Episode #091 Creating an Optimised Onboarding Workflow for your Bookkeeping Business

​Last week on The Bookkeepers' Voice, Angie and Maia discussed the “what and why” of Client Onboarding. Join us again for this new episode as we dive a little deeper and talk about actually creating your optimised onboarding workflow!

With an easy to follow 5 step process, you'll learn about sales conversion, welcoming your new clients, collecting necessary information, and more! All with a focus on doing these things in a way that is streamlined rather than time consuming.

Remember that no process is expected to be perfect the first time around. That's why it's important to pay attention to how your clients' experience with your onboarding system is flowing, so you can improve and perfect as you go. Figure out what is working and what isn’t, and make the changes accordingly.

Key takeaway: “An efficient onboarding process ensures a solid partnership between you and your clients in order to build loyalty and help with client retention.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #091

Series: General

Host: Angie Martin

Topic: Onboarding Workflows

Useful links
Read transcript

Summary keywords: onboarding, client onboarding, bookkeeping industry, bookkeeping business, onboarding process, customer onboarding system


How to create an optimised onboarding workflow for your bookkeeping business


Angie Martin  0:01 

Good morning, everyone. Hope you're having a great Friday. As always, this is Angie coming from you with the another episode for the bookkeepers voice and a half mile with me again. We are doing another episode today on the onboarding process for bookkeepers. And we make up part a large part of the savvy team. So we're super excited to be talking about onboarding. And we basically last episode, if you haven't listened to it, I would stop listening to this one and then go back to the last one, because we just talked about what onboarding was and how to properly do onboarding because I think a lot of bookkeepers combined onboarding and lead generation together. And that's not what onboarding is for. So that's a big thing. In this episode, we want to go through and actually help you create an optimised onboarding workflow or process, however you want to say I'm going to say both throughout this episode. But basically, once you get to the point that you are onboarding, you need to go through and make sure that you have the effective process before you even send anything to your clients. So you want to make sure you can ask your team and yourself what is like how is our external communication done? How is our internal communication done? What are re recurring, like tasks that need to be done for our team and clients? What a repeatable tasks that could be automated for the clients? And what happens? Like how can you create a higher level of happiness for your clients? And if it's not at that level? How can you improve it. So that's one of those things to just kind of sit down and reflect before creating the onboarding process, because you need to know what your team needs to create the ideal client and have a really smooth client relationship kind of thing. And he also needs to know what your clients need from you, and really understand their needs. So just to help really create that streamline process we were talking about in last episode, where we actually you sit down and figure out how how you're going to engage with your clients and what you need. Like if you only work with them on one day a week, you need to be able to sort that out with your team. So that is implemented and then continually implemented, so that you can tell your clients,


How do I set expectations from the beginning in the onboarding process?


Maia Coghlan  3:17 

yeah, you need to set the expectations for yourself and your team, determine what you want those expectations to be. And then you can effectively communicate those expectations to your clients. Yes, he said that much better than what you want.


Angie Martin  3:32 

Thank you for regurgitating that properly for me. Yes, so it's really important to do that before you start working on any workflow or process. If you don't do that, then your process isn't going to be streamlined and optimised for either yourself or clients. So first thing is you do that. Next, you need to go through and basically break down your onboarding process into steps that need to be done because it makes it a heap easier to make sure that you're doing, you're thinking about your client's needs and your needs at the same time. So what I've actually done is I've created a simple five step checklist for you that we're going to go through today to ensure that you're offering a successful onboarding workflow that will establish the excellent foundation between yourself and your client for the long run. So the first part is actually processing the sales conversion. Now, this again, this one should be pretty much almost completely automated. If you're using a CRM or even an air table or an Excel sheet. There should be notes and everything in the client section. So that the onboarding and passing over from the salesperson to the bookkeeper or anyone in your internal team is done properly. This has nothing to do with your clients, this has everything to do with your internal communication.


