Onboarding Clients like a Boss - No More Flaky Clients | Nick Armstrong | Skillshare

Onboarding Clients like a Boss - No More Flaky Clients

Nick Armstrong, I make marketing FUN.

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8 Lessons (41m)
    • 1. Intro: No More Flaky Clients

      2:43
    • 2. Vetting Clients - Build alignment and understanding

      5:29
    • 3. Turning Down Potential Clients

      6:37
    • 4. Fix Your Contracts

      6:41
    • 5. 5 Things To Ask When You’ve Signed The Contract

      3:34
    • 6. Fix Your Project Management

      9:33
    • 7. Fix Your Follow Up

      3:13
    • 8. Summary

      2:54

About This Class

40% of freelancers entered December with overdue client invoices averaging $2,850 (source: Freshbooks)

Are you one of them? 

Doing the math, that makes a whopping total of $64.7 BILLION dollars of unpaid work for the estimated 56.7 million freelancers in the US. Outside the US the unpaid invoice percentage goes up to 58% (source: Paypal)

How do we ensure we have more good, paying clients than flaky, forgetful ones? How do we build defenses against onboarding flaky clients to begin with?

The answer: build better onboarding processes for working with new clients.

How much time, frustration, and heartache could you save yourself if you didn’t have to chase your clients to pay?

How much time, frustration, and heartache could you save yourself if your onboarding process prevented you from signing contracts with flaky clients at all?

Over the span of this class, I’m going to teach you how to build an onboarding system to:

  1. Get you paid on time most of the time
  2. Develop strong communication habits with your clients from day 1
  3. Thrill your best clients so more of them renew with you

How? We’re going to fix:

  1. How you vet your clients:
    1. What to ask, how to ask it, and how to ensure you have alignment and understanding
    2. Who is the decision-maker, who writes the checks?
    3. Knowing your client’s goals up-front and incorporating those into the contract with clear deliverables
    4. Knowing when to show potential bad clients the door
  2. We’re going to fix your contracts:
    1. Establish a contract to begin with (duh)
    2. Set payment terms, dates, consequences, and payment methods up-front
    3. Gather new client contact info inside the contract
    4. Outline your deliverables and timelines clearly in the contract
    5. Create a method for handling out-of-scope work/scope creep
    6. Create a method for firing your clients if they get flaky
  3. We’re going to fix your project management:
    1. Set up a system to keep up with your clients as soon as they hire you (I like Airtable and go through a full walkthrough in this lesson)
    2. Set up reporting so your clients always know what’s next
    3. Set up clear documentation so that if you DO have to go to court, you won’t be empty-handed
  4. We’re going to fix your follow-up systems:
    1. Set up a system to send out gifts and reminders to your clients of important events
    2. Identify upselling opportunities from the get-go so you know what your client will need for years to come
    3. Actually follow-up with your referrers and best clients on a regular basis

If you’re ready, let’s get started!

Who is this guy and how does he know about freelancing?
I’m Nick Armstrong: the Geek-in-Chief behind WTF Marketing, dad, author, Ignite, PechaKucha, Startup Week, and TEDx speaker, audio drama enthusiast, and award-winning entrepreneur. Through WTF Marketing and partner organizations, I’ve served a wide array of happy clients ranging from mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 100’s. I’ve co-organized community events like Fort Collins Comic Con, Startup Week Fort Collins, TEDxFoCo, Ignite Fort Collins, LaidOffCamp/CareerCamp, PodCamp Fort Collins, and more. My local efforts landed me a prestigious spot as one of BizWest’s 40 Under Forty for 2016 
and the Colorado Association of Libraries' Library Community Partnership Award in 2018.

