5 Steps to a Killer Intake Process

by Stephanie on May 26, 2013

Client IntakeHave you ever had the client who just wanted everything their way and you just felt drained? If you haven’t I’m sure you want to avoid the experience.

The simple reason for issues like these is that you didn’t set proper ground rules from the get go!! An extensive intake process tells the client EXACTLY what is acceptable and what isn’t and when you take on clients willy-nilly they assume all is fair game.

A few reasons I’ve noticed why business owners don’t set ground rules are:

  • They *need* the business
  • They don’t want to rock the boat
  • They just don’t know what rules they need
  • They believe that just mentioning something in consultation is enough

Well these are all reasons to send your business straight to the fire. This is your business and you know how it work best for you so pull out your pen and paper or your handy-dandy tablet and set some policies and procedures around taking on new clients.

A few reasons why you should always follow a rigorous intake process:

  • A solid system keeps your business moving in the right direction.
  • It’s professional
  • Your clients like when you tell them how things are gonna go down.
  • Humans always need structure

After a few missteps with clients myself, I decided that getting my stuff together and solidifying my intake process wasn’t an option anymore, it was a MUST. Here are the steps I take to ensure that I am comfortable bringing a client on and that the client is comfortable hiring me to help them with their systems – take this procedure, tweak it, use it, make it your own and reap the benefits:

Step 1:

Pre-Qualifying/Disqualifying Questionnaire – have a survey/questionnaire form on your website where you ask basic questions about your prospect and their business. Tell them what your minimum prices are if there not on your website, tell them how you like to work (these two will disqualify the ones that are just “looking around”). Once they have this filled out they can also automatically get taken to the calendar to schedule step 2.

Step 2:

Initial consultation – this is where you can ask a ton of questions, get to know the prospect and clarify exactly what they need. This is where you’ll figure out what type of package will work best and how you can best help the prospect move forward.

Step 3:

Send a follow up email with your proposal attached breaking down (reiterating) how you will work together and what is expected of the prospect and what they can expect from you, along with a contract and the link to make initial or full payment.

Step 4:

Once payment is made and contract is signed – Send Client Welcome kit – I send it in PDF format and a hard copy in the mail with a little gift (a book on systems, a card, candy etc. it depends on the vibe I get from the person) – In the welcome kit, I send a hard copy of the signed contract, and everything, I mean EVERYTHING, I want the client to know about me, my business and how I work.

Step 5:

You’re ready to work with your client!!!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when creating your own policy to incorporate in the intake process:

  • How are you planning on working with client (i.e. over the phone, skype, emails, face-to-face)
  • What are your procedures around phone calls? (I don’t take calls unless they are scheduled)
  • How do you want to get paid? Do you allow payment plans?
  • If the work involves you doing work for the client, what is your turnaround time?

The great thing about knowing the answer to these questions and many others is that you are slowly creating your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) guide. J

Having a great business and happy clients requires you to set up awesome rules that work for both you and the client. Making sure that you have clear systems and procedures to bring on and work with clients gives you’re the luxury of working with people who are ready to work with you on your terms.

Action Step:

Take my intake process, tweak it to fit your business, make it your own and start putting your prospects through a process that will show them you mean business!

Previous post:

Next post: