Are you in the habit of improvising, just winging it, doing whatever seems to work in the moment? Well, that’s great if you’re an artist following your creative spirit, but if you’re a business owner serving clients, improvising is probably not the way to go. You’ll want tools that allow you to serve clients and coordinate team members to deliver an excellent experience every time.
I help many professional organizers reach their business goals and build sustainable, profitable businesses. Of all the advice I share with them, I doubt there is any that is more important than learning to use business forms to create that excellent, consistent experience every time.
First, let’s be clear about what I mean when I speak about forms. A form is a type of document that contains specific fields of variable data. For example, a gift certificate probably has a space for the date, the amount, the recipient, and the giver’s name. That’s a form, because it has a number of fixed fields, each of which can contain variable data.
A few types of forms that most professional organizers will need include:
- client intake form
- in-person assessment
- letter of agreement or contract
- subcontractor agreement
Some of these forms will be “client-facing” while others will be for your internal business use. Each of these and many more––over 80 pages in all––are included in the package of New Organizers’ Essentials I offer on my website, here.
There are many benefits to using business forms.
First, forms allow you, the business owner, to “master the art of faster.” When you have forms that contain all the relevant information in a predictable format, you can more easily hand off work to your team, including the person who does your billing, books your speaking engagements, or tracks your social media results, or delegate to an employee. Many people can work on the same project with nothing falling through the cracks because good, comprehensive forms spackle those cracks!
Another related benefit is how forms allow you to scale your business to serve more clients. You can consider having multiple teams working at once if you feel sure they have all the information they need to fulfill your client’s needs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the job site or not. Your team leader will know how to proceed to meet the client’s needs based on the information provided.
Forms boost your confidence.
When you’re making an in-person assessment, you’ll want to give plenty of space for your client to explain their goals in their own words. At the same time, you don’t want to forget to get answers to your own questions: are there pets in the house? How did they find you? What special requests do they have? Were there any questions left unresolved for which answers must be tracked down? Having an orderly form can help you remember the results of your own meetings and make sure you follow up in a timely way on any outstanding questions.
Forms maintain your brand.
Because you can hand off work to others, forms help you to maintain brand consistency. If you and your employees or independent contractors are using the same forms in your meetings with clients, the experience the clients have will be more alike than not, whether the person doing the assessment is you or a team member. Your business can become known for doing things a certain way. Whether that means becoming the local eco-conscious organizer who specializes in recycling and reuse, or the upscale and luxurious concierge service, or the fast-and-efficient packers and movers, (to give just a few examples) forms allow your business to keep that focus, no matter who is doing the work.
Forms improve the value of your business.
Many organizers have read the book The E-Myth Revisited, which describes how to build permanent value into your business. For professional organizers, forms are a key way to implement this strategy. Using forms and creating a proven, branded way of achieving results for clients builds value into your business. Rather than remaining a solo entrepreneur, you have the option of building your business into something another business person might want to buy.
Forms help you evaluate and improve your business.
Finally, forms make it easier to evaluate what works and what needs improvement. When you collect the same information from each and every interaction, you can compare methods and techniques to see what clients like and what needs improvement. You can see whether your advertising is bringing in more clients than your blog or fewer, for example. And you can gather feedback on what makes your clients delighted so you can do more of it (and advertise that it’s what you do!)
Once you’ve designed and tested your forms and they are regularly used in your business, review them thoroughly every year or two. Keep a running list of changes and updates you want to make so your forms continue to reflect the way tasks are actually done in your business. And date each update with a version number and a revision date so you know you’re using the most current version of your business forms.
Here’s one final thought regarding your forms. If you’ll be asking your client or your employees or independent contractors to sign a form, it is very helpful to have the form reviewed by reputable legal counsel to make sure you’re staying on the right side of any labor or contract laws that apply to your business.
Does starting from scratch to develop your business forms seem daunting?
Take a look at my package of New Organizers’ Essentials. You can customize these forms with your own logo and types of information relevant to your business. They can save you many hours of time.
If you want to master the art of faster and serve your clients better, make sure you’re using forms for confidence, consistency, and value. And leave the improvisation to the jazz musicians.