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Originally written June 2017 - Updated January 2, 2019
You decided you wanted to work from home as a virtual assistant.
And ever since that big decision, you’ve been networking like a fool for your first client: hanging out in Facebook groups, going to networking events, telling your friends and fam to the point you’re starting to feel like you’re bugging people with your pitch.
But a virtual assistant without clients is - well, not busy.
You need a client!
And then one day, you get that email - someone wants to chat about how you can help their business.
So you have that discovery call and you’re feeling like you knocked it out the park. You said all the right things and shoot, you even sent a thank you email afterwards.
Now, you wait.
You refresh your email countless times, waiting for a response.
And then it happens — you get an email. You’ve got a client!
But don’t celebrate too much because you’re not done.
There’s something you need to put together for your new client - and that’s a welcome packet.
What is a welcome packet?
The welcome packet is a PDF that contains important information about your business that may or may not already be in your contract.
Is a welcome packet required?
Well, no not really. I've just found that having all of the necessary information in a separate PDF file is handy not only for you but the client as well. And we're aiming for simplicity here, folks!
What's in a welcome packet?
Glad you asked!
Here’s what your Welcome Packet can include:
A personal note from you, welcoming them onboard. Start off on the right foot but including a note from you: how excited you are to work with them and how you plan to make a difference in their business, something along those lines. Keep in mind that some clients may be working with a virtual assistant for the first time so you may have to a bit of hand-holding to ease them into the water. It's okay - a kick-butt virtual assistant doesn't just do the work: they also educate their clients.
Work expectations. Spell out when you will return phone calls and emails. Do you have a 24-hour turnaround during business hours? Will you make recommendations and offer solutions? Tell your client what they can expect from working with you.
Your office hours. If you don't spell out your office hours, I can bet my bottom dollar that at some point you're going to have to talk to a client about working outside of your hours. I've seen it happen time and time again. This is where educating a client GENTLY about what a virtual assistant is (a business owner in partnership with the client) and what a virtual assistant isn't (an administrative worker solely who is on-call and dedicated to their needs only). Make it clear what your hours are and stick to them. For example, my business hours are Monday - Friday, 6pm-9pm, Saturdays from 10am-5pm. I'm closed on Sundays and the last Saturday of each month. Period. Which brings us to the next matter:
How will you handle “rush” jobs. OK, life happens sometimes and things pop up that need immediate attention. No problem. But if it's happening over and over, then it's time to put some processes in place to keep that from happening. Planning ahead will save you lots of time and headaches. Discuss and note how you will handle rush jobs. Let's say the client gives you less than 24-hour notice to complete a project. It's totally okay to charge a 25% surcharge. Again, make sure it's clearly indicated in your welcome packet, as well as your contract, to avoid problems later.
How you will handle referrals and if you provide a referral incentive. In the virtual world, referrals are golden. Do a great job, your client will tell someone else and BOOM! You've got a new client. But you want to thank them, right? Maybe a gift card or a couple of complimentary hours.
Your business processes: how you will protect passwords and confidential information, etc. The online world can be a scary place with all this hacking foolishness. And your client is trusting you with the back-end of their business. That's huge! You want to reassure them you've got systems in place to protect their confidential information - maybe shredding confidential data, keeping passwords private, that kind of thing. Give your client some peace of mind.
Your subcontracting process, if applicable. You may get to the point where you become so busy with work that you'll need to bring on a subcontractor. Or, maybe you don't have the skill set to complete a project. Let your client know how you will handle this type of situation (the subcontractor will do the work but you will check it over thoroughly to ensure it meets your approval). Remember, this is YOUR business on the line.
Invoicing process. This little nugget of information is probably in the contract you sent to the client but it doesn't hurt to share it in the welcome packet. Reiterate your hourly rate/retainer amount, when you will send an invoice and when payment is due.
Your contact information and how you prefer to be contacted. I'm cool with getting texts from my client so they have my cell phone number as well as my email. Maybe that won't work for you so tell your client your preference.
Add in a get-to-know-you sheet: the client's address (so you can surprise them a gift from time to time), birthday, spouse/children info, if applicable.
Isn't some of this information already in my contract?
It's highly possible. But let's think about this for a second: most people don't thoroughly read contracts. We should but we don't. We read the most important part - how much we're making/paying and kinda skim over the rest. The welcome packet outlines IN A SEPARATE DOCUMENT a lot of what's in your contract. The difference is that your client will probably read your welcome packet.
You don't want any excuses ("I didn't know that was in there because it's so buried in the contract!") Nope, we don't want that!
What else do you need to bring on a new client? Well, I've got that all outlined in a Trello board. If you've been around these parts for a while, you know I compare Trello to Post-its on steroids! Seriously, I can't get enough of Trello because it keeps me super organized. Here's one of my Trello boards and you can see what I'm talking about.
I've got a whole Trello board dedicated to onboarding, or bringing on, your first client. It outlines, step-by-step, what you need to do and send to your client to ensure a smooth start to your working relationship. You can get free access to it just by signing up below.
So, I hope this information helps you. Let me know if you need anything else. Here's to your success!