Transcripts

1. Intro: No More Flaky Clients: According to fresh books, 40% of freelancers in the U. S. Entered December 2018 with about $2800 of unpaid client invoices. Were you one of those freelancers? If you apply that math to the entire US freelancer workforce of 57 million, that makes for 65 billion with a B $65 billion of unpaid client work. That is a lot of flaky clients. So how do we make sure that we have more good paying clients than the forgetful, flaky ones? How do we build our defenses against on boarding flaky clients to begin with? Well, I think that the answer lies at least partly in building. Better on boarding process is when you bring on a new client how much time and frustration and heartache could you save yourself if you didn't have to chase your clients to pay you every month? How much time and frustration of heart it? Could you save yourself if you didn't onboard flaky clients to begin with if they never even got a chance to sign the contract? That's what I'm gonna teach you how to do in this class. I'm gonna teach you how to build a better on boarding system so that you can get paid on time more regularly so that you can have better communication habits with your clients from day one so that they never are left guessing where you're at or what you're doing or how far along in a project you're. And finally, I'm gonna also teach you how to thrill your best clients so that they hire you and retain you for more work than what you originally hired for. How are we gonna do that? Well, first, we're gonna fix how you vet your clients. We're gonna talk about what to ask how to ask it and how to know when a client isn't appropriate on board and what to do in that situation. Then we're gonna talk about your contracts if you have a contract. If you don't have to work on that, then we're gonna talk about what to ask when you onboard your clients so that you set them up for success with your project management systems. Then we're gonna talk about how to follow up with your clients once they're on board, and once you've done the work so that you can get more work from them in the future, especially if you know that they're really good paying clients. Your very first assignment in this class is to introduce yourself to your fellow students. We have all been there. There is no embarrassment here in having had a flaky client. Every one of us, that is freelanced has had the flaky clients for is my business. I'll introduce myself right now. I'm Mick Armstrong from WTF Marketing. I've been freelancing as a marketing consultant for about 10 years. Along the way, I've learned a lot of things that I think I can help you with in this class, so I can't wait to get started. So introduce yourself, Introduce your business in the comments section. Can't wait to hear from you. 2. Vetting Clients - Build alignment and understanding: no project or task that you were given will ever be about the end. Deliver ble itself. If you're tasked with creating a logo or a website or creating an app, it's not good enough just to check the box and say, Oh, here's your logo. It's done. Here's your spreadsheet. Here's your app. Here's your copy for your website. It's not good enough. You have to understand the bigger picture business reason that they're hiring you to do this work. What is the big picture thing that they're trying to accomplish? That's one of the first things that I asked my clients when I onboard them is. What is it that you were hoping to accomplish with this work? Once it's done, what are you hoping this gives you the ability to achieve? If you understand that concept, you're going to be able to deliver a much more cohesive, elegant thing. Whatever it is that they have hired you to do, and especially when it comes time to the delivery meeting itself, you're going to understand the entire concept of the business. The reason that they hired you. You can say I think that this deliver verbal, whatever it is that you delivered will help you achieve your goals off whatever they set their goals were. If you haven't asked those questions, then you're not gonna be able to have that cohesive conversation, and they might still give you a good review. They might still pay your invoice. They might still, you know, think of you kindly. However, when it comes to getting more work from that same client, you might not get it. Or if you have totally missed the mark of their bigger picture business vision, they may not pay you. That's when they start getting flakey because, oh, well, this really didn't tick off all of the boxes that we're hoping to get. You didn't really understand the concept, and that's when they start eating flaky. You don't want that. What you want the conversation go like is I understand your business goals, and I understand your bigger picture concept for this project, and I have delivered a whatever that hits all of those metrics and all of those marks, and it starts with a really simple question of what are you hoping to accomplish with this work? Once it's done. The other key component to on boarding a client is understanding the scope of the work does the scope of the work. Plus, they're bigger picture vision. Match your abilities. Can you actually do the work that they're asking to Dio? And if you can't, that's perfectly OK. But knowing that you have to bounce on that work and say Sorry, it really I can't do that work in the way that you're hoping for. But here are three of my competitors who conduce that work for you. Knowing that it's not a good fit between the scope and their big picture vision and your abilities and skills is a really mature thing, and it will get you hired for other things may not get you this current project, but it will get you the ability to work on other projects that might beam or in your scope . In addition to understanding the big picture goals of the project, you should also understand what the scope of the budget is and their timeline. If the timeline and the budget, along with your skills don't line up together, then it's not a project that you can take on, and the responsible choice at that