How To Onboard A New Client

Hello there. Welcome back! Today, we’re going to talk about how to onboard a new client. Onboarding a new client successfully sets the stage for the reminder of the time a client works with you. Read this blog to learn how to successfully onboard a new client

I’m not saying just to do a bunch of e-mails because you feel like you should do them, or you’ve seen other people do them, or you’ve heard coaches saying you need an onboard process. I am talking about this from the perspective of the experience you want to create for this new client, who could potentially be your client, your yoga student, your physical therapy patient, for years to come. In fact, when you think about this onboarding experience from their perspective, most likely, that is how they become your client, your student, your patient, for years to come.


So for me, personally, when a new client comes into my world, I always think about their experience – their journey from the moment they first find out about me and hear about me and come in contact with me all the way to the point that they become a paying client to becoming up for renewal and renewing a package, a program with me, and repeating this process again and again and again.

What I Want My New Clients To Feel

Today, we’re highlighting the experience from the point when they were a free follower, a potential client listening and following you, not yet paying to becoming a paying client. That’s specifically what we’re talking about today. And when someone takes this step, embarks on this journey with me, personally, I have a few feelings I would love for this new client to feel.

For example, I would love for them to feel excited, to look forward to all that they can create and accomplish when working with me. I want them to feel relieved that they finally have the support that they need and that they made the right decision, that they’re in the right place. I want them to feel grounded, calm, safe, and aware of the expectations, aware of the boundaries.

Why I Preach About Creating Programs

So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to create that experience for them. Again, this is another benefit as to why I preach about creating programs, whether that’s one-to-one, a membership, a group, an on-demand, in-person, online, it doesn’t matter. I preach about creating a program for them, so you have the container to create this onboarding experience for them.

If you want to learn more about creating a wellness program make sure to read this blog: https://igniteurwellness.com/signature-wellness-program/

Why You need to Think About the Process of Onboarding New Health Coaching Clients

So just think about it for yourself. Let’s say you’re seeking out a practitioner to help with a specific problem for yourself. Let’s just say you want some relationship help for your marriage or with your significant other, your partner, and you start Google searching. You start paying attention to sponsored Facebook ads showing up in your feed, relating to this specific problem that you’re struggling with.

Now, imagine if you signed up with a practitioner, let’s say you went to a workshop or a class in-person somewhere where they’re offering marriage advice in a one-time event. Let’s say you went to that. And at the end of the workshop, you went to talk to that practitioner after the class. They were hurried, in a rush. They said, “Sure, you can sign-up for a session with me. I can help you more with this. I don’t really have time right now to talk about this, but if you want to sign-up for a session with me, it’s $150 an hour, go to my website, book a session, I’ll see you there. Bye.” Turns around and leaves.

So then you go to the website, which you had to track down all on your own. You finally find the link there, you sign-up for this session and pay for that $150 session. That’s a lot of hurdles to cross on your own, to begin with, but you eventually make it through because you’re very determined to improve on the relationship with your partner. So you do all that. You have this session scheduled for the two of you. You carve out time in your schedule and don’t you know it, right before that very first session, the practitioner cancels. In a way, that feels kind of yucky to you. It’s last minute. You feel brushed off. You’re not sure if you should reschedule. Think about how that might feel for you if that’s happened to any of your clients, when they’re trying to work with you.

Let’s think of another scenario. Let’s say you did book that session. You paid for it, it’s in the schedule, the practitioner does show up. They take an intake of the goals that you and your partner want to have, the struggles, they go through all that process, which takes a good portion of the first session. That’s normal. But now the session has ended. You’ve only begin to unravel the root of the problem, yet, the practitioner says, “Okay, time’s up. I’ll see you next time.” Yet, you weren’t aware that you should schedule the next time. You don’t even know how to schedule the next time. And when should you schedule the next time? According to the problem that you and your spouse are currently facing, you receive no guidance as to what would be the next step. Imagine how you would feel in your body.

That’s actually what’s happening with some of your students, clients, and patients. They’re showing up in your world. They’re meeting you, maybe from a yoga class, maybe from a workshop that you’ve taught, there’s various incidences. They actually took the courage to meet with you after the class, after the workshop to stand in line, to raise their hand and say, “I have a problem. Something you said resonated with me and I’m seeking a solution,” and you brush them off because you have to go to your next class. You have to race out the door for all the reasons, right? They feel brushed off and you tell them, “Oh, okay, just e-mail me or head to my website and book a session. It’s $150 a session.” And imagine if they do do that, they jump the hurdle of actually tracking down your website, booking the session and they sign-up for that first private session.

Let’s say they meet you at the yoga studio and you’re offering a private session. And you go through the intake. You begin to uncover what the root source of their problem is. You begin to understand what their goals are. And then you try to give them a whole six months worth of yoga postures in that one session. Like you write out a whole entire sheet of things that they need to do. Big lifestyle changes, like diet, sleep, hygiene, and now they’re expected to add this 40-minute to an hour yoga routine into their daily experience. And you’re like, “Great. See you, bye. Have a nice day. I’m here if you want to do another private session, right?” And then that student leaves overwhelmed, confused. Maybe even beating themselves up for years of getