Client management before and after you work with your clients can either make or break the project not just for yourself but also for your clients. You can make sure you’re only booking the right projects for you and help ensure your clients give you amazing testimonials once the project is over with great client management. However, getting your management systems set up doesn’t have to take ages.
Both of us have learned so much about client management systems both before and after the project is over from Erin Flynn and her workshops, so we are really excited to be chatting with her today about the importance of these kinds of systems, what they can do for your projects, and how to position yourself as an expert in the design field.
Why onboarding systems are so important
Erin isn’t afraid to share that she’s had nightmare clients, but she feels pretty strongly that most of them were nightmares because she didn’t onboard or manage them properly, which means they ended up walking all over her and making her feel miserable. This is why she thinks it’s so important to have your onboarding systems in place. It sets up the whole entire project either for success or failure. If you have a bad onboarding process for whatever reason, it’s going to be harder to have a good project overall.
After she had several nightmare clients, Erin started revising her onboarding process to help avoid that from happening again. This is around the time when she started utilizing the Intro and Welcome packets, which reduced a lot of questions she was getting and almost always gave her a reference point if things started going wrong during the project.
Both of us have taken Erin’s workshops on Intro and Welcome packets, and Krista in particular can attest to the fact that having them in place definitely helps the onboarding process, and it makes it a lot easier to deal with things if the client has different expectations about something during the project.
What client management looks like before the project
Erin says that the most important thing you can do before the project is screen your client. While she doesn’t believe in the “perfect, ideal client,” she does think that if you don’t have a specific idea of who you want to work with, you set yourself up to work with just anyone, which can potentially set the project up for frustration: either you’re not excited about the project or you have two totally different communication styles, for example.
She also admits that this can be hard to do when you’re new, and we totally agree. When you need the work, sometimes you just have to compromise. However, it’s all about learning which personalities you work the best with.
What client management looks like after the project
Since Erin had so much success with sending her clients Intro and Welcome packets, it should come as no surprise that she also has a Goodbye packet. She thinks it’s important to end your project with something like this that includes tutorials on how to manage their website, branding with notes on how and where to use their logo, resources to help them with services you don’t offer, and a special note of what else you can be hired for now that the project is over.
Even after giving them all of that information, though, she still thinks it’s important to follow up with her clients within 30 days of their website launch. This is a great time to see if they have any questions. Then she follows up every 3 months or so to make sure her clients not only know she’s still there to answer any questions, but also that she’s available to do more work for them if they need her.
Common mistakes designers make with client management
One of the main mistakes Erin sees clients make is that they work with their clients to launch a website, but they don’t bother to then let them know that they’re also available for other services. A perfect example of this is anyone who also does website maintenance. If you don’t tell your clients that you also offer this service, they’ll assume you don’t, and likely go find someone else who does and hire that person.
She also makes a really great point that doing this and getting your past clients coming back for more is such an awesome way to help you build stronger relationships while avoiding having to constantly be on the hunt for new clients. However, you have to remember to give them the heads up that you’re still available after their main project is over.
How Erin established herself as an expert in the design field
While Erin would love to tell us there’s a magic trick to this, she says that when it comes right down to it, she thinks making the mistakes she did early on in her business, documenting them, and sharing them on her blog with fellow designers is what helped her become known as an expert in the design field. People could see where she started, that she had experienced a similar problem, and also how she overcame it. This made a big difference in people trusting that she knew what she was talking about.
We both couldn’t agree more with her. Both of us always feel that people who share their experiences openly like that are so much more relatable. We also learn the best from them, which makes us want to keep coming back to their blog for more.
If you’re ready to revisit and rework your client management systems or work on becoming more well-known, Erin has some great tips for you:
- Sit down and write out your processes. Know what’s going to happen every step of the way so you can better answer your clients’ questions and never feel like you’re lost during the project.
- Work on networking either though Skype chats or going to conferences. Erin sets a goal to try to connect with a minimum of three new people per month, and that’s a great starting point when you’re trying to get your name out there more.
Learn More About Erin
Erin has been making websites since 1999, and started her own web design and development company in 2012. After a few years creating websites for clients, Erin shifted her business. Now, her primary business is helping other designers and developers navigate the difficult waters of entrepreneurship by providing courses and guides to teach everything from how to start a web design business to how to deal with nightmare clients.