When someone raises their hand and says, “hey, I want to work with you!”… What happens next?
Do you randomly scribble stuff down on a piece of scratch paper, sporadically follow-up when you think of them and throw it all together to hopefully secure the client?
You might be like, “yea but hey, I’m doing the best that I can!”
… but what if I told you that you could spend less time on admin work and more time on finding new business and doing the other things you actually like to do JUST by having a systematic client onboarding process?
Sound good to be true?
Hah, I wish.
It’s totally possible but there’s a huge caveat to that….
You’re actually going to have to set up the system before you get to use it.
The experience that your clients have is customized to YOU, so if there was an “out of the box, done for you” version of this, everyone would be doing it and there’d be absolutely nothing special about you.
By having you create this onboarding experience for your clients, you are literally creating your unique value proposition.
Yes, you’ll need to take the time to do it.
Yes, you’ll need to slow down for a little while so you can speed up down the line.
Yes, you’ll need to write the email templates (ahem, you probably already do this, you just freestyle it every time but you’re probably saying the same stuff over and over again).
The alternative is you can keep going the way you’re going, burnt out, overworked and your business will continue at the plateau it’s at.
It’s totally up to you.
… but you don’t have to do it completely by yourself.
I’m literally walking you through every. single. step. of the process so you can implement this as you go.
While I’ve customized this system for my real estate business and Millennial Empire Builders, this system can work for any industry, so long as you deal with people on a 1:1 basis.
In a few weeks, I’ll write a post about how to use sales funnels for to convert email subscribers to clients, but if you’re in sales, this right here is the system for you.
While you’re at it, you might as well download the free 13-page workbook that goes along with this post… and if you’ve been around here before, you know my posts are notoriously detailed and the workbooks are specifically designed to help you put it into action.
No BS, all implementation.
Otherwise, you know how it goes… Tomorrow turns into later, and later turns into never and in another year, you might find an extra hour or two to work ON your business instead of IN your business… Or you might be so burnt out that you think about throwing in the towel all together.
So let’s do a little work up front to grow faster without burning out.
You with me?
Automating Your Client Onboarding Process
This post is called “How To AUTOMATE Your Client Onboarding Process”, not just “How To Give A Great Customer Experience” for a reason…
We’re focused on automating the process in a way that’s personalized to them AND saves you time.
We’re killing two birds with one stone.
Blow their minds and save you time… at the same damn time.
Before I walk you through this process, there are a few things we need to talk about…
If you’re anti-technology…
I think I probably say this in almost every post, but here’s what you have to remember: your brain is a processing machine, NOT a memory machine.Your brain is a processing machine, NOT a memory machine. Click To Tweet
In other words, your brain should focus on solving problems, not on remembering stuff.
So stop trying to remember stuff and leverage technology to make your life easier.
To make all of the automation magic happen, you’re going to need technology.
Here’s a little quote for you…
Innovate or die.
The world isn’t going to slow down for you.
You don’t need to be a tech genius by any means, but you do need to have a willingness to learn and/or hire someone who can.
If the latter isn’t an option, you better get to learning… because technology is only going to keep advancing and by fighting it, you’re only making yourself more and more obsolete.
Before you bring out the pitchforks, please note…
The personal touch is DEFINITELY still valuable and think about how much MORE you could magnify that personal touch WITH technology.The personal touch is DEFINITELY still valuable and think about how much MORE you could magnify that personal touch WITH technology. Click To Tweet
With the exception of writing the email templates, setting up the automations only takes a few, annoying minutes so I promise I’m making it easy for you.
It’s annoying to set up because there’s a bunch of little things that go into it but remember, it’s an automation… Once it’s set up, you don’t have to worry about it again.
I even included whether or not it’s ‘set it and forget it’ under each step so you’ll see how much you’re actually automating once you’ve done this.
