“Do you run a small business? Do you have a pulse? If you answered yes to either of these, you may be the perfect client for us! We don’t even know your name, but we can definitely do whatever it is that you want us to do.”
While you may not have stooped to this level, most entrepreneurs are delighted to bring in new clients. It’s an exciting process because it means the business is growing and stands to make more money. The problem with this perspective (and we all intuitively know this) is that jumping into a relationship too fast can ruin its potential from the start.
What is Onboarding?
“Creating an initial entry customer experience that sets you apart from other loser firms.” Jason Blumer
If you were to search “onboarding” you’d see that most people use the term to talk about how a business plans to bring new hirees up to date with their internal processes. Here in THRIVEal, we’re applying that idea to bringing on new clients or customers. Typically these two types of onboarding look very different, but maybe we should examine those differences and innovate.
Jason’s 3 step process:
-note: I’ll list the client step and then the hiree equivalent (in parenthesis)
- Vetting the client (Interview)
- Initial contact is made. It’s time to negotiate pricing and discover if the relationship will truly benefit both parties.
- The owner or “closer” must conduct this step.
- Welcome to the family! (You’re hired!)
- This is where enthusiasm and character should shine through.
- Information is obtained but becoming a cold technician must be avoided.
- A designated “Onboarder” is preferable for this role.
- Get to work (Get to work)
- Work. Self explanatory.
- The point of listing this is to note that the prior steps should minimize re-asking initial information.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
There are people already doing this! Meet Meilnda Guillemette
, the onboarder for Blumer & Associates, CPAs
. In a recent THRIVEal Community Call she shared one of the keys to implementing this process: we must avoid slipping into the role of a technician. As CPAs, most THRIVEal members THRIVE on counting beans and pushing calculator buttons (sorry to out you guys). More generally, entrepreneurs are predisposed to becoming technicians (source: Gerber, E-Myth). If we can resist these urges and focus on developing relationships with new clients, they will get a taste of what our firm is all about. Melinda called this “telling your firm’s story.” It has the power to become a significant differentiator for any business.
Jason also had some valuable insight on the call. He outlined something called the “Blumer Sucks Process.” It’s the way he formerly brought in new work and you may recognize it as the current process in your firm. It essentially skips past step 2 and jumps quickly into the 3rd “work” step. Once this happens the ball can start rolling very fast, causing a higher chance for data to be forgotten or lost. Jason suggests slowing down between step 1 and step 2 allowing for a more deliberate review of the coming situation. This will not only allow for better data collection, it can facilitate a new environment where trust is developed more naturally by both parties.
At Blackwell, CPA
we’ve been brainstorming ideas like gathering clients for onboarding retreats or creating a gift bundle with books. Leave a comment for a discussion on further ways to push the idea further.
After graduating from Auburn University in 2009, John Blackwell returned to his hometown of Orlando, Florida to join his father Terry at Blackwell CPA. Terry founded the firm in 1986 and with the help of John, the father son team is focused on serving customers in innovative ways. John is also a member of the THRIVEal CPA Network.