In your early days as a solopreneur, you spent most of your time on lead generation. You learned SEO, invested in digital ads, tried EDDM (every door direct mail), and built a decent local following.
Years later, your hard work has finally paid off. You now have a jam-packed schedule loaded with client-booked sessions. Every day, it seems like you meet a new prospective client.
It’s great, but you feel overwhelmed!
The last thing you want to do is turn a client down due to your busy schedule. But, onboarding new clients takes a lot of time and doesn’t earn you any income.
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be a lose-lose situation.
All it’s going to take is a well-crafted client intake form to automate the whole process. And it’ll save you from having to cancel your current appointments!
What Is a Client Intake Form?
When you think of a client intake form, you probably imagine the type of sheet you fill out before your first appointment at a doctor’s office. You provide your contact information and a reason for your visit.
By the time you get into the examination room, the doctor has a good idea of why you’re there. A treatment plan is already in process and ready to go.
Client intake forms serve a similar purpose for independent contractors. These days, most freelancers have an intake form landing page on their website that customers can fill out from their computer or phone.
You can use your form to learn about who your clients are, what their budget is, how you can best serve them, and what types of services they need.
And you can learn all of these things before you even talk to them on the phone or schedule a meeting.
These forms streamline the onboarding and client intake process for the sake of your time, your workflow, and, most importantly, your patience.
I also like to think of my intake forms in terms of dating profiles. A business relationship is a relationship after all. An intake form can help you ensure the client is going to be a good fit for you.
Who Should Use a Client Intake Form
Nearly any business can benefit from using a client intake form for onboarding. Yet, solopreneurs—or people who work for themselves—seem to benefit the most.
Consider using a client intake form if you’re a:
- Personal trainer
- Real estate agent
- Massage therapist
- Freelance writer
- Graphic designer (or artist)
In other words: Any career where you need to learn more about your potential clients before accepting their business or creating a game plan to help them.
Related: 5 Steps to Better Client Management
Why Every Solopreneur Needs One
If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, you need an intake form for onboarding new clients, especially if your client base is expanding and you’re having trouble keeping up.
Let’s talk about a few reasons why:
Think about how you onboard clients right now.
You probably play phone tag and struggle to find even 15 minutes when you’re both free to talk business.
You email back and forth, and it takes days to get a few small bits of information. And when they read your emails, half of your questions go unanswered.
Or, you have an in-person meeting. You get to talking and, before you know it, the conversation has gone off the rails, and you’re suddenly talking about mutual friends or hobbies you both share.
Client intake forms get right to the point.
You can get all of the data you need (like their contact information and what services they’re interested in) and none of what you don’t.
You Can Better Tailor Personalized Plans
The luxury of being a solopreneur is bringing your clients’ visions to life with a unique approach. You can tailor your business strategies to meet their needs.
Let’s say you’re a personal trainer.
You talk with a potential client over the phone, and they tell you they want help losing weight, ideally 10 pounds in the next month.
You spend an hour putting together a fitness routine before your first session.
On the day of your first workout, your client casually says in passing, “Oh, I forgot to mention—I have a heart condition.”
This throws a monkey wrench into the plan you spent hours developing. Now you have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a whole new plan.
Had you used a form asking prospective clients about pre-existing medical conditions, you could’ve avoided this whole situation.
Make Better Use of Your Time
If you’re at the point in your career where you’re looking into client intake forms, you’re probably already short on time and looking to work more efficiently.
Client intake forms allow you to make better use of your time.
That’s because you can be more selective about which clients you choose to work with after learning a little bit more about them.
Imagine you’re a real estate agent.
You get a call from a potential seller, then spend hours compiling comps and creating a listing presentation.
After talking for 30 minutes at their kitchen table, you come to find out they’re not looking to sell until next year.
The preparation and the meeting cost you time and earned you no money. A form asking, “When do you plan to sell?” could’ve helped avoid this situation.
What to Ask on Your Client Intake Form
Any intake form is better than not having one at all.
But the length of the form, the questions you ask, and the wording you use can impact the results you get.
Let’s go over what you should ask on these forms (and how to ask it).
Contact Information (Phone, Email, Name)
This one’s a given.
Without some form of contact information, the person who filled out your form will slip back into the depths of the internet, never to be heard from again.
When we say contact information, we mean:
- Full name (you need to know how to address emails and calls)
- Email address (one they check regularly)
- Phone number
- Physical address (especially if you’re in the home improvement business)
Not all clients will appreciate an unexpected phone call or know to check their email for a response after completing your form. So, it’s a good idea to allow clients to select their “preferred contact method.”
It’s even better if you let them choose preferred time slots so that you don’t get them while they’re at work or asleep.
Regardless of your industry, you probably aren’t a one-trick pony.