Maia Coghlan  5:08 

So make sure that like they weren't continued to get your, your emails asking them to book in for a health check or something like if you've got your system set up that we talked about in the last podcast series, you need to remove them from those automated emails. If they sign your proposal and become a client, they now need a different set of in. Yes, that's Yeah, that's one of the big internal things, you need to switch them internally from being a lead to being a client client.


What is involved in the handover process when onboarding clients?


Angie Martin  5:41 

Yes, and it's a big thing as well is you need to do a handover to your team. Now, off the hook constabie do a handover that is automated, because we keep really good notes in our CRM, we use CRM for that reason. So that very little time does my n need to come to me and go, so what's happening with this client? Exactly. It's all in the notes and in the proposals. So you need to make sure that your team is up to date with what you're actually working with the client for so that it can be successful step forward for the team as well, because it's the worst thing when you tell your client, the salesperson tells or One team member tells a client something and then the next team member tells the client something else. The big boo boo guys, the big boo boo, and it does not give a great first impression for how organised you are. So even if you're a team have to have a chat, or make sure it's in the notes. So you know exactly what's happening. So that's the first step. The second step is a welcome pack, which is quote, unquote, the client, the welcome email to the client. This one needs to come right when the deal has been finalised to welcome them to starting the new relationship, a new exciting chapter for their business, because this is should be exciting for them as well. And not just oh my gosh, I'm gonna pay this person all this money to do this. You want it?


Maia Coghlan  7:21 

This is lighting? Yeah, this is welcoming them to your community clients and making them feel like them in the right decision. Yeah.


Angie Martin  7:34 

And it's, it's a great opportunity to show off a little bit of your expertise, how amazing your businesses, and also go over the top and being really there for them without actually being there because this is all like automated. But it's showing them that you are there and that you are there to support them. And it starts a really good relationship.


And basically, the number one question people always ask me is how do you do this. It's an automated welcome series, email series catalogue email series. In these series, you write the automated emails, you can also create welcome videos that are embedded into the emails as well. I know some of our clients are heavy with their videos that they offer their clients. And it's actually a really great way of creating that connection, especially with people who are used to doing more things face to face. By having that video in there, it can create a really successful relationship. And also Fun fact, with videos I found this when I was researching for this episode, that during the welcome process, 54 of new clients want to see more 54% of new clients want to see more video content. So you can put it into your welcome emails of just saying exactly what's in the email. But in the video, which is great. It lets them see you lets them feel more comfortable. And it's really not that hard to put a video in an email isn't mine.


Maia Coghlan  9:16 

No, not at all, especially if you're using something like loon which is free to use. You gotta love your videos. And we'll put a link to learn in the Episode Notes. But yeah, they when you record a video on loom, you've just it gives you a link, like a like a URL link and you put it in the email, and we'll take the person straight to the to the video all you have to do is name the video. That's it.


Angie Martin  9:50 

It's great and it just creates that really welcome feeling to having that face to face that some people are used to doing with the old fashioned kind of version of the can't shake? Hmm, yeah, I helped create that


Maia Coghlan  10:03 

can actually when everything's virtual Hmm. It's so nice. Like, and more things are becoming more virtual and more and more, it's nice to have that connection. Even if it's still a virtual connection, like seeing somebody's face and helping them talking to you, it's a, it's a big difference to just reading an email.


Angie Martin  10:26 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know what you guys are thinking. So I've just said for you to create an email series, and I've just said for you to do welcome emails. Sounds like a lot of work and time consuming. Yes. Oh, boy. It is, but you only do it once. Okay. And one thing that actually I forgot to talk about, which maybe you can talk about because you created it? Yeah, doing a getting started guide, creating a getting started guide for them for clients as well, which you could again, link into your welcome series you want to talk about?


Maia Coghlan  11:03 

Yeah. So we, one of our many templates in our shop is the Getting Started Guide. We like to do it in panda doc to me pretty, but you can also get the word doc version. And basically what it is, is it's a getting started guide.


Angie Martin  11:25 

It's exactly what it sounds like guys.


