For many solopreneurs a large part of their business is working one-on-one with clients, and that means having a way of keeping all of their client information organized and easy to access.
In this article I'm going to share with you my top three tips for keeping everything together, so that you can easily access your client information and know exactly where your clients are in your programs.
1. Physical: Create a Client Contact Sheet
For most business owners there will be a physical client file that you'll need to create. One of the simplest ways of creating this file is by using a manila file folder in which you simply drop your paperwork into. This file will contain things like the agreement form from your client, assessment forms, or details of any projects that you'll be working on.
Creating a Client Contact Sheet which contains your client's name, address, email, phone, fax and any other contact information that you want to keep a record of is a useful template to have. You simply print it out and fill it in each time you take on new client.
Once you've printed out the Client Contact sheet, staple it to the inside left cover of your client folder. This way whenever you need to access your client's information you just flip open the file and the information is right there.
I've been keeping a track of my client's contact information in this way for several years, and find it very handy - more so than storing the data electronically (which I also do). It's so much easier to grab the file, flip it open and find the information I need straightaway than it is to open the software, locate the client record and find the information - that's assuming the PC is turned on and I don't have to wait for it to boot up!
2. Digital: Create Client Folders
As the majority of your communication is probably done via email with documents going back and forth, you'll also want to create an individual client folder on your PC. It may not be necessary to print out everything your clients send you, but you do need to store the information so that's it easy for you to find.
A couple of places where you'll want to create individual clients folders are:
In your email program.
For each of my clients I have created their own email folder so that any emails that are sent to/from my client goes into their individual email folder. This allows me to keep track of our communications easily, rather than having to sift through hundreds of emails that come into my Inbox each day.
Tip: In Outlook you can also set up rules so that email is automatically filtered into the appropriate client email folder - saving heaps of time!
In your main client folder.
I'm a big believer in creating main/sub folders for managing my filing system - both for paper-based and PC files. (If you've been a member of my Easy Office Organization program you know that I tell you step-by-step how to do this.) So if I have a main Clients folder then within the main folder I will create individual client folders. I then use this folder for storing all the documents that I send and receive from my clients. Again having everything in one place makes for quick and easy access.
Tip: In Windows you can change the icon of individual folders so if you're more of a visual person you can have different icons for different clients.
3. All Clients: Client Tracking Spreadsheet
Once you have your physical and digital individual client files created, you'll want to think about utilizing a client tracking spreadsheet. If you are a coach or other service professional chances are your core programs are working one-on-one with clients during sessions (phone or in-person) so it makes sense for you have a system for tracking where your clients are in their programs.
In the beginning stages of your business it may be easy for you to keep tabs on just a few clients, but as your business grows and you're working with more and more clients, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed if you don't have some kind of tracking system in place.
If your clients book a certain number of sessions with you creating a simple spreadsheet that has your client's names in the left-hand column, and a column along the top for each session will allow you to easily see how many sessions they have already booked and how many sessions they have left.
By setting up a client tracking spreadsheet that shows you at a glance exactly where your clients are in your programs will give you a 'big picture' view of your business.
By Tracey Lawton
Image by Rick Becklerone
(c) 2010 Tracey Lawton