What is client onboarding?
Client onboarding is everything that happens between you as an architect and your client right after you go through the proposal process and sign up to work together.
During the onboarding, the client should be introduced to everything they need to know about your processes – the project timelines, deliverables to expect, and communication methods and schedules.
Benefits of client onboarding in architecture
The onboarding phase is relatively short but extremely important.
Onboarding is not just a stage of architectural project management. A well-designed and streamlined onboarding process works as a part of marketing since it contributes to customer experience and, ultimately, referrals and word-of-mouth campaigns, and ultimately more clients and revenue.
There are several major benefits of a good onboarding process for architects. Some of these benefits are obvious and work in the short term; others are long-lasting and kick in with time.
Here’s why you need to be serious about your onboarding – because it helps you
Teach the client how and when you will communicate, which will keep you organized, preserve your boundaries, and keep your clients aware of the work you do.
Keep the clients calm
Instil confidence in your clients and prevent any potential anxiety or stress. If all your clients see from you are only the invoices – that’s a clear problem. Lack of transparency kills trust – so make sure your onboarding fixes that.
Help you grow
Contribute to your branding as a reliable and high-end architect for the target market. The first impression you make on your clients allows you to showcase your expertise. A well-designed onboarding process can help you create a positive and lasting impression by showing your professionalism, expertise, and value.
Help manage your time
You will benefit from setting clear deliverables, timelines and expectations as well. Tie that with your payment schedule, and you will be more organized and better paid.
Top client onboarding mistakes
There are certain things architects do that turn onboarding into a never-ending mess and confusion.
The main mistake architects make with client onboarding is when they have none.
90% Of customers generally feel like companies are not good at organizing their onboarding. This makes it pretty easy for you to stand out.
Things that may seem simple, obvious, and intuitive to you are unclear to your clients. So, as an architect, please make sure your onboarding is not.
Different versions of things all around, several ways to access the same types of documents, important messages scattered across messengers, screenshots and old drafts… Use the document management and client communication modules in PlanMan instead.
No clear image of where you are going, no roadmap, no idea when to expect things and why there might be hold-ups
Passive & reactive
Your client should not be waiting for your updates in the dark. Don’t make your clients chase you and look for you.
Have a clear schedule and sequence for communication, and always be proactive. Be the first one to reach out to your clients and update them on their project.
Architecture onboarding best practices
Now let’s go over some of the methods and techniques that will help you design a great onboarding process for your architectural practice.
Offer a welcome package
This can be just a nice branded PDF with the expected project stages and contact information.
Keep in mind, though – everything you release into the world must reflect your mission, vision, and values.
Your onboarding is part of your image, so make sure to think it through so that your architectural practice, no matter how small it is, works as a consistent brand.
Branding and consistency play a big role in the size of your checks.
Keep your writing clear and concise. Check our post on architectural writing tips.
Survey your clients to get info and make a connection
This can work really well for certain markets, especially residential architecture.
You can have a fun and creative questionnaire that would help you understand the tastes and preferences of your clients.
Ask them to explain their priorities in terms of privacy, comfort, light, and space. Offer them to select between several styles or famous landmarks. Ask them to produce associations and ideas about certain concepts. These questionnaires can help break the ice and show that you care about your clients and their preferences.
For larger commercial projects, you may want your questionnaire to be more to the point and contain details like points of contact, contacting schedule, plans of the company for the object you’re working on, and their vision.
Get organised on your end!
None of the things you do externally will matter if your internal processes are a mess. If you’re navigating between bits and pieces and looking for info in messengers, email, cloud storage docs, – then it’s only a matter of time when general ineffectiveness catches on with your results.
Use project management software designed specifically for architects. We’ve created PlanMan so architects can have a home base with all documents and version control, client communication and marketing materials, accounting and task management – everything you need to run a successful architecture business.
Sign up for a free trial and start optimizing your work!