point is just to turn it down. Finally, understand the team that you're working with. It's really important as a first step when your on boarding a new client to understand the team, Who is it going to be? That's giving you assignments? Who is it going to be that's paying your checks or signing the checks? And do those two people, if they're two different people, have disparate goals that need to be aligned? Can you meet with both of them on a regular basis and make sure that everything is still going as planned? Are you going to be test with working with an entire team? Who in that team can change your scope Where your deliver bols, who in that team can change up the work that you're doing or tell you that something isn't good enough? If you don't know the answers to those questions when you start a project when you finish a project or have to chase payment from somebody, it's gonna be a lot more difficult to have those conversations. I would also encourage you to connect with the entire team of people that you're going to be working with on a regular basis, not only does this humanize you to the team, make it harder to not pay you. Because if the entire team knows and likes you, then it's gonna be a lot harder to not sign that. Check if your project intersex across teams that might be a big ask. Or if your project is really tiny really small in scope, you might just need to please the CMO or the CEO or whoever it is that you're talking to. So your project for this particular lesson is to go through your client list. Look at what deliver Bols, you've been asked to deliver and see if you understand the bigger picture concept that there after. Do you actually know that information? If not, you need to start asking your clients now because there is time right now while you're still in your project. If you haven't delivered it yet, there's time where you can stop. Ask them What is the bigger picture Goal. I really want to make sure I nail this deliverable for you. I really want to make sure I nail this project for you. What is it that I can do to make it even better and go beyond, you know, just the specifications. How can I make this a really big win for your company or for your team? If you ask those questions, it's very difficult to get flaky on a freelancer who actually cares so much about your business that they are willing to understand and take on the bigger picture business goals for themselves as well. Not just check off a box up. The logos done with websites done. Ask those questions. It's really hard to get flaky with fewer Does that in the next lesson, we're gonna talk about how to vet out those questions and details so that you understand the right way to turn down a client when it's time to do that. 3. Turning Down Potential Clients: there are at least five good reasons to turn down new client work. Ah, mismatching budget. A mismatch in expectations. A mismatching timeline, a mismatch in what your ability is to deliver on the scope of work or things that you have heard and or intuition. Now that last one's kind of tricky, and it takes some experience to really sort of vet out. Oh, these people aren't going to pay me right from the initial meeting. And sometimes you're wrong. You get a false positive or something that they have said, you know, triggers some other bad experience that you've had. And you've just decided that you can't work with him. I'm not gonna worry about that last one. What I will tell you is that right after what are you hoping to accomplish with this project? What I start asking them is, Well, what's your budget? And along with that question, I always give my price range, I say. So what's your budget for this work typically for a logo website, Whatever. I charge between this and this and low end and high end and I give them a range, so they know that I'm either outside of their budget completely, or they know that I am inside of their budget and it's okay to proceed with this conversation. There's no guilt. There's no bad feelings. If they have a budget that's too small to work with me, I also can tell them if it's somebody that I really do want to work with and there we know that they're going to be on the lower end of the budget or it's somebody who's project is really cool and I want to support him. That's great. I do tell them, Hey, by the way, I normally charge this, but you can tell me what range that works for you and I can see if there's a way that I can make it work doesn't exclude them, doesn't make them feel bad if they have a lower budget, and especially if they have come to you with that caveat of like, you know, I don't I don't know how much budget for this. I don't know what I'm gonna pay for this. All of those things those fears could be alleviated with Okay, this is the range. Normally, what do you guys have to work with? Let me tell you if there's something that I can do for you. That conversation makes that set up go so smooth, and it leads to more amicable agreements when it comes to payments because the realistic expectations air set from the beginning, I do the same thing with the timeline. Normally, for a product like this, it'll take between this and this, I give them a range again because they might have. It needs to get done yesterday project, or they might have no definitive timeline set that when they say I don't know when it needs to get completed by can tend to be a red flag. For me, it means they might not have a budget set for it, or it could also mean that they don't have a specific big picture vision in mind. And that is worrying because that means that they're not really committed to getting the work done to begin with. When it comes to the other concerns that aren't intuition. If I have done my due diligence and asking, what is the timeline? What is the budget and what are your big picture goals? If I know myself well enough, I can say my skills are not what you need for my services or not what you need. That's a responsible choice. And I can confidently tell them, You know, you don't need to work with me on this. You should be working with so and so because they