A client’s first impression of a business sets the tone for a relationship that you hope will last a long time. The onboarding process is the first time a client gets a glimpse of your products, services, and how you do business. The early days can lay the foundation for your relationship.
On the client’s end, the onboarding process is where they discover how you will work together to achieve their goals.
For the business owner, the onboarding process is where you can communicate expectations, set streamlined systems and processes, provide consistency, and ultimately begin building a reputation of organization, confidence, and efficiency.
Onboarding is an essential business strategy. An efficient onboarding process encourages long-term client relationships, and only a 5% increase in customer retention results in more than a 25% increase in profit.
So, how do you make sure you have an efficient onboarding process in place? Start with a well-thought-out checklist. A step-by-step list for your new client onboarding process will save both you and your client time and keep you both on track.
11 Things to Include on Your New Client Onboarding Checklist
1. Welcome email
A welcome email is an excellent way to thank the client for their business and let them know you look forward to working with them to achieve their goals.
A welcome package of information could include an engagement letter, a proposal, a project description, an executive summary, a company overview, and a cost summary.
Also include a contract that specifies the services you will render, ensuring confidentiality, a limitation of liability, parties involved, beginning and end dates of the agreement, and an approval or signature page. If billing before performing the bookkeeping services, attach an invoice as well.
2. Client onboarding questionnaire
The client information questionnaire ensures that you have all of the information needed to get started. The new client checklist should include the following information:
- Business name
- Business address
- Phone number
- The main point of contact
- Bank account numbers or bank access information
- Credit card information for processing payments
- Logins for all vendors
- Payroll information
- Banker contacts
- Federal, local, state tax ID Numbers
- Website URL
- Business goals
- Preferred method of communication
3. Signed documents and payments
Make sure you have a signed contract before beginning any work on the client. You will want to follow up with the client to collect any signed documents and payments if necessary.
4. Assign the client a team or team member
Assign the client to someone who preferably has relevant experience. This previous experience will make the team look competent and confident, reflecting positively on your business.
5. Set up the project
Set the project up in your project management workflow software or any other applicable software using the information from the client questionnaire. It’s smart to back up all of the data with manual folders.
6. Meet with the team or team member assigned to the client
Share all of the client’s relevant information with whoever is working on the client. Be sure to share all pertinent data clearly and in detail, so the team does not request the same information twice.
7. Team introduction to the client
Send an email to introduce the team or team member who will be working mainly with the client. Also, send a link in the email to schedule an appointment to go over everything with the client if needed. No matter what, ensure every meeting has a clear agenda shared with the client well in advance.
8. Team meeting with the client (aka client kickoff meeting)
Go over basic business information with the client, explain what you need from their side in order to execute within the right timelines, and go over the workflow process and the next steps. Answer any questions and make sure the client agrees with everything.
9. Follow-up with the client
Send a ‘thank you’ email thanking the client for meeting with you and mention the next step in the process. Be sure to let the client know you are always available if they have questions.
10. Send a write-up summary
Include a plan of the process that the team will use to meet the client’s goals. Also, outline the expectations, such as what to expect from each other and turnaround times. This welcome pack is a summary from the kick-off meeting, but in writing.
11. Monthly check-in call
Schedule a call 30 days out so you can just check in with the client and make sure everything is up to date. Let them know that you will check in with them monthly, but if anything comes up in the meantime, feel free to be in touch.
If you’re looking for simple workflow templates which include templates for bookkeeping firm workflows to stay on top of your bookkeeping client onboarding checklist, you can download one for free here. It also contains 31 other free accounting workflow templates to help you run your business more efficiently.
How to Automate Client Onboarding
This interview with Brady Meaux, the founder of the accounting firm Meaux and Co, digs into the technology stack he uses for his own business. This is the perfect podcast for those curious about how to make automation work even for start-up businesses and firms, demystifying what applications he uses and how he connects them to automate different tasks.
No matter where you keep it, just make sure that your new client onboarding checklist is somewhere that’s convenient for you to access. This location will mostly depend if you’re handling your workflow manually or if you are using workflow software.
- Write it down. If you’ve manually written the checklist down or typed a copy of one, make copies or print out documents and keep them in a labeled folder. Make sure the folder is somewhere that’s easy to access.
- Google doc or spreadsheet. If you have the onboarding checklist on a Google doc or spreadsheet, save it to your computer so you can go in and check off items as you onboard new clients.
- Jetpack Workflow. If you have Jetpack Workflow software for accountants and bookkeepers that organizes your checklists in one place, use one of these checklists from the template library, or create your own to customize for your clients.