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July 1, 2022
Read time: 5 minutes
To have long, healthy CFO engagements, you've got to nail the onboarding process.
Over the past 6 years, my firm has onboarded 50+ CFO clients. I also watch other firms struggle with onboarding every day.
One of the main reasons firms struggle is because they don't have a solid onboarding process. It's a completely wasted opportunity to wow your new clients and to add value out of the gate.
Here are 5 Pro Tips that will help you level up your onboarding game:
This seems like common sense, but as you and I both know, common sense isn't always common practice...
As soon as onboarding starts, be diligent about identifying:
• Who owes which action items
• Why each item is necessary
• When each item is needed by
• What "complete" looks like for each item
• Next steps
Setting and managing expectations should be a common theme for every stage of the client relationship.
It starts at onboarding.
Most of us have some sort of checklist we send to clients. Access requirements, tax returns, legal documents, etc. It's easy for this list to grow to 20, 30, or 40+ items.
Like us, our clients are busy. When they see an entire laundry list of "stuff", they're likely to get overwhelmed and do nothing. This results in us having to beg for information. It also slows down the time to onboard. Not good for anyone.
Instead, send them a prioritized checklist with the items you need most urgently at the top. Put the nice-to-have items at the bottom. Let them know what you need and by when.
Bonus ProTip: For items that typically confuse clients, create short how-to Loom videos and share them proactively. How to grant access to QBO is a great example.
You should be adding value during the onboarding process - not just collecting documents.
This will enable you to charge (more) for onboarding.
During onboarding, you should use the client's data to start establishing a perspective around the financial wellbeing of the business.
You need a process in place to do this in a repeatable way or it will become a massive time suck.
Your process should include an analysis of things like:
• Tax elections
• Entity structure
• Financial health
• Internal controls
• Systems and reporting
Start a running list of items that should be addressed and why. This will be crucial in my next point...
Have an onboarding call with your new client once the onboarding analysis is complete - but before your first CFO call.
This is your opportunity to:
• Get clarification about items that were unclear
• Ask questions about what you saw during the analysis
• Share meaningful insights you gained during the analysis.
This is your chance to show you actually did meaningful analysis - instead of just checking the box.
Most firms wait until the first CFO call to go through this process. But the client is expecting you to have actual answers by the time the CFO call comes around.
The onboarding call will get you the answers you need to have a 2x better first CFO call.
Professionals have processes documented.
Be a professional.
Document your onboarding process.
1. Set and manage expectations
2. Prioritize the onboarding checklist
3. Analyze the info gathered during onboarding
4. Have an onboarding call
5. Document the onboarding process
That's all for this Friday. 5 tips to a better onboarding experience.
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