will much better be able to fit your needs. And that could be I don't serve their niche. Or it could be I don't do marketing in the way that they're hoping to do marketing. Or it could be you don't code in that particular language or it could be you don't write in that particular style. Any of those are perfectly valid reasons to turn down client work, And that can be a painful thing for you internally, like home. And I could really use that money for something, something, something. It was so much more painful to take on the wrong kind of client work and do it badly than it is to tell them no on the offset and just go after a better client. A trick that I love to use is a mini project. If I'm on the fence about a client, either, I've heard interesting things about them from my fellow freelancers or I've never heard of them before and they're in my community. And that's odd because I'm pretty well connected. You might be pretty well connected in your community. You don't know somebody you want to vet them out. You don't want to jump fully into, ah brand new project without having some sort of introductory project. So what I like to do is if I'm really on the fence about working with somebody and they want to hire me for a big project, I'll take on a very small and ill defined a very small scope for an introductory project so that we can get to know each other. And that's a protection eri measure for you, and it's a protection we measure for them. It gets you on the same pace about working together. And if you discover during this mini project that they don't pay their bills on time, that they don't know what they're doing, that they don't know how to handle the many project like this or that you don't know how to work with a freelancer. Those are all great red flags, and you've only put in however much you put into the many project and you're not leak, making them on the hook for a much bigger project that they didn't want to be on the hook for. To begin with. Your project for this lesson is to go ask your friends to pitch you a project that you would like to turn down, and it doesn't matter if it's, you know, maybe the perfect fit for you or whatever. Just pretend that you've heard some flaky things about your friends. You can make him up whatever. Or if you don't like your friends, you can use their really flakiness. That's fine. Either way, what you want to do is practice, turning them down kindly and what I like to do. When I turn people down, I always refer them to a competitors or somebody who's better suited, You know, one of my friends, maybe who's in that same business? It's easy to say, Oh, you know I'm not the right person for this project, but I know who is and let me connect you with them, and then you make the connection so that you know you pass them off to your friend or your friend, me or whoever you're gonna pass them off too long as you're not doing the work that works out great. So protect yourself, protect your scope, understand their budget, their timeline, their expectations of work. They're big picture goals and what you've heard about them in the community and make the choice from there. Then practice turning people down so that it's not an awkward conversation. There are no hard feelings when it comes to business, if you are responsible if you're not responsible, if you do the irresponsible things like taking on client work that you shouldn't, that's when things get muddy, and that's when clients get flaky with you. And if you develop a reputation for taking on the wrong kinds of client work, people will be a flake early towards you, and that's not what anybody wants. And the next lesson we're gonna talk about how to fix your contracts 4. Fix Your Contracts: having a good contract is the basis of having a good business relationship with your clients. They could be the most honest, dependable people on the face of the earth, but they will still find a way to surprise you if you don't have things very clearly outlined in a contract. If you don't have a contract right now is a good time to go visit your SB A or your SPDC or your Chamber of Commerce or local fruit freelancers union. Or just visit other freelancers who are in the same industry as you and ask if they would be willing to share their contract with you. Most of them who have been in your place before would be willing to do that. Once you've got the basis of a contract down, don't plagiarize, but definitely look at the examples and use them as reference guides. Make sure that you go and take it to a lawyer because the lawyer will make sure that you are operating under the legal guidelines of your country, your county in your state. Beyond making sure that your contract is legally viable, I also like to get the contact information for any points of contact that I will be dealing with in the contract itself. So I like to get who's going to be paying me, who's going to be changing my scope of work or who can give me orders at the company. All of those people need to be in the contract, along with their name, their phone number, their email address, their preferred method of contact and their hours that they work so that I know who I can talk to, when I can talk to them and how I should be talking to them and about what. So if my check goes missing, I know exactly who I should be talking to. If I talked to somebody outside that chain of command, then it's going to create some flaky behaviour in the client. We don't need communication issues when we're not getting paid. It's just not efficient. If you have your act together, you'll get all of the content information up front so that you don't have to worry about any of this nonsense when it comes time to handling a problem and your responsible, respectful handling of a problem will go a long way to making sure that flaky behaviour is diminished in all of your clients across the board. The second thing that I like to document inside of my contracts is exactly what my delivery , bols and timeline are going to be. Your contract is a protection for your business as much. It is this for them, and if they know