Maia Coghlan  11:28 

At the start theres a section to welcome them use a bit about a bit about your business and like, with not drive boring stuff like something interesting about your business. It's


Angie Martin  11:42 

the marketing message, guys, you're telling them yeah, clean message about your business.


Maia Coghlan  11:46 

Yeah, exactly. Then you go on. And like if you're going to be using zero, you give them the email addresses for the people that you need added to their zero account. And there's actually links to, for them to go to that show them exactly how to do that. So it takes and they're already embedded in the document templates. So you don't even need to look up what those links Ah yeah, so there's that for zero and receipt bank. And then you can add links to your basl authority Doc, your STP opt in or an enduring authority. All of those things. And then then you have a bit about how to get in touch, and like your contact hours. And you introduce your team. So have a bit more about you have a bit about your team, each of your team members that they're going to be communicating with or working with and, and again, not just, I'm the bookkeeper, and I do a message again, guy and I have 16 years experience as an accountant. Okay, so yeah, but that in but I mean, also include that. You love Tim Tams and Labradors or something.


Angie Martin  13:17 

Yeah. I think personal something. Yeah, that's not too personal. It's like me being like, Hi, I'm Angie, I'm Canadian who lives in Australia. And I have a rabbit Dom that I absolutely love.


Maia Coghlan  13:30 

Exactly, something like that. And it does, it is really nice if you put a photo of you and your team members in there, so they can really get a feel for the team. And then just a bit, I guess your contact details and sign off. So that also gives you a great starting point. for building your email series. Make sure those sections can go in an email, email. Exactly.


Angie Martin  14:02 

Which is awesome. So that can all go in the welcome series. Just right off the bat, like can be like actually just included in the first email. So that it makes it nice and easy. It's all there. And then the rest of the welcome series is re integrating everything in that document. So you again, write it in the document, and then you can just regurgitate it into emails.


Maia Coghlan  14:28 

Yeah. So you send them the document, then like one of your emails can be maybe a little bit more information about your team, or Hey, have you added us to your Xero account yet? Remember, this is how


Angie Martin  14:40 

to do it. Exactly. And that's actually the next bit that I was going to talk about


is collecting the necessary information so that getting started guide has all of that, but let's face it, not all of your clients are going to read that through and actually action things. So you need a second An email to remind them specifically to action to get that information that you need. So that's when you can create one of the most critical parts of doing your business is actually doing an email to get all the details like the payment details, the account access, everything that Maya just said that is in the actual startup guide, but regurgitate it into an email to make sure that it's actually going to get done.


Maia Coghlan  15:31 

Some of these things will also be in your original proposal that they signed, like the payment details, how you expect the payment system to work, when the payments are going to be due, how they're going paid. Yet, those kinds of things, they need to know that stuff. And they should already know that stuff from signing the proposal, but it's good to remind them and be like, okay, now remember that thing that we now need to set that out? Yeah,


Angie Martin  15:58 

it just, it really helps to ensure that your client understands all the technology that you'll be using to access their information and how it works.


That way, you won't get someone again, three months down the road being like, I don't know how to do that. You get that sorted right off the bat.


Maia Coghlan  16:18 

It also reduces the amount of Ah, and I need this information from you. And oh, women again. I'm sorry, I forgot to ask you this. So it makes your job easier. It makes their life easier. You just be like I made it all this stuff.


