Once you have successfully attracted a new client, you will want to formally welcome your client into your practice. It is important to gather as much information about that client as possible without making it a task for your client.
I suggest that first you have a lengthy phone or email conversation asking the following questions to get started:
- Be sure to know the name your client prefers to use and the correct spelling
- Your client’s email address
- Your client’s website address
- Business name and address
- Business phone numbers, including cell phone, business phone number, fax number
- The best time to call if you have questions about a project
- Immediate priorities
- Date to expect initial information for the project and when you will begin projects
- Agree upon the hourly rate and confirm
- Discuss the billing plan and due date for invoices you send
- Discuss the number of hours your client would like you to spend on his/her projects per month
- If you will be making travel arrangements, ask about preferences for airlines, hotels and rental cars.
Worksheet – Your New Client
Client’s Name: _____________________________________________________
Email address: _____________________________________________________
Business name: ____________________________________________________
Business phone number: _____________________________________________
Business fax number: _______________________________________________
Mobile phone number: _______________________________________________
Business address: __________________________________________________
Home phone number: _______________________________________________
The best time to call if you have questions about a project: _________________
Number of hours your client would like you to
spend on his/her projects per month: __________________________________
Hourly rate / Retainer rate / Retainer hours: _____________________________
Billing plan and due date for invoices VA services: ________________________
Immediate priorities: ________________________________________________
If you will be making travel arrangements, ask about preferences for airlines, hotels and rental cars.
Follow up With Your New Client
Send an Introduction/Contract Letter
Clients need to get the impression that you exist for them solely. They are #1 in your book. Start gaining the trust in the very beginning. As in the warm letters, you want to express your personality and so you need to develop your very own personal letter to your new client. I’ve provided ideas, but strongly encourage you to use your uniqueness to create your letter. It is not essential that every paragraph in this letter be included, but I have found that my clients have responded very positively to the letter.
Dear New Client:
Paragraph #1: I am truly excited about our working together. Explain why here…what specifically are you excited to work on…restate some of the projects you spoke about in your interviewing conversations. Reiterate that you consider the partnership to be a win/win for both of you and what your objective is in partnering with your new client. Obviously, your client’s business success is paramount in your mind, right? I look forward to assisting you in accomplishing exactly what you want.
Paragraph #2: Tell about your business hours, include the time zone. Remember, we are virtual! What will you do when you are going to be out for an extended period of time – on vacation.
Paragraph #3: Cover emergency project policies up front. What if your new client needs it “today?” Ever hear that before? Tell your new client how you will handle these situations. Maybe something like, “I will do all that I can to help you get it done.” If you client needs to reach you quickly, tell what the best way to do that would be: ICQ, telephone, email, fax?
Paragraph #4: Restate agreed upon fees: As we agreed, my fee will be $## per hour. From this time forward, I will be billing you for time spent on your behalf. As we discussed, you will advise me of a monthly “budget” to work on your projects. I will inform you when I reach the allotted time and you may determine whether I should continue working additional hours and how many for a particular month.
Paragraph #5: Explain about expenses such as long distance telephone costs on behalf of your new client, postage, etc. The invoice total will reflect the actual time I’ve worked and expenses. I do not send receipts for expenses. My invoice is your receipt. I invoice on the ?? day of the month and payment is due on the ?? day of the next month. It is important that your payment is prompt. The invoice will be sent by email.
Paragraph #6: I want you to know that I do use an electronic time clock to keep client hours. When I “clock in” to your project, be assured that all of that time is specifically spent on your projects. I do not provide hard copies of my time, our relationship is based on trust and I guarantee that every hour billed is an hour spent on you. I will include a summary of the projects I’ve worked on for you during the month.
Paragraph #7: Restate that you work for yourself, that you own your business, are independent, pay your own taxes, work from your own office, use your own equipment, set your own hours, and bill for your services. We are equals.
Paragraph #8: Explain what you think should happen if either of you need to change the relationship. Since you cannot foresee all of the “what if’s” it is best to have an understanding of the necessity of open communication and honesty between the two of you. Make sure that you explain that you want to communicate to create a win/win situation for both of you.
Paragraph #9: Go the extra mile and even tell your new client that if you ever say or do something which upsets the client, that they should be sure to bring it up. Be honest, open, and professional in fixing whatever it is that is creating tension in the relationship.
Paragraph #10: Be sure to explain that everything you do for your client is strictly confidential and whatever your client shares with you will be kept confidential. Except, of course, information you use on behalf of your client. However, you do want your client to talk about your working relationship with your client and you should tell him/her that that is okay. This could be a source of possible referrals for more business for you, especially if you are WoWing your client!
Note: If your client is new to working with virtual assistants, you might want to suggest they get a copy of “How to Hire and Work Successfully With a Virtual Assistant” which includes many tips on efficient communication, the trust issue, how to save hours working with a VA, tips on how to begin working with a VA and many other common virtual assistant partnership questions and answers. Your new client can purchase it at www.yourvirtualresource.com/workwithava.htm
My contact information is:
- Email address:
- Website address:
- Mailing address:
- Phone number:
- FAX number:
Please ask if you have any questions about our agreement.