what you're going to be delivering, when you're going to be in touch, what you're going to be in touch about and when something is late, then they can hold you accountable to make sure that the work gets done. Or you can adjust the schedule with them as needed for things that come up. For instance, if they change the scope, or if they change something that they're doing that you are relying on, or if they're not delivering information to you, you need to be able hold them accountable as well. So it's not just your deliverables. It's their deliverables as well. If they don't give you access to the website and you can't write copy for it as a result, where you can't place your copyright, can't place your images or you can't update that whatever and they haven't done their part that needs to be in the contract to. I also specify my payment methodologies right in the contract. The client knows exactly what the payment timeline is, what they owe, what it's for and how much it's going to be and when it's considered late. Those things are really important when it comes to enforcing your legal options. If somebody decides not to pay you, if they knew what they were supposed to pay when they're supposed to pay it and when it was considered late, All of those things are burden of evidence that you have been satisfied that they knew what they were on the hook for when they signed the contract, along with when a payment is considered late. What happens if a payment is late is also good information Document right inside the contract. If you know the terms of late payments are in your state, you can use those as a default. You can also specify your own rates up to a point. There's a certain point at which ah, late fee percentage becomes you serious and the state won't let you enforce it. So what you will want to do is know what that point is, meet somewhere in the middle. It really helps to diminish flakiness if you put them on a payment schedule. If you have up front a fee that covers your initial work on the project. It's also a protection every measure I like to charge anywhere between 25 to 50% of a project, depending on the scope of the project and what I'm going to be doing. If there's a lot of upfront work, I'm gonna charge more on the heavier end of that. If there's not so much up front work, I charge on the lighter and but I still get an initial deposit to make sure that they have good faith budget that I can work with. And if they walk that I have that budget in play that I can charge my hours against and return the rest of them. I also like to outline my refund policy and what happens if a client flakes out and what I need to do in order to get payment from them? And I also liked outline who owns what in terms of rights when it comes to a project typically until I'm paid in full, I own all the rights to the work that I create, and I don't hand over those rights and tell the end of the contract when I've been paid in full. If I haven't been paid in full, I own the copyright I own, the whatever it is that I have been doing, and I don't release that to them unless it's paid in full. Also behind the scenes, I like to gather a backup payment methodology if the check is late, if they don't pay their bills, if they don't whatever And I have delivered my work, I still have the option of running their credit card, and it provides so much more peace of mind that I can still get paid even if they stop communicating with me. I still have their credit card information, and flaky clients are very, very hesitant to cancel their credit card when it turns out that they should have been paying you along. Now you should only do this if you are 100% certain that you have met the delivery Bols, you have done the work and you have given them the ability to review the work. If they have reviewed the work and they need revisions and revisions are outlined in your contract. Then you have to do the revisions or, if they have gone totally radio silent, you've delivered the work. You know that they've gotten work because you've delivered it to them in a methodology and one of their backup methodologies, and you know that they have received it then and only then. If you are ethically clear that you have done the work and they've received it, then you can charge the backup method. I don't recommend it as a first resort I recommended as a total last resort. There is no reason that you should be employing this unless there is a catastrophic failure . In the next lesson, we're gonna be talking about five questions that you should ask your clients immediately after they sign the contract. Your project for this lesson is the poster terms and conditions for payment into the project section. As a word doctor, if this is something that you are comfortable with, you could feel free to skip this particular project 5. 5 Things To Ask When You’ve Signed The Contract: on important step to avoiding flaky behaviour from clients and avoiding up non payment from clients is to make sure that you are more than just that freelancer that you are you and you were humanized in their eyes. If you are not more than an email address to them, that's a problem. So I like to ask my clients personalized questions to make sure that I know them on a deeper level than what I'm just dealing with it from them as far as work. I like to know them on a personal level. So one of the first questions I asked them is, What are some other projects that you're putting off in order to get this one accomplished ? I like to understand more of their scope of work. Why did they prioritize this particular thing? The second question I asked them is a little bit more fun. What's your favorite color? Then I asked them, What's your favorite drink or food? Then I asked him, What's your birthday? And I know it seems weird and personal to ask these questions, and all of these questions should, by the way, be asked in person as much as possible. or on a Skype or a video call so they can see your face to know that you're not like trying to steal her identity or whatever. And then I also like to ask them, What do you like