You offer different packages, services, and even personalized plans to meet your clients’ wishes. And there may even be specific tasks you just don’t do.
Whenever possible, use multiple-choice questions to get a direct gauge into what your clients are looking for without miscommunication, like:
- Budget (i.e., <$100, $100-500, $500-1,500, $1,500+)
- Timeline (i.e., Next week, 1-3 months, 3-6 months, 6+ months)
- Job (i.e., Full-body massage, facial, deep tissue, sports)
- Goal (i.e., Weight loss, muscle-building, power, agility)
This information can help you find your ideal clients—the ones who’ll get the most value from your services and who are worth your time and money.
If you only have 5 hours of open time slots in the next four weeks, you can weed out the packages that take 6+ hours a week.
Multiple-choice questions on client intake forms make sense in a lot of areas. But many things in life just don’t fit into neatly wrapped packages.
Client intake forms are one of them.
Open-ended form fields are necessary to help get a little more detail about a client’s specific needs and goals.
- Describe the job you’d like me to do for you.
- Explain your goals in this area.
- Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns?
- Do you have any pre-existing illnesses or conditions? List them.
- Describe what you’re looking for in a graphic designer.
These are the questions you’d typically ask during your first meeting or phone call with a new client. Getting them out of the way during this hands-off onboarding process can save you time and avoid the element of surprise.
How Do You Create an Intake Form?
Now that you generally know what you want to ask on your client intake form, it’s time to get to work and start designing it.
Here are some tips to help you:
Keep It Brief
Condense everything into one page so you don’t overwhelm your prospects. Keep the form to 5-10 of the most important questions.
If your form is online, add a progress bar at the bottom for multi-page surveys. When people can see how many pages they have left, they’re less likely to click out.
Let your prospects know how to complete each section of the form, just in case there’s any confusion.
Include your name, contact info, and business logo on the form, too, so they know how to get in touch with you if needed.
Check for grammatical, spelling, or formatting errors. This form might be the first impression your customer gets of you, so you need to look professional!
Give Them Some Wiggle Room
Include an “other” option on questions where your prospect might want to provide additional explanations.
Also, allow some contact info fields to be “optional,” as some people are very particular about giving up their phone number or address.
The form’s primary purpose is to get the information you need to provide your clients with the best services they can imagine. But even more critical is ensuring that clients click “submit” at the end of the form.
Using Client Intake Form Templates
Creating intake forms is time-consuming, especially if you plan to use HTML or CSS to create them. Thankfully, using survey creation tools or intake form templates can expedite this tedious process.
First things first: Plan out the details.
Make sure you know how you plan to send out your form (landing pages, social media, email campaigns), the questions you want to add, and how you’ll collect data.
You can do that by:
Choosing the Right Tool or Template
You have plenty of options regarding how you create your client intake form.
On top of asking the right questions, you need to use the right tool or template.
Here are some of the best platforms for creating intake forms:
- Lexicata: This is a CRM tool built specifically for law firms and lawyers. Not only do you have dozens of pre-made custom fields to choose from, but you can also prioritize specific responses to find the clients you want.
- Wufoo: The custom form templates from Wufoo allow you to choose a pre-made template based on your specific industry (like online photography, appraisal request, and online therapy). You can add a few custom fields of your own and finish making your form in mere minutes.
- Google Forms: Google Forms may just be the easiest free form-builder online. You can vary question types (checkboxes, dropdowns, open-ended), and it’ll organize all client responses in a Google Sheets document.
- TypeForm: TypeForm is, without a doubt, the most user-friendly intake form platform out there. Clients will answer one question at a time for a low-stress experience that’s nowhere near overwhelming.
It’s up to you which form you use, as all have their own benefits.
Want a CRM that helps you create AND organize forms? Check out Bloom today!
Sending Out the Form to Potential Clients
How will you get this form in the hands of the right clients?
Well, your client intake form should be somewhere on your webpage and all of your social media profiles. If somebody has found their way onto your page, there’s a greater chance they’ll book services or an appointment.
To draw visitors toward your intake page, you should include a call-to-action like “Request More Information” that links to your form. Embed a link in your email signature, too (i.e., “Ready to get the body you’ve always dreamed of? Click here to get started!”). You probably send dozens of emails every day, why not advertise at the same time?
Also, set up email notifications to tell you when clients complete the form so that you can get back to them promptly!
Creating a client intake form is a surefire way to reach more clients without eating up too much of your precious time, and also weed out potential clients that may not be a good fit for you.
It’s even easier with the help of Bloom.
Bloom is a fantastic CRM that allows you to organize client contact information, kick-off email campaigns, and make custom surveys in five minutes or less.
Send out a link to all of your clients, and await responses.
Most importantly, reach out to clients who respond to your survey as soon as possible. Every day you don’t reply, you increase the risk of losing that client to a competitor.
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