ICBA Blog

The 6 Client Protocols and Processes You Need in Place Now

Create your own templates for onboarding clients and managing communication 

If you do contract work, likely the part about being an independent contractor that you’re most passionate about is doing the actual work. Maybe that’s taking photos, designing a website, writing an article, editing a novel, or illustrating a logo. But before you can dive in, you’ve got to figure out all the logistics. And it’s those aspects of being an independent contractor that can bog you down and eat up valuable time. At the start of a project, you might have a lot of back and forth communication with a client as you onboard them, negotiate your fee, sign a contract, and figure out deliverables. With templates at the ready, however, you can streamline the process and get back to focusing on the fun parts of what you do.

Letter of interest

If part of your work involves seeking out new clients or applying for gigs, a letter of interest (LOI) template can ease the hassle. That way if you’re combing gig or job boards and you see a call out from a company or individual in need of your services, you can quickly personalize the LOI, send it, and cross your fingers that it leads to a project or assignment. The LOI essentially introduces you to the client, explains why you’re perfect for the gig, and includes links to work samples or your portfolio. You can keep a template in a note-taking program like Evernote so that you can quickly cut and paste it into an email when needed.

Discovery form

You might have prospective clients who reach out to you seeking your services. In those cases, you may have to determine the specifics of what they need, the scope of the project, the timeline, and several other variables. An easy way to do this is to send them a Google Form. This method helps achieve several goals. First, a form that you already have prepared and can send at a moment’s notice allows you to respond to prospective clients quickly—before they move on to someone else. Second, the form keeps the ball in the clients’ court to determine what their needs are. Third, the form gets those needs in writing so that you can always refer to them later. Finally, by reviewing a form rather than having to respond to a client immediately on a phone call, you’ll have more time to assess the project needs and formulate an estimate or plan.

Explanation of process document

As an independent contractor, you likely have your own set of processes. That’s why client communication is so important. In order to stamp out any assumptions and stave off misunderstandings, you should explain your unique processes up front. Put your global processes in writing. These may include anything from an explanation of industry jargon and what those terms mean to you to how you send deliverables and get sign-off for them. You might also include how and when you expect payment and whether you’re available for additional meetings or calls. You can store your process file anywhere, whether as a Google Doc or a Word file or on a program like Evernote. Just make sure it’s easy to access, tweak, and send to clients in an email. Revisit this document frequently and make sure that it evolves as your business grows. If you run into a hiccup with a client, take a fresh look at this document and see if you can find a way to mitigate future issues by including even more precise communication.

Work-for-hire contract

The most crucial template you can have, of course, is your work-for-hire contract. Although accepting a project and just getting started can be tempting, the work-for-hire agreement helps protect you when things go wrong. Having a template makes filling one out and sending it to a client easy-peasy. Use any word-processing software to create a template that incorporates all of your necessary clauses and protections. Then use a program like Adobe and its Sign N Send feature to sign it yourself and also garner a signature for your client. Need help creating a contract? Try And Co.