When I first started my business in 2014, not having systems was hurting not only my bottom line, but my day to day enjoyment of my business. Clients stressed me out, I always felt so frazzled, nothing was lining up. The first major change I made was to start using HoneyBook which streamlined my business a ton and I got hooked on tools that could automate my business. I’ve made so many changes to my business in the last 7 years but there have been a few that really stand out as making the biggest impact. They helped me to give my clients a better experience and being a service provider, that’s the core of my business and what keeps it going! Are you feeling stuck in your own processes? Let’s dive in to stir up some new ideas!
Strict Start and End Dates
One of the first changes I made when I started looking at my process was implementing strict start and end dates in my calendar for client projects. It’s very standard in the website industry to have a window of time to complete work. But I was finding my clients (and myself) losing motivation because every timeline seemed never ending. We’d be working for weeks together and not knowing when they’d launched messed with their marketing and my calendar.
A mentor and friend suggested I try padded timelines (which worked so well with my chronic illness) and strict end dates. That way, we knew when we’d launch by and our momentum never slowed. It also allowed me to create my project calendar the year before so I could easily set income goals and know how many clients I needed to book and when I was booked out.
To make sure we stayed on time, I added a clause to my contract stating the client transfers to hourly pay if we exceed the end date because of a lack of communication. I’m also clear if the delay is on my end for any reason, they won’t owe additional money. It’s been clear and I’ve only had to go over the main timeline in the last 5 years 3 times. It’s been a lifesaver!
You may be thinking, saying no is a system? Well it can be! I try to be as transparent as humanly possible when interacting with clients and potential clients. This includes letting potential clients know after we speak if I think I’m the best fit for their project or not. I used to say yes to every single inquiry and I wasn’t always the one who should be doing their project. It led to super unhappy clients and made pulling myself out of that difficult. How do you draw more ideal work if your portfolio and clients don’t align with what you love to do?
Saying no can be tough when you really need the money or experience as a new business owner. There’s no shame in that! But once you start figuring out what works best for you and the client, saying no leaves room for more ideal projects. I always felt so bad at first when I’d say no and never knew what to say to be kind but firm. Here’s where my system changes come in!
The first thing I did was make an email template to say no. This can be before or after a call because sometimes, we know we’re not the right fit before even getting on a discovery call. Having the right words every time made me feel so much more confident in my decision. The next thing I did was grow my network. Having a list of amazing references I trusted helped that person find the right person. Make sure to have a range of styles and price points! These changes made it so much easier to say no kindly and move on.
Repeatable Client Process
The single biggest change I made was creating a client process I could repeat over and over again. It not only made it easier to not miss anything, but I was confident in the results my process gets my clients! All of my website projects have 4 phases: strategy, design, development, and launch. No matter how big or small the website is, we’ll go through those 4 phases every time. I also learned a lot from Bre of Rowan Made and setup all my client dashboard in Asana! I’ve expanded on what she taught since website timelines work differently than branding but it’s been a gamechanger.
My clients not only know what I need from them but they know what to expect and what I’m working on. Our communication is all done in Asana, eliminating a million emails back and forth. There’s a place to quickly find links, files, and everything we need for the project. Using Asana has been a huge help and keeps us on track for timelines that can span multiple months.
I hope you’re feeling inspired and are ready to build your own systems! If you have any questions or would like some one-on-one help with your own processes, let me know! I’m happy to chat!