If you think automation kills the personal touch…
There’s this huge misconception that “automation” means you’re going to lose the personal touch… It’s like people’s brains shut down as soon as you mention systems or automation because they feel like they’re not going to be close to their clients anymore.
First of all, you would’ve been right 10 years ago… but technology has evolved and so have people’s expectations.
If you’re thinking this takes away the personal touch, let me be the one to tell you that making your clients wait while you “check your schedule” or “finish an appointment” to even decide when you can meet is not personal.
They want to connect with you when they want to and that’s what this little system does.
You’re holding their digital hand through the entire client onboarding process… You’re giving them an even DEEPER personal touch because you can build rapport on their time and you’re satisfying their instant gratification.
Plus, once they schedule the appointment, they automatically get confirmation emails and since I add my client onboarding packages (we call them prelisting packages in real estate), I’m giving them a WAY more personal touch.
Simultaneously, the contact is added to my Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Contactually which leads me to…
You’ll Need To Make An Investment In Your System
The other thing to note is that in order to make this system work, you’re also going to need to invest some money because I’ve yet to find a CRM (customer relationship manager) that offers free automations so if you find one, let me know!
Before you scroll right past this, think about this…
How much is your time and sanity worth?
When you use technology, tools, systems and leverage people to gain time back, you are BUYING your time back… Which is going to require an investment of some sort.
Before you go moaning and groaning, think of it this way…
If you make $100k/year at 50 weeks per year and 40 hours a week (yes, I know, you probably work more than 40, but for the sake of the example, play along!)
Your average hourly rate is $50/hour.
If your CRM saves you an hour a day, that’s 5 hours per week or 20 hours per month.
Contactually, the CRM that I use, love and recommend is $59/month for the level that includes programs (aka automations) and Zapier is the tool that makes all of the automation magic happen is $15/month for their lowest plan. Those are the only two things you’ll HAVE to pay for, so at $74/month, that literally costs 1.5 hours of time compared to the 20 hours per month it saves.
Even if your income is $50k, it is costing you 3 hours of your time in exchange for getting 20 back… and with those 20 new free hours, I ASSURE you that you’ll find enough time to get enough business to cover the cost.
This little client onboarding process system DEFINITELY saves me more than 20 hours per month, so you see why I HAPPILY pay it every month.
You have to decide if the same is important to you.
Now, let’s dive in.
Simplify The Appointment Process
[SET IT AND FORGET IT]
I’ve got to say… you know when you have a stroke of genius and you KNOW that it’s genius?
This was mine.
I realized that my client onboarding process began BEFORE they even agree to start working with me… It started with their first interaction so I systemized and packaged it.
Since my follow-up plan basically teaches them everything they need to know about the home buying and selling process, I could package it as a “home buying/selling guide” that’s delivered in bite sized pieces and literally promote that as an opt-in.
Major Key: That means that your follow-up plan HAS to be systematic and it MUST add value or this won’t work.
My follow-up plans are 10 emails over 10 days, 13 texts over 13 weeks, 4 mailings and 4 phone calls. They’re also added to a property search update or home valuation, too.
It didn’t start that way… I started with just the mailings and phone calls. I was already texting but it wasn’t systematic and then I added in the emails… So this was a process that layered in each of these.
Yes, that sounds like a lot… and it is.
… but when it’s all value, they EAT. IT. UP.
They LOVE it.
However, I repeat… This. Only. Works. If. Your. Content. Is. Original. AND. Valuable.
Don’t try to get it all perfect before you ever start doing it or you’ll always be getting ready to get ready.
Here’s a wholeeee article to walk you through a super simple process to systemize your follow-ups.
… and if you’re ready to take it to the next level and want an insanely detailed breakdown of exactly how I put my whole follow-up system together, there will be an entire bonus workshop in the Empire Builder Academy by the end of the week:
With this little system in place, you’ll get to spend more time talking to “ready” clients and less time talking to “I’m just gathering information” prospects.