Angie Martin  16:37 

Yeah. And typically, to be honest, what it's done really well when it's in the, you know, actual starting guide, and then it's reiterated in an email, usually by email, it's done. Because they understand now the importance that if they hadn't done it from looking at the startup guide, they know that okay, this needs to happen now, because my bookkeeper is asking for it again, right at the beginning, because again, this is the best time to be asking for things. Because this is the best time they're actually going to listen


Maia Coghlan  17:11 

and answers those questions of what happens next is going to be having after they sign the proposal. Exactly. So the next bit


Angie Martin  17:20 

I added in not every bookkeeper does this, and not everyone has to do it. But I do find for a lot of bookkeepers who are in the midst of transitioning from doing a lot of face to face to not doing it to going virtual, this is a really good idea. It's an onboarding kickoff call. So this can be done on zoom, or it can be just a call. And it's just just a call, again, it'd be an email for them to book in, it's not you just willy nilly calling them because you remember they're busy to them booking in to have a chat, to get to know the bookkeeper that they're actually going to be working with. Or if you're in a team, it would be the bookkeeper, they're actually dealing with to put a voice to the emails. And also, again, re iterates, everything. Just to make sure all all of the expectations from both sides are going to be met. That way that they understand what is and isn't currently working. This is sorry, this is a good way of also understanding what isn't isn't currently working in your bookkeeping process. So having these kickoff calls, if you notice that they're having a lot of questions about one specific thing, that means that you're not explaining it very well in the onboarding, or just in your added value of resources. So it's some if it's something that they ongoing, just don't understand why they need to do this. It's a great way to make sure that you're streamlining those processes. But it's just really making sure that all the goals are clearly outlined and that you have a really great way of reinforcing that relationship directly with the bookkeeper, they are going to be dealing with no one else in the team. And also just reinforcing the value exam again, because it's the bookkeeper directly talking to them. The bookkeeper is going to be able to add value added content right away on the phone.


Just to really show how amazing you are


Maia Coghlan  19:37 

or how much you actually know, your stuff that you're gonna be doing for them. Make them feel extra confident in you help build the relationship help show that you care about providing them with a good service. Yeah,


Angie Martin  19:51 

and I can just be like, I'm not talking about a two hour meeting guys. We're talking about a 30 minute conversation that they booked in with you Either zoom, or it would be a call whatever suits your business best. Just to get to know each other a little bit more.


Maia Coghlan  20:09 

Yeah. And if you, especially if the person doing the sales isn't the same person doing bookkeeping, this has been really important,

Has COVID impacted the bookkeeping industry?


Angie Martin  20:21 

which I know, not everyone has that makeup. But more and more as people are realising bookkeeping is really important. Since COVID, I know there's more and more of you guys who are actually starting to get into having either you make the sales call, and then your employees do the bookkeeping, or you're having someone come on in, there's just multiple bookkeepers. And when the sales made, you don't actually know which bookkeeper is going to be working with the client. So it's just a great way to connect, create that connection, the direct bookkeeper they're dealing with?


Maia Coghlan  20:57 

Yeah. That's the link to book in for that, yes. should go in your getting started guide and your email series.


Angie Martin  21:07 

Yes, exactly. The last bit, the last step that needs to be done is keeping the communication consistent. Again, the first 60 to 90 days are the most important for a new client. So in that time, that's when you're in like the honeymoon phase. Once you pass that 90 days, that's when things always change. And you want to make sure you've had that really seamless transition in implementation from having the sales process to the onboarding process and having them as a client, that way, you can ensure that there's a steady in an effective flow of communication. So that there, it reduces the risk of miscommunication in assumption assumptions from either the bookkeeper or the client. So as long as you like I said, in last episode, you can sign them up to a newsletter list for your clients to keep that communication going. And following up with them as well, seeing how you're doing, like, I'm, we're gonna do an example soon. But one of my examples is in six months, do a checkup, email and be like, how – how're we doing? Are we meeting your expectations? And if they reply, no, then you can find out why. It's a great way of really creating that relationship again,


Maia Coghlan  22:38 

and fixing any issues that you might not even be where, yeah,


Angie Martin  22:44 

or just getting a great pat on the back, if you're doing everything amazing, which I'm sure you are.


Maia Coghlan  22:49 

And if you do get a great pat on the neck, then that's a perfect time to ask for a review.


