When starting out as an OBM, I’d describe my client intake process in two words – organized chaos. Especially before I started working with a team and building my OBM agency, that was my method for categorizing all of the information I retained about my OBM clients. If only I knew what I client brief was back then!
At the time, that somehow worked for me. I had multiple files and spreadsheets that helped me keep track of who was on Mailchimp, and who was on ActiveCampaign. Same goes for where each client hosted their website, or if they preferred Slack to email. A lot of it also just lived in my head.
However, when I hired my second team member, it was clear to me that this fractured system just wasn’t going to cut it. The solution?
A client brief!
My client brief was a MASTER spreadsheet that kept every single detail and quirk about all of my clients in one place. Not only that – it kept my team of 5 running like a well-oiled machine, especially when someone takes a vacation!
Whether you’re starting to work with a team in your online biz or its simply in your plans for the future, a client brief is the foundation you need to get well and truly organized, and grow your biz and your client load in tandem.
Why you need a client brief
When I started growing my team, I quickly realized that there were hundreds of ways to eff it up. More than that, I didn’t want the growth of my team to create MORE work for me. I wanted each of my team members to manage clients independently, but still be able to take a vacation.
And that, my friends, is a tall order.
In the early days of my online biz, when my team was still small, we had DAILY meetings. These meetings were meant to be 10-15 minutes. But they would often last for more than an hour! I was so attached to these meetings. I felt I needed them to ensure all team members were in the loop — on EVERY detail of EVERY client. But as my team continued to grow, this model became completely unsustainable.
My team and I now have 3 meetings per week that consist of 2-minute updates on each client. If an issue requires team brainstorming, we dive in. If two team members can troubleshoot an issue together, they break off for their own meeting. This ensures that we’re all generally clear on where each client stands. But we don’t waste an hour of our morning discussing the dirty details.
Instead, we keep a MASTER client brief spreadsheet organized and current. And if a team member is sick or I take a vacation, my team can cover the slack with the help of this goldmine.
What to include in your client brief
My team’s client brief was born out of a summer of vacations. My team was growing, daily meetings weren’t sustainable anymore, and everyone had holiday plans. We needed a solution that would allow us to serve clients that weren’t our own while their OBM was out of the office. We needed a document that would answer any question a “stand-in” OBM could have.
And so the client brief was born.
No two client briefs will ever look the same, and yours will vary depending on the type of services you offer and the types of team members you work with. Mine is a spreadsheet that includes every single one of the clients in my business and answers a series of questions for each.
Admin info we always include are the names and emails of assistants or VAs the client works with, all of the client’s email addresses (clearly marking the preferred one), where they host their website, their PMing tool, their email marketing platform, etc.
Project info we always include are an exhaustive list of their current live products and courses and the details of major projects that are currently underway.
But the most valuable information lives in the “quirks” section. This is where an OBM keeps notes on a client’s unique preferences. This let’s the stand-in know that a client HATES to be in the loop on everything and receive email updates too often. Or that they are HIGHLY distractible and need extra help staying on track. We even keep a discrete section of the brief labeled with a code word. Here we rate the client on a scale of 1 (cool as a cucumber) to 10 (neurotic and needy) to keep the stand-in relaxed or on their toes, respectively.
How to keep your client brief current
Clients are constantly in flux. They create new products and switch tech platforms and change their minds. That’s why it’s important to treat your client brief as a living, breathing document. Each of my team members has a recurring task in Teamwork at the end of every month to spend 10-15 minutes updating the master client brief. This ensures that a spur of the moment vacation or a sick child will never, ever gum up the works.
Now over to you: how do you keep your client deets organized? I’d love to hear!
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