Plusssss, I don’t know about you, but even when people do refer me, they’d rather give the person my number than giving me theirs.
I HATE that because I know for cetain that the average person knows 6 realtors, and if they got my name, they’re probably getting other realtor’s names too… and I know that I should be the realtor they should be talking to.
With that in mind, this little system makes me stand out COMPLETELY.
SO, here’s what happens:
Landing Page 1: They express interest in moving
The link for this page is part of a text template for when people ask to refer me and it’s in all of my email marketing. It’s where the automation of my client onboarding process begins.
All of these are built in LeadPages which is awesome because you can build beautiful landing pages with their templates in just a few minutes and it integrates with almost every social media platform. It starts at $25/month if you pay annually and $37/month if you pay monthly and you can get a free trial right here.
If you already have a website or don’t need to use LeadPages, you could send them directly to Calendly instead… I just like having the landing page because it makes it look prettier and makes the process way simpler because there’s no distractions.
Landing Page 2: They Clarify Their Timeframe
Next up, they’re asked how soon they’re looking to move so that we can best serve them.
If they choose “I’m ready to buy now”, they’re taken to the landing page I showed below that directs them to book an appointment.
If they choose “I’m not ready yet”, they’re taken to a landing page that looks almost identical to the “book an appointment” page, except it’s a breakdown of my follow-up campaign and packaged as a home buying guide.
This little system works wonders because it allows you to customize your experience for every single client… I’ve been told that they feel like I’m holding their hand every step of the way.
To all of my “automation kills the personal touch”, that right there is my response.
Landing Page 3: Book An Appointment Page
Here’s what the seller appointment page looks like (excuse my lovely face in the screenshot!) and this is where the magic of the client onboarding process really starts:
Landing Page 4: They Schedule An Appointment In Calendly
When they click the “book an appointment” link on the above page, they’re taken to Calendly which checks availability in my calendar.
Almost every time I use it, I get compliments from the people who schedule with it.
You don’t actually need the upgraded version, but I use it for the advanced reminders and multiple event types so I have it. If that’s not important to you, the free version will work just fine.
Once they book an appointment, they receive an email confirmation that tells them what to do next.
For my buyers, those next steps are making sure they’re prequalified before we meet and reviewing my prebuying package.
For my sellers, I let them know I’m going to be sending a prelisting package about their home within 48 hours.
Automatically Create A Task In Contactually With Zapier
[SET IT AND FORGET IT]
Zapier basically makes you look like a ninja and eliminates 99.9999% of the annoying data entry stuff that you hate to do by integrating your apps for you.
It should be a law that in order to create an app, you need to integrate with Zapier.
I’m totally kidding, but that’s how much I love it.
Contactually and Calendly don’t have a natural integration so to make this work, you’ll need multi-step zaps on their upgraded plan and pricing starts at $15/month for 20 zaps (once you start using Zapier, you magically start finding new zaps to create).
I currently have the $50/month plan and am using 37 zaps because I’m all about working smarter, not harder.
You’re going to use Zapier to remind you to add the person who created the appointment to your pipeline by creating a deal.
Before I show you the screenshot of how to set this up in Zapier, there’s a caveat…
Because I lead both Millennial Empire Builders and sell real estate, AND have about 10 different types of appointments in Calendly, there are a bunch of other steps in here that most people who only have one or two types of clients won’t need to do and I mention below what you’ll need to do and which parts you can skip:
Here’s the breakdown of what you’re seeing above, which parts you’ll need to do and which parts you can skip:
1. Must Have: The trigger event that causes the zap to run is a meeting being scheduled in Calendly (Calendly Invitee Created)
2-3. Must Have: Use Zapier’s text functionality to split text (this is to separate first and last name). Zapier will walk you through how to do it right here. You’ll need to do this for two steps because the first one will pull the first name, the second one will pull the last name.
5. ONLY IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE EVENT TYPES IN CALENDLY: if you have multiple event types and only want this to continue if it matches a specific event type, use this. If you only have one event type, you can skip it completely.