to do for fun? And with that scope of question, I can sort of open up ah, window into their world that allows me to connect with them on a deeper level of ingest. Hey, can you get this done? Sure, Yeah, let it to my to do list. If you can connect with them on a more human level, it makes a lot harder to not pay you, and it makes it a lot harder to justify bad, flaky behavior. They're gonna feel really guilty about it. They're gonna want to connect with their people who are friends, and it's easier to talk to a friend and feel bad and guilty about screwing over a friend. It is to feel bad about screwing over a complete, an utter stranger, so keep that in mind. Humanize yourself, asked those questions, gets know your clients better, and then you can do more of the fun stuff like send them a birthday present or ah, gift card to their favorite restaurant or a new restaurant that's opening in town as a reminder that you exist and that if they have more projects coming up that you might want to work with them on it. Now the question comes up. Is this unethical to give a gift to a client that you've enjoyed working with? I think it depends on how you do it. If you go in with honest intent, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If you, for instance, were to go to them constantly asking for any work, do you have new projects? Do you have anything else that I can work on? That becomes tiresome? It's a drain on them. You're asking them for stuff. You're asking them to give you something if you go with a mentality of I'm giving you a gift because I really enjoyed working with you. And you know I'm still here in case you have other projects and, you know, I want to hear what you guys are up to lately, that is a much more cohesive conversation than Hey, Joni work, Joni Work, June. June more work for me that you're not ever going to get a good response out of that. It's going to be really flaky behaviour from then on out, and they're not gonna rehire you for things. If you're constantly begging there because it's desperate, right, you don't want to come off as desperate. If you come off, it's somebody who can afford to send your clients nice things. It doesn't have to be anything huge and lab. She could be a $5 gift card to their favorite restaurant. It doesn't matter. It is. They're going to think of you when you send these things and that's what you want. You want top of mind awareness. That's a Your homework for this section is to set up a meeting with your clients and ask them these questions. If you haven't already the next lesson, we're gonna be talking about how to set up a free tool to track your projects and share status updates with your planes 6. Fix Your Project Management: creating a methodology to connect with your clients on a regular basis and maybe even writing that methodology into your contract when you're going to meet how often you're going to meet. What's this span of that meeting timeframe. How much you're going to discuss whether you're going have delivery balls to show or not All of those things are really important. And that should be known to the client so that that flaky behaviour is ultimately diminished because they know that you're going to check in next week. And it also prevents that anxious behaviour of Is it ready yet? Is it done yet? Is it ready yet? Is it done yet? And we don't like to be that person like poking and prodding constantly, But we've all been there were waiting on somebody for something, and we have to keep bugging them and nagging them, and nobody likes to be that person, So don't let your clients ever get there. Tell him exactly when you're gonna check in. Tell him exactly what you're going to check in about. Tell him how long it's going to take and tell them what to expect, and in that way you'll solidify that communications channel for them so that they don't have to do any guesswork. They'll know that you're going to be contacting them on this date for this amount of time about this topic. If you codify that in your contract, that's even better going one step beyond that, you can actually leverage ah Project management suite that your clients can log into and see progress that you're making towards the work that they've hired you to do. One of my favorite tools for this is Air Table. From the moment that you sign up on their table, it gives you a ton of options for customization and how you're gonna be using it. You can skip these steps if you don't want any sort of prefab templates, but some of them are actually pretty useful. Someone go ahead and select work here. What's your main goal in this case? What we're trying to do is manage contacts and relationships, but you could also use it to build on launch a product, so use it as a CRM. What kind of company is it? You can fill in your blanks here. I'm just going to select creative agency. What's my role. This is mostly for their internal stuff, but you never know. So you could say, um and marketing have his company just me continue. Now what is going to do is it's going to set up an entirely new cool workspace for us, where we're gonna call it our company, then click on create workspace, and now you can see our dashboard. So our dashboard here is a series of spreadsheets, which they call bases, which are database enabled. Essentially, you can link data to one another from inside of the spreadsheets. All of the bases come preloaded with dummy data so that you can see how they're going to be used. Each time you open up a new base, it gives you some instructions on how you can use it, what it's for and how you should customise it if you have a particular need. They also give you videos and instructional demos on most of the key functionality for all of this, and best part is that it's free. Each base can have multiple tables and lots of different types of fields so you can actually linked to a particular team member. You can also add attachments you can do calculations you can indicate notes. You can set calendar dates. You have different views based on the information. All of which is to say, this is a very powerful tool. Now