Angie Martin  22:55 

Exactly, which is very good for you. And it can go right back into your lead generation, which is quite. So what I thought would be best is going through and actually telling you how we would suggest you to create this email series. So it's all in one email, welcome series, in I've broken it down into five emails. So again, this would be something that you would create in your email software, and it would be automated for every new client. So the way that I do this, my in my head, tell me if I'm right, let's say you get a new client, you put them into the list of coins. And I would just have every time you put a new email in that list, they automatically get sent this onboarding series. Is that how you would do it?


Maia Coghlan  23:51 



Angie Martin  23:54 

Yay. All right. So the first email, I would suggest is ….


Maia Coghlan  24:02 

And just before you go into the example, yes, this is an example. So this isn't how you have to do it. You don't have to include all of these things, you might want to include different things, you might want to put it in a different order. You want to might want to break it up in a different way. This is just an example.


Angie Martin  24:21 

Yes, this is just because we just gave you five like steps, I thought it would just be helpful to turn the steps into emails as an example. Cookie for reiterating that. So the first email, which would be sent right away in the automation is the welcoming the client in there, that's where you would put the video that's where you would put the link to the Get Started Guide. That's where you would let them know also of what the next step is. Second email would be automatically sent out the next day, this will be the email where you're getting the information from them. This is where you reiterate what is in the startup guide to have getting all those collections, getting everything all sorted for actually doing the books. So all the logins, the setups, everything, probably mote the most important email of the series To be honest, because without this, you can't do your job. Yeah, exactly. So you do that one, the third email, you introduce the company more, and reiterate your services that you will be providing. This is similar to what Maya was saying earlier, how you can do a separate email again, that's off of the startup guide, the setup guide, to explain a bit more about the business a bit more about the team, and to help them feel more comfortable working with you, and also regoing over what exactly you're doing for them. This email would be sent one week after the second email. So not right away, so you're not spamming them. But just doing that real Welcome to it


Maia Coghlan  26:26 

isn't in the previous email and email number two, you've given them a lot of information and asked for a lot of information. And they're probably going to need some time to get that together. To You know, feel comfortable with all this stuff. So you want to leave the next email for a little bit.


Angie Martin  26:43 

Yes, absolutely. The fourth email is introducing the bookkeeper and announcing that the onboarding process has been completed and work is officially beginning. This should be sent one day after the third email, because really, within the first week of having that client, you should be able to start work. Ideally, doesn't happen like that. Again, there's something wrong with the onboarding system, because they're not doing what they need to do. So you can do your work. This is also the great time to create that kickoff call to officially meet the bookkeeper. So you would send an email with more information about the bookkeeper. Even if it's just you, this is a great way of actually getting to know you a bit more. And then ebook you have in that email, the booking link to have to have that 30 minute introductory chat with you.


Maia Coghlan  27:42 

Yeah. Now we're ready. Let's,


Angie Martin  27:45 

let's have that final top to bring. Yeah. final questions you might have


Maia Coghlan  27:50 

make sure we're all on the same page. Yeah,


I would. Um, what if you send email number two that asks for all this information? Or gives them all this information? You know, I'm telling them to add, add your Add User user and their zero account? For example? What if by email for your for they haven't done that yet?


Angie Martin  28:16 

That's when you would need to do a separate email that would go out of the automated, yep, stream to be like, Hey, have you received this email? I need this information ASAP.


Maia Coghlan  28:31 

So maybe you send an email to, and then two days later, you set a notification for yourself to check if they've done it. So you want to follow that up before the next automated email goes out?


Angie Martin  28:49 

Yes, I love that. And that, again, you can just do in your actual workflow. Yeah. Yes, that's a great tip. Right?


Maia Coghlan  28:58 

You can even set it up to just send you an email, send one email to the client email to to the client, email three to me to remind me to check if they've done this stuff. Yes. And then email three to the client.