6-8. Must Have: ‘Create Task’ in Contactually. When you go to add the contact, it will tell you to add a ‘Find Contact’ function. Do not do the ‘Find Contact’ filter first, use the button in the ‘Create Task’ button.
9-11. Don’t worry about them!
I know I know, this all sounds confusing but Zapier makes it super simple and allows you to test it every step of the way to make sure it’s functioning properly.
Try it out… It might take you 5-10 minutes to set up, but I promise once it’s set up, you NEVER have to do it again.
Thank me later, seriously.
If this overwhelms you, go on YouTube or find someone who can help you.
So nowwww, let’s talk about what happens after you add them to your pipeline…
Create Your Pipelines In Contactually
[SET IT AND FORGET IT]
Since we’re in the business of AUTOMATING your client onboarding process, you’re going to track every part of the transaction and have a visual overview of what your business looks like.
Even though Contactually has email templates for almost every industry that you can use, I recommend writing your own so that it works the way you want it to and the emails sound like you.
Here’s what one of my pipelines looks like (I hid most of the deals to protect their privacy and left a few just so you can get an idea of what it looks like):
You’ll notice the different steps of the pipeline…
- Appointment Scheduled
- Appointment Rescheduled
- Need Signatures
- Listing Signed
- Copy Approval
- Open House
- Open House Complete
- Receiving Offers
- Under Contract
- Inspection Passed
- Clear To Close
Customize those steps to your business or if you’re in real estate, feel free to copy mine.
… or maybe you’re a coach, consultant or freelancer and your pipeline steps are something like: book a call/appointment, they fill out the questionnaire or intake form, complete the call, send agreement and request signature, prepare and send the invoice, book a kickoff call, and so on.
Yours might only be 2-3 steps or it might be 20.
Either way, no matter how you set it up today, I will put money on the fact that you will change, edit and refine at least a few times as you’re implementing this strategy into your business.
Just start with what you can think of now.
Don’t wait until it’s perfect because you will NEVER know if it’s perfect until you start using it.
When you find a hole in your client onboarding process, don’t go “this whole thing doesn’t work!”… That just means you have to upgrade your system and refine it to fill the hole.
Create Programs With Email Templates For Each Step Of Your Pipelines
[SET IT AND FORGET IT]
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
I know it’s a lot to process and set up, but once you do, your business will completely change.
Now, if you just leave the pipeline the way it is, you’ll never use it, forget about it and it’ll just be another annoying task for you to do.
Instead, assign programs to each step of the pipeline in Contactually and your pipelines come to life.
Every single thing that you want your clients to experience should be an action item in one of your programs.
If there are forms you want to send or things they should know, include ALL of it in the email templates you create. You’ll repeat yourself wayyyyy less and you’ll have to think way less.
As people move through the steps in your pipeline, the tasks will show up on your Contactually dashboard on the day they are due.
[NOTE: If you have multiple tasks for one person due on the same day, they won’t all show up on your dashboard at the same time. Once you clear your dashboard, refresh your page and the tasks will come up. I clear my dashboard and refresh until nothing else pops up. It’s kind of annoying that way, but you get used to it.]
The fact that all of your clients are in one place and you no longer have to write reminders to yourself because everything is systemized and you know that you’re giving your clients the BEST experience ever is peace of mind!
Some of the steps in your pipeline might only have one or two actions to complete, some of them might have more… There’s no right answer, just do what works for your business and again, if you find a hole, fill it.
[As a side note: in addition to this whole client onboarding process, I also use a transaction coordinator who stays on top of my dates and deadlines for the inspection, financing, appraisal and so on. Since my client is also getting emails from her, my pipeline is way heavier on the front-end because I still do the marketing of my listings and the showings of my buyers (but not for long muahahahah) and she does most of the follow-ups once we’re under contract.]