let's say you don't like any of the stuff that they gave you right out of the box. You can actually click on this out of base button. You can start with a template or you can important existing spreadsheet. Let's go ahead and select templates. We actually want to do a project tracker. I'm gonna use this as our template. It gives you a lot of description about how it's going to be used in a where and when I'm gonna go and click on this gives us our information right off the bat. But it also allows us to see some of the dummy data that's in here so I can sign a lead. I can indicate tasks. I can indicate a particular type of project what category it's in. I can customize each and every single one of these fields, so let's say we don't have a category. We just have a particular segment of the business that we're working with. So he could say segment, and we could say, marketing, sales, manufacturing, whatever Right tech, you can save that and look, all of the stuff automatically updates. Not only that, but now we can filter by our segment so he can just see those particular types of projects we can also group, or we can even select of you based on a completely different type of structure for this data. And look, it's linked most of these things together already. How cool is that? You can click on each card and then find all the information that you need to edit straight in here. If this is too confusing, you can go straight back to your table view, and we've got a filter applied, which we can remove now and see all of our data. Remember I said this was a database so linked to each of these things are tasks. So let's take a look at the coffee packaging record and then let's take a look at the tasks that are assigned to it. So it has a client. We've got a project lead product team a date, and we've also got tasks, research, other coffee packaging. We can add new tasks right here so we can add a brand new record for a task se, um, Explorer roasting options. And you can assign it to a particular team member who's in your air table. And each of you also has access to this as well, sharing the tables between each other's free, sharing, the basis you can share down to the base level you can share at the project level. It's however, you want to do it. You can indicate time estimates notes. You can completely customize this. And actually, look, if you look over here, it's up. Here is a task table and you can see I just added this one right here. Explorer Roasting options. You can customize this, however you would like. It's all grouped by a field, the design project. So let's take a look group by design project from a dizzy So all of these air grouped by the project that they're assigned to. How cool is that? The really neat thing here is that a lot of CR, ems or even project management systems try to force you into one methodology or another. The Kon Bon Method is really popular for a lot of folks, and that's why Trailer is really popular. Some folks just prefer to manage all of their twos in their in box, and those people are crazy, but it might work for them. Some folks like to use the to do list method, and so to do ist or other products like that work really well for them. I find that this is a good mix of all of the available options, and I can actually export all of these things that are sitting in here as a CS V. And it really helps me to be able to utilize my existing tools, my preferred tools while also adding my clients in to the tables that I want them to have access to, so that when they come in and ask me questions, I can point them to air table and say, This is the update. This is where we're at. This is how we're doing. You can see it any time you can log in 24 7 They don't have to send me an email. As long as I have done my job of updating air table, they're going to be able to see the update to their project right in real time. Having a dedicated project management tool like that allows you to avoid scope creep discussions because if you can add in and they can visually see in air table how much work something is going to take, it can stop those scope creep conversations cold. Or if they decided that it really is important to them and they're willing to pay for and they have a budget for it, it allows you to scope it right on the spot. Either way, it saves you a boatload of work and potentially gets. You paid a lot more money. Finally, make sure you're tracking your hours. If you're not currently tracking your hours, you probably should. From a legal standpoint, it helps make sure that you can show that you've done the work. It also helps reinforce with your clients the value of your time and what they paid you to outsource. If you were efficient and can truly do the work faster, because your skills are at a point where you're able to do more with your time than they could and equal amounts of time, it is great justification for your rate. If on the other hand, you're not able to do it faster than them. Then you've got a little bit of a problem because there is a mismatch in expectations. But either way, you should still track your hours to make sure that you are covered in the event they say, What did we just spend all of our money on? This is the perfect way to answer that question. Copy and paste from your Google sheets. Give them the hours log of time committed to the project. And that way it really helps reinforce what it was that you were working on and how it was supposed to be going. Your project for this lesson is to very simply go explore air tape. The next lesson we're gonna be talking about how to fix your follow up. 7. Fix Your Follow Up: earlier, I asked you to make sure you ask your clients five questions when you onboard them. They were silly personal questions, and they're really important. The reason is because if you're working with somebody on an ongoing basis and you're asking them to pay you for something, they need to know that they air more than just a a t m to you. If you have similarly answered those questions, you become more than just the person that gets stuff done for them that they send tasks to