You’ve done the marketing, you’ve filled your funnel and the phone starts ringing – you’ve got a new client! Now what?
you are a consultant, coach, virtual assistant or other type of service
provider, it’s important to insure you start off your client
You don’t want to let the exhilaration of
signing a new (or your first) client get in the way of sound business
practice. There are three ways I recommend you protect yourself when
dealing with clients.
1. Have a contract or client agreement.
should have some form of contract or client agreement which states, at
a minimum, your work hours, your hourly fee (if you charge by the
hour), payment terms, a statement regarding confidentiality, your
status as an independent contractor, an “out” clause (e.g., either
party may terminate the agreement with 14 days notice) and any other
data that you feel pertinent (such as an arbitration clause).
you choose to have a contract or client agreement, it is in your best
interest to insure that your client signs and returns it before any
work is performed – remember to send your client a signed copy back.
2. Create Client Service Plans.
you’re not sure how many hours a client will require each month, you
may want to consider creating “Client Service Plans” which allows
clients to know they have purchased a certain amount of your time for
any given month.
For example, if you are a coach, you could
charge $X/month for three 30-minute calls and email support. Or
$Y/month for three 45-minute calls and email support.
If you are
a virtual assistant, you could charge $X per hour for clients who
commit to using 40 hours/month and $Y per hour for clients who commit
to using 20 hours/month. Each set of hours/pricing would be a separate
plan – Platinum, Gold and Silver, for example, where Platinum clients
commit to the most hours and Silver clients the least.
afraid to tailor your plans to your specific business and your clients.
It’s important that they know you can be flexible while still
maintaining your internal standards.
3. Require a deposit or get paid in advance.
makes good business sense to require a deposit before you start work
for new clients. The deposit doesn’t need to be prohibitive, but just
enough to guarantee that you are paid at least something for your work
if the client decides to try and stiff you.
Most coaches I know
are paid in advance of the month. For example, clients pay at the end
of November for December’s coaching. Many virtual assistants require a
percentage deposit at the beginning of each month and credit it on the
The above strategies are not mutually exclusive. I use
all three to a certain degree in my business along with a “Client
Intake Form” that I’ve created. This allows me to learn something about
the client before we’ve had our first session.
I include all of
this information in my Client Welcome Kit along with a one-page
informational sheet indicating how I best work. This allows us each to
determine if our work styles mesh – thus creating a win/win situation
In the end, it’s about creating expectations and insuring that both parties are happy with the arrangement.
Leading small business expert Sandra Martini is the "Automatic Business Coach." Sandra delivers simple proven, yet innovative, ways entrepreneurs can implement processes and systems to create a waiting list of clients while giving them more money, time, and freedom in their businesses. For free articles, free resources and to sign up for her free audio mini-seminar "5 Quick & Easy Ways to Put Your Marketing on Autopilot" visit www.SandraMartini.com.