Once we go under contract, my focus is on making sure we pass inspection and that my client always knows what happens next so those last few steps in the pipeline are literally just one email with the exception of the “Closed” step because Faith (my transaction coordinator) does everything else.
This is what happens when one of my buyers signs a VIP agreement and I move them to the “Buyer Listing Taken” step in my pipeline:
The program automatically adds them to my “Current Clients” bucket and then it reminds to update their property search. Then it prompts me to send them a “welcome” email with their homework, send an email to the referrer to thank them, mail a handwritten note and then schedule showings.
Those are all the things I always intend to do but used to forget to do when I have a new client, so by having Contactually remind me, I can do them really quickly and not have to worry about it again until one of their tasks comes up on my dashboard again.
You’re probably going to ask if the emails are sent automatically and the answer is you CAN (in my pipelines, some of them are automatic, but most are not).
For example, in the referral email, the template says “Woohoo! Just wanted to let you know that [PERSON] hired me and I’m so excited to get to work for them.”
When I log into my Contactually dashboard in the mornings, there are “approvals” that are the emails with templates, and I just change the bracketed text and hit send… It takes like 30 seconds to approve all of the emails.
Here’s another program that’s attached to my seller closings…
After we close, Contactually drafts an email to thank them, an email to send to the referrer, reminds me to update their new mailing address, switches the buckets they belong to, reminds me to tag them and then waits a week to remind me to ask them for a referral. Another week later, I call to check in again and lastly, I remove them from the pipeline all together.
I literally never have to think about giving my clients an incredible experience because it’s all systemized and automated… and I can blow their mind without overwhelming them or myself.
The 13-page workbook that I created for you will help you break down each of the steps in your pipeline and assign action items to it.
It’s totally free and you can get it right here:
Create A Deal In Contactually’s Pipelines
[MANUAL STEP — Estimated Time: 15 Seconds]
Since Zapier is going to create a task for you to remind you to create a deal, you don’t have to think about this until it actually happens as long as you make a habit of clearing your Contactually dashboard on a daily basis, you’ll never forget to do this… and luckily, it takes literally 2 seconds to do.
To create a deal in pipelines, you’ll go into the person’s contact profile in the bottom right corner and create a deal like this:
Deals are how you add people to pipelines and once you add them to your “Appointment Scheduled” step in the pipeline, the programs begin triggering.
Move Them Through The Pipeline On A Daily Basis
[MANUAL STEP — Estimated Time: Depends On # Of Tasks In Your Programs]
I REPEAT: There’s a caveat to making this whole client onboarding process work…
You actually have to do the work. every. single. day.
That means you’ll need to log in each day to update your pipelines (create deals and move people from one step to the next) and make a habit of clearing your dashboard.
My commitment to myself is to clear my Contactually dashboard every. single. day. NO EXCUSES.
That means when I don’t feel like it, I still clear my dashboard and update my pipelines.
When I get busy, I still clear my dashboard and update my pipelines.
Contactually (or whatever other CRM you might decide to use) should be the main course of your business, not a side piece.
The more pieces of your business you can do directly IN the system, the more likely you are to use the system and do it every day.
Whatever you do, log in every day to clear your dashboard and make a habit of updating your pipelines.
The initial setup can be overwhelming, but once you set it up and start making it a habit, you’ll have a new found peace of mind.
If you noticed, under each of the steps here, I mentioned whether it was set it and forget it or if you actually needed to do the steps…
Most of it was set it and forget it… There were only two that required you to actually do the work and this is one of them.
Here’s my daily practice for Contactually:
And here’s how I organize the system to work for both of my businesses:
Before I lose you…
Technology should empower you, not replace you… and that’s exactly what this client onboarding process does.Technology should empower you, not replace you. Click To Tweet
Whenever I talk about this to people who’ve never dealt with automation before, they’re like “well why doesn’t it make the phone calls for you? Why doesn’t it ___?”
