We all know the importance of a first impression.
But, I think people often forget just how important a “last impression” is, as well. You ever had that happen? You have a great experience with someone, you’re feeling good, and then something happens that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
It sours the whole experience.
And, worst of all… because it’s the last thing that happens, there’s no way for them to make up for it. Now, imagine that’s a client who you want to give you a referral or hire you again.
Think that’s gonna happen?
So, “offboarding” is just as important as onboarding, in my opinion. Just like you create a welcome package for onboarding, you should create a close-out package for offboarding. Because we leave nothing to chance.
We don’t wait for business growth to happen.
We make it happen.
And, along with offboarding your clients and leaving them with a good last impression (which will help your business grow)… you can also give clients explicit reasons to give you repeat business and referrals.
That is you making growth happen.
And, this applies whether you’re getting clients on Upwork or another freelance site, locally, strictly through referrals, etc. Wherever you’re interacting with clients, this can help you to get more repeat clients and more referrals (more 5-star reviews, etc).
All that said, then, there are six things, at a minimum, I recommend you include in your offboarding package:
- Usage Instructions
- Future Contact
- Future Business
1. Usage Instructions
This might not apply for you, but if it does… you want to give your clients clear instructions on the proper way to use whatever you’ve created for them. In fact, the majority of problems that might arise after you work on their project can typically be alleviated by some simple usage instructions.
For me, it’s typically a video explaining how to create their content so it shows up properly in the site I created for them, editing pages, managing updates, and such. Giving them a video keeps them from having to ask you.
Better for them, better for you.
Pro tip: It might make sense for you to turn these usage instructions into some kind of course. I haven’t, but I could easily flesh out mine and turn it into a course on building a membership site in WordPress.
That, then, could become a course I sell, a value-add for my service to increase the value of my offer and usage instructions for clients. That is maximizing your time and effort.
(You know what, you talked me into it. I just might do that! :D)
I always give my clients a 60-day guarantee on all my work. It helps take the stress off that final payment. A lot of clients feel like they’ll make that final payment and then you’ll just abandon them.
So, they delay and delay.
They find things wrong and nitpick, etc. They’re not trying to be mean, but they just don’t want abandoned. A simple “I’ll fix it if I broke it” guarantee helps alleviate all that.
You do have to be careful.
I’m explicit that the guarantee covers work I did. If they install a bunch of plugins or change a bunch of stuff, that’s on them. But, the work I did, I’ll cover.
Next, you want to ask for their feedback on the project experience overall. This does a number of things.
First, it lets them bring up any issues so you can address them and do everything you can to leave them with a great last impression (so, we get those referrals and repeat business).
Second, that feedback helps you identify problems in your delivery that you can correct for future clients so you’re always getting better.
Finally, it’s a good way to subtly collect testimonials. If their feedback is glowing, simply follow up and ask if you can post their feedback on your website. Voila! You’ve got a new testimonial. So, always ask for feedback.
4. Future Contact
Give them some idea of how/when/how often/etc they can contact you going forward. It’s setting ground rules a bit, otherwise, they’ll typically feel like they can contact you however they want.
So, just specify how you want that go so they know.
5. Future Business
Here’s where we get into the nitty-gritty. You want to give clients really good reasons to hire you again and again. That’s where the money is made in a service business. Of course, your delivery is a big part of that.
It’s the foundation.
Without a high-quality delivery, nothing else matters. However, a high-quality delivery doesn’t guarantee they’ll hire you again. They might go price shopping in the future. So, I like to incentivize repeat business.
I offer all my clients a 20% discount on any future work.
So, if a client pays me 5K for a site… every site after that is 4K for them. That’s a significant discount for them. But, for me, I’d much rather get the 4K than never get their business again.
Especially, when it becomes 4K, 4K, 4K, 4K, etc…
I’d be dumb not to take that.
It also gives them a logical reason to just go with you in the future. To not even price shop. “I might as well just hire John again because I get the discount, I don’t have to do all the interviews again, I know he’s good”, etc.
You don’t have to do this. And your discount doesn’t have to be as big as mine, but I do strongly recommend doing something. It helps you lock in that future business that is so critical to your growth.
Referrals are really similar to repeat business. There are three kinds of referrals you can get:
Natural referrals are ones clients just give without asking. They’re so amazed by your service that they can’t help but talk about you. Definitely the best kind to get and what you should strive for.
But, of course, we leave nothing to chance.
So, there are solicited referrals. These are referrals you explicitly ask for. When I used to do outbound sales, this was always a part of the process. Even if you didn’t make a sale, you’d always ask for referrals.
We had a sheet and we’d just ask people, “Do you mind writing down the names and numbers of five people who you think would be interested in our product?” We’d make them tell us no.
You don’t have to be that aggressive.
You can just include a PDF where clients can enter that info in your offboarding package. At the very least, them looking at it will plant the seed.
Finally, there are incentivized referrals. If you want, you can offer existing clients an incentive for referring other clients to you. So, offer them a ten or 20% commission for any work they send your way, as an example.
In my case, that’s $1,000.
That’s a pretty damn good incentive. Especially, if your client had a great experience with you. It’s almost a no-brainer for them to refer you. Just add that to the referral PDF you create and you’re good to go.
Don’t have to do that, but it’s a great way to drum up business when you’re brand new. Get your often well-connected clients to do it for you.
So, that’s the offboarding process and how to explicitly ask for repeat business and referrals. Again, it all goes back to delivery. If you want hired again and you want referrals, the client HAS to have a great experience.
But, once you have that…
You can use these techniques to easily secure future business. That’s also it for the delivery side of things. Next up, we’re going to start digging into marketing and selling your services.
We’re going to get into building your services sales page. That’s probably going to take a few emails because it’s a big task… but we’ll tackle it bit-by-bit and build you a sales page that will turn prospects into clients.
So, be sure to be on the lookout for the next email.
Also, Lesson 13 in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course shows you my highest-performing services sales page. I’ve tried lots of different things over the years, but this format was my best-performing.
So, again, if you want to skip ahead and dig even deeper into creating a sales page that’ll bring you new clients, check out that lesson. As I’ve said, the course is up on Skillshare so you can get access without paying for it.
All the details on how to do that are here: https://myjohn.us/skillshare
P.S. If you got value from this email, I’d appreciate it if you’d share it with any other freelancers or side hustlers you know. I genuinely love helping other business people and I’d love to find even more I can help with this information. I’d appreciate anything you can do to help out with that. Thanks! 🙂