your more than just a task robot. You are, ah, living, breathing freelancer. They're living, breathing business person, and you have to treat each other with that human connection. So if they do have, ah, bad day, you know what to do about it? You know what their favorite food is? You know what their favorite drink is. You know that you can send him a $5 gift card for a lot, give him a break and give him a minute to breathe That is so important. And go so far beyond the delivery bols of Can you build me a logo? Can you make me a a bit of copy for my website. Can you deliver this thing that I've asked you to do? It makes you that much more of a rock star in their eyes, and they'll think of that next time they have a big project that comes down the pipeline or work that you could be doing. They'll think about that when it's time to renew your contract, going that extra mile and delivering those extra niceties. It's such an important step, and it makes all the difference when it comes time to rehire you more than just the niceties. Make sure you are listening when your clients are sitting in meetings and they're saying, Oh, you really like to do this or we really you know, we're gonna put this on hold or these other deliver Bols, whatever those things are those low hanging fruit opportunities. Write them down because those could be your next big projects. When your project wraps up, you could say, Hey, during our meetings, you brought up this and this and this. I'm wondering if you'd like to work with me again on these things, because I would love to renew your contract and do these things for you. and this is what I would charge for him. What you want to be is the person who is listening to them so well during the meeting that you knew exactly what they want and you can deliver it to them because you figured it out already. Finally, don't just let your clients vanish into the vacuum. Make sure that you are following up with them after the project's completed. Have some sort of set timeline to check back in with him in three months and six months. Whatever is appropriate and say, Hey, did that logo or to that piece of copy? Or did that website or that app accomplish the big picture goals that you were hoping for? I really want to understand. Is there more that we could be doing? Is there another step that we can take? Is there extra work that I could help you with to accomplish those bigger picture goals? Because usually what happens is something gets delivered, and then you have to do that next step or you have to do the next thing. And if nobody's followed up with them to hold them accountable for the big picture change that they wanted to make. But you and you were the one that was listening to that, then That's really ah valuable thing for them. And a lot of clients will honor that with a longer contractor, an extension of your work. So here's your project for this lesson right up. What you are going to do as a follow up to the work When you are done with your project for a client. How are you going to follow up with them afterwards? Check in. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? Right, That up is word document posted into the project section. 8. Summary: this is it. This is the last lesson in this class. What I'd like to do is give you a quick recap of everything we've talked about. The first is make sure you understand yourself your own business, your skill set so that when you do on board a new client, when you ask them about their budget, their timeline, their scope of work, what their expectations are, you will know better how to say no to those types of clients that don't fit well with your business model that don't fit into your niche. That don't fit the type of clients that you want to serve. Knowing yourself is probably the best and most important advice I can give you in that step . The second is have a contract. If you don't have a contract, then it makes no difference how good you are or how often, or how speedy you deliver something. If you don't have a contract and their the terms aren't clear, you're going to have a lot of flaky behavior from your clients. The next is know your project management. If your project management is thorough inside and out, your clients can check in on the system and know what the delivery bles are supposed to be right there in that minute. Then you have done a wonderful job of informing your clients, and especially if you are having regular recurring meetings. Maybe those things were documented in your contract as well. You're according your hours. So you know how much time you spent on something and your regular reporting to your client so that they are on task and know what you are on the hook for. And no, they are on the hook, for it proves that communication across the board so that there is very little frustration when it comes time for checking in or deliver Bols. Finally follow up. Ask those silly personal questions. Get to know your client as a real human being and not just a zone ATM. Get to know them so that when you deliver something, you're delivering the big picture questions of what they're really carrying about. What are they really wanting to do here? You understand the end end and you've been listening throughout the entire project so you can tell them what is next. As a follow up project, if you could do all of those things you are for sure going to reduce flaky behavior from your clan's. You will get paid more often. They will be more thrilled. Toe work with you on a recurring or a regular basis and you will not have to work is hard to make sure that your work is seen as valuable and that you are worth hiring again. If you have any follow up questions to this course, please feel free to post them in the comments section posted discussion. I want to hear from you. Are these things working for you? Are they not working for you? Is there something I've missed? Make sure to post it in the comments section. I can't wait to hear from you. And for all our sakes, please, let's do the work to get that 40% unpaid client invoices down to 10% or less, we can do it