I've been in business for many years and as I'm beginning to grow there is one thing I needed to include that I've never thought of until as recently as 3 months ago. This one thing has alleviated so many headaches, offered so much clarity and provided discernment that I'm confident I'm going to see a growth in business.
So are you ready to hear what it is? You wouldn't believe me if I told you.
If you're a creative in business, you need a New Client Questionnaire... ASAP.
No not an LLC. Not a trademark. Not even a personal assistant/intern. You need a freaking client questionnaire.
Considering I've gone through difficult situations early on in business including lack of payment, dissatisfaction in projects, and miscommunication I can say with confidence that adding a questionnaire will help provide so much clarity for your creative business. It doesn't matter the type of business, I guarantee you can afford to create a questionnaire. I even recommend it to my clients.
Here are 3 reasons why.
1. It is a non-confrontatonal vetting process.
Sometimes the first client meeting can be all smoke and mirrors and doesn't give you a true representation of your potential client. Some clients may be really eager to work with you, but may not have the budget. Other clients may have expectations or a vision that your team is not capable of executing. This questionnaire allows you to make a clear decision as to whether or not to go forward with a project. The reality is just as much as the client is vetting you, so are you vetting your clients.
2. You get answers to Who, What, Where, When & Why.
When I developed my creative styling questionnaire, I included questions I knew I'd need the answers to during an in person client meeting. Even down to the most smallest detail: what direction would you prefer to shoot? How many images? What type of images? Which colors would you prefer? Having answers to all these questions allows you to provide a realistic quote & time frame for executing the project. Moreover, it puts the onus on the potential to really think about the purpose of their shoot and direction. I even offer an option for clients to upload inspiration images so I have an initial idea of what he/she is looking for. A great website that provides great flexibility is JotForm.
3. Allows you to have meeting focused on next steps.
This is probably the biggest change I've noticed in average meeting time. In the beginning, initial conversations lasted around 1hr 30 minutes to 2 hrs. Now with a questionnaire initial client meetings last 30-45 minutes. Initial calls now focus on next steps including shooting time and location planning and confirming everything that was mentioned in the questionnaire.
*** Bonus to having a questionnaire ***
It adds an additional level of professionalism. Perception is key in this business. Having a questionnaire sets the precedent that time is precious. Moreover, it shows you have a handle of what you need in order to develop and execute a project for a client.