.
The psychology behind this Three Step Flawless Legal Onboarding Process is that the client has not done anything wrong yet, and therefore would have no reason to feel defensive when talking through how you approach and/or trouble-shoot a potential problem. At this point the client is absorbing the information and you are not only programming them to follow the rules but giving them the burden of the responsibility to stay in line. In our experience, whenever a client has gone through the Flawless Legal Onboarding Process, they are the first to take responsibility if they are late to a call or unable to make a payment and will rectify the situation themselves or graciously accept the consequences.
When done correctly, the Flawless Legal Onboarding Process will help you avoid any misunderstandings or potential head-aches with nightmare clients. You can continue your business confidently knowing you did everything you could to proactively avoid any legal issues.
Connect with Elena on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wheredidshegonow/
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