9 tips to working with new customers

Opening your emails to find a purchase order or receiving a call to proceed with a project is super exciting, believe me, I get it! I remember in the early years with our first business the rush of excitement when we got a project over the line… especially the big jobs with seemingly good margins. We would be so keen to get off on the right foot, to do a good job, and hope to secure ongoing work with the new customer that we were so focused on pleasing them that we lost focus on what our business needed.

Sometimes things worked out fine and other times we were left with little profit or never receiving payment that left us out of pocket. Running a business on emotion is not such a good idea. As a business owner, our responsibility to our business must come first. Systems and structure are essential across the business. It may seem a massive task but once you get in the swing of recording what you do and creating templates and processes as you go, you’ll be amazed at how smooth and efficiently things run.

The onboarding process is where you get to set your boundaries and expectations of each other. It’s much easier to have this clarity from the beginning to avoid awkward or difficult conversations down the track.

  1. Follow a checklist so nothing slips through the cracks
  • Putting structure around onboarding new customers will
    • increase cash flow,
    • saved time and frustration chasing money with
    • no need to use debt collectors or the SOP act,
    • plus fewer challenges on site
    • which all equals less stress and agitation
  1. Get all the details of the person or business responsible for paying you (it may be different from who you provided the quotation to).
  2. Check you have your customers correct ABN, full business name, and both physical and postal addresses. You may also want to get a copy of a driver’s license.
  3. Be proactive in getting the information correct at the beginning you could have an onboarding form to be completed by the customer or by your admin team. Check out our template in our member resources.
  4. Do you require a deposit to secure the work?
  5. Consider providing new customers with a welcome pack/email and include an introduction to your team, copies of your insurance, your bank details and payment terms, a workflow so they understand your work process, or a checklist for them to complete prior to work commencing.
  6. If you are receiving a purchase order or contract from your customer, make sure you read it fully and address any concerns prior to accepting the purchase order.
    1. Look at their payment terms will their terms impact your cashflow (some large companies have been known to pay 45, 60, or even 90 days from the date of invoice)
    2. Do they require copies of documents to be attached to invoices?
    3. Do invoices need to be sent to specific people?
    4. Is it a commercial project that requires a payment claim scheduled to be completed?
  7. Set your follow-up tasks to maintain the relationship. This allows you to keep on top of any obstacles that may arise early. If you don’t use a CRM you can use outlook or google calendars to schedule follow-ups or we like using the free version of Hubspot.
  8. Don’t leave anything to chance and if the arrangement doesn't work for you know when you to walk away.