Angie Martin  29:14 

Yeah, I love that. I think that's a great idea. We should add that so that we can go out into the that was just an on the ball, amazing Maya moment. So we'll add that into the blog, that real write up for this podcast. Then the final email that's to go out is I usually actually just title it, how are we doing? And that's an email that will go out six months after the onboarding process has been complete. And you check in to see how it's going. Are you meeting their expectations? Do they have any extra questions? Just checking in to see how you're going because you want to make sure Basically, with onboarding processes, it's a never ending refinement of the process, because technology changes, you might upgrade your actual software. So that changes. And your clients needs change as well. So this is like an ongoing thing that you constantly need to keep going through these five steps we went through today. So these, how are we doing emails, after six months, having them for a client is amazing to help you figure out what possible holes you have in the process and how you can improve. And if not, then again, like Maya said, it's a great opportunity if you're doing amazing to get some really great reviews. So that's pretty much the whole process of creating an optimised email workflow with the five steps. But actually breaking it up into actually six emails, because when email is to you, when, instead of the five miles just to the one client, I've really loved that idea. Just to help you create a really long term successful onboarding process for you. And just remember, as well, not, you're not going to have every single client loving everything you do, there is always going to be a client that doesn't mesh perfectly with your onboarding experience. That's why you check in that way, if they have been rubbed the wrong way, somehow, during the onboarding process, you can check in on them and make sure that you're doing you fix it before it gets really bad. Basically, you fix the issue. Yes. So the next process we're going to talk about in the next episode, is actually going through and talking a bit more about what Maya is already kind of started to cover, about what templates you actually need in your onboarding series. So we talked about in today's episode, the actual like, process of creating it, but you can save a lot of time by just having everything in templates. So we'll talk a bit more about that in next episode, where Maya is going to share a little bit more about what we personally suggest as savvy and what we actually do with off the hook with all of our templates, which is going to be a bit exciting, because we are just obsessed with templates, anything you put in a template we do, don't wait till we get everything done.


So we'll go through all that with you guys next episode. And hopefully it will help again, just really create the onboarding process so that you can create your own startup guide that has all of your templates in there as well. Do you want to finish anything off any last minute comments about creating an onboarding workflow because you were the book flow queen?


Maia Coghlan  33:28 

I just want to say I think I said this in the last episode as well, doesn't have to be perfect. First, have your plan. Think about what you've won. Many make it and then you can come back and change it later if it doesn't work. Agreed. When you do that, if you do a kickoff call with your client after they've gone through this email series, and if they have questions, you know, like, like we said before, if they have lots of questions about a certain thing, then you know, that's not covered sufficiently in or they might be confused about something. So we'll go back to your email templates and edit them. So the next time you onboard someone, those questions are answered more clearly already. And you don't have to answer them later.


Angie Martin  34:19 

Yes. And I just remembered you are creating a little thing in the back end at savvy right now about actually doing a resource about onboarding workflows. Are you?


Maia Coghlan  34:32 

Yes, yes. I'm creating a little infographic that sort of outlines this kind of process in a visual way.


Angie Martin  34:43 

Yes. Which I'm a visual person, I actually picture everything in my head as like a visual concept as I'm saying it so I hope you know other people are the same. It just helps to break it down. So we're actually going to create that is a free resource for you guys. And we're going to once it's been created, take a peek. It actually, of the time this airs, it should be pretty much done and should be on the shop for you guys, you can just download it, it'll be a resource, and it will be in our podcast notes for you. Yes. So that will help together with this podcast with our blog. And then with the actual workflow that Maya is creating, you'll be able to get a really clear understanding of how you can get all of that done successfully. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us again, for anyone who has been trying to get into our I heart bookkeeping page. Just remember, you have to answer the questions. I had someone on the weekend who went to get in the page. I declined them because I didn't answer their questions. And then about five minutes later, they did it again. But they had answered the questions, which is exactly what we need to be able to get into the I heart bookkeeping Facebook group so that we can have a really lovely community, community of savvy bookkeepers that can help and support one another. Yes, just a quick little reminder with that.


Maia Coghlan  36:22 

All right. So make sure you Stay Safe, Stay Sane, and Stay Savvy.


Angie Martin  36:26 

Thanks so much, guys. Bye.