Working with clients is a relationship. Sometimes it’s a very close, ongoing one. Sometimes it’s an impersonal or one-time encounter. Either way, it’s a relationship and it’s important to set the tone that best serves your interests as a business while serving your clients successfully. This is where a New Client Welcome Kit comes in handy—it’s a red carpet that guides clients where you need them to go.
What Is a Welcome Kit?
A welcome kit is a packet of information you give to new clients to help ensure you both get the relationship off to a great start. A really important function of the welcome kit is to help set proper expectations moving forward. When clients know what is what and how things work in your business upfront, they aren’t left to form their own (probably incorrect) ideas which inevitably causes problems in the relationship.
When Do You Give a Welcome Kit to a New Client?
Some might feel giving a welcome kit to every client with the smallest of projects is a bit overkill. However, I like to give all new clients my welcome kit because it’s not just good information for them, it’s also sort of a marketing piece. It’s a visual demonstration of my company’s professionalism and attention to detail. Sort of like dressing well for a first date. Sometimes I provide the kit to clients once the contract is signed; other times it makes sense to give a PDF copy to them in advance.
How Do You Present a Welcome Kit to a New Client?
I do this a couple ways: both hardcopy and PDF. I only work with clients in an ongoing retained relationship. Those clients represent the largest earnings in my business. Therefore, I don’t spare expense on making sure my welcome kit is as beautiful and professional as it can be. It shows respect and appreciation for the client, and it demonstrates the excellence of my company.
My retained clients get a hardcopy welcome kit which is mailed to them. This kit consists of a high-end folder with contents that have been professionally or laser printed. My retainer clients also get a complimentary virtual office when they work with me. So for those clients, I always set up a special folder for PDF copies of invoices, receipts and such and include a PDF copy of my welcome kit here as well for their added convenience.
For smaller clients—that is, clients I might only do a small, one-time project for—they are provided with just the PDF version of my welcome kit.
What Goes In a Welcome Kit?
Once you are at the welcome kit stage, it’s time to stop selling. That is, I often see folks including all kinds of marketing collateral in their welcome kit and it’s really not the time or place for it at that point. Your welcome kit provides information about you and your company, but you want to focus your mindset on the idea that the kit is for the client’s benefit. It’s about making sure clients have everything they need to navigate your services and processes easily and ensure that the working relationship gets off to a successful start. At this stage, it’s about nurturing the relationship, not continuing to pound them over the head with your marketing.
Since your kit is a reference and guide for new clients, you want to very clearly spell out how things work in your business. Don’t gloss over anything—that’s not helpful to you or the client. But do keep the tone light and upbeat. Inject some personality. There’s no need to be dry and monotone.
So here’s what I suggest you put in your welcome kit:
- A bio about you (and no, not your life story, but some interesting facts, stories or life experiences as well as your values about the work you do and working with clients and what’s important to you about those things. The idea here is to help clients to get to know you a little more and give some insight into your belief systems and philosophies about the work and relationship).
- Your office hours (the days and times your office is officially open).
- Your communication policies (Do you require appointments for phone calls? What is your turn-around commitment for responding to calls and emails? How often do you check emails and voicemail?).
- An overview of your operations and work processes (How do you manage your workload? How are requests prioritized? What turn-around time may clients expect?)
- Instructions for submitting work requests. Once you have been in business for even a little time, you realize that you can’t accept work requests willy nilly. You realize that you simply must have a system and protocols in order for you to do the best job you can for clients. So be sure and explain specifically and clearly how you need them to submit their work requests to you.
- An overview of your services and any other divisions in your company. Obviously, you’re in business to make money while doing good work. That means that different work will naturally fall under different categories and you presumably would charge separately for these different services. You can’t work or give everything away for free, right? So make it clear what work falls under what categories and how and when you charge separately. For example, if you provide administrative support and also web design, you would want to make sure clients understand what is included in administrative support (and what isn’t) and what would fall under another umbrella that you charge separately for.
- Your expectations for working together. Clients have expectations of you and so should you have expectations of them. This is where you want to let them know how you expect to be treated, how quickly you expect them to respond to your questions, feedback and input, how you expect upset to be handled, etc. Of course, none of this should be put in an accusing or defensive way. You want to always frame it from the perspective that these things are necessary in order for you to give them the best support possible, which is absolutely what all this is ultimately about.
- Your ideal client profile. This is something you would also include in your referral kit, but I recommend you keep your referral kit and your welcome kit separate and distinct from one another.
- A list of frequently asked questions.
- A copy of the contract.
- A completed IRS Form W-9 (or your country’s equivalent).
- A Credit Card Authorization form.
There are all kinds of things you could include. A good rule of thumb is if it’s something that will help clients and will underscore information you need them to understand, go ahead and include it. And for retained clients, I recommend scheduling a new client orientation to go over all this information with them.