You still have to actually do work or else your clients wouldn’t need you.
The point here is to simplify, systemize and automate as much of your client onboarding process as you can so you can grow without you getting overwhelmed and without sacrificing quality.
In addition, you keep your database organized and updated almost effortlessly because you’re doing it in bite-sized amounts on a daily basis.
You might also be thinking you don’t need to set all of this up because none of these small tasks take that long.
With that in mind, I want to ask you something…
What made you decide to read this post in the first place?
Probably because you’re bogged down in administrative tasks that “don’t take that long” but are still overwhelming you and stressing you out… and most of those annoying tasks probably fall under this client onboarding process.
Think of every admin task that you have to remember to do as a mosquito in your office.
One mosquito is annoying but if you can kill it, you’ll be good… but what do you do when you can’t leave the office and there are a whole bunch of mosquitos?
No, the answer is NOT burn the whole office.
Find a way to catch them and kill them the most efficient way possible.
Automation and systemization is the bug zapper to your administrative mosquitos.
No matter how simple the task might be, if you don’t have to think about it, that’s more stress OFF of your plate that you don’t have to worry about and your clients feel like you’re giving them a rockstar experience.
If you’re like “oh man, that’s a lot of work… I don’t see the point of all of that”, here’s what your workflow would like if you decided NOT to automate:
- Client reaches out to you
- You go back and forth to coordinate a time that works for both of you (probably 3-5 texts or emails and wasted time)
- You create the event in your calendar and invite them if you remember
- If you remember, you send them an email before you meet with any relevant info and onboarding packages
- You confirm the meeting the morning of
- If they reschedule, start over
- If they don’t reschedule, you go on the appointment or have the call
- They decide to work with you so you have them sign your new client agreement
- They leave, all excited to get started… and there’s no system in place to KEEP their engagement high
- You manually follow-up when you can but you feel like you’re drowning because you have soooo much stuff to do. You just touched base with them a few days ago… It’s totally fine if you skip this follow up, right?
- Your follow-up is sporadic throughout your time together and there’s no real structure to it but you still get to closing of the deal or completion of the project
- Even if you close the deal, you’re probably not going to get the referrals that you deserve and you go on your merry way to start all over again
Instead, here’s what we basically just did:
- Automated: Your prospect ended up at your landing page either because of your marketing, because of a referral or because you sent them there
- Automated: They booked an appointment and received a confirmation with any other instructions you want them to complete before your meeting
- Automated: Zapier added them to Contactually and bucketed them so you have a “confirm appointment” reminder set for the morning of the meeting
- Automated: Since your “Appointment” bucket (category) is attached to the “Appointment Created” program (plan), Contactually automatically adds your person to the Appointment program
- Manual: You add them to your pipeline (which takes precisely 5 seconds) and completed any client specific prep work for your appointment from your follow-up plan, but since you have templates for everything, this is quick too
- Manual: You go on the appointment and they decide to work with you beause of your professionalism
- Both: In the mornings, you log into Contactually to update your pipelines and then go to your dashboard to complete any tasks that show up for ALL of your clients, which includes this client
- Once you close or finish the project, they’ve had such a great experience AND you remember to ask for referrals, so they GLADLY send them and your business continues to grow, almost on autopilot
- Oh, and because you have a reminder set, you remember to add them to your long term nurture campaign, so you continue your messaging in a systematic way so you’re ALWAYS top of mind and when they’re ready to become a repeat client, they wouldn’t DREAM of working with anyone else because you’re their go-to person.
The second client onboarding process is less stressful, done mostly on autopilot and you really only have to update your pipelines, clear your dashboard and go on your appointments.
Your brain will be so much less cluttered when you eliminate the small stupid stuff that you shouldn’t have to do anyways.
You didn’t get this far in the post to click away and totally forget what you just read.
Learning for the sake of learning will NEVER get you results.
Learning for the sake of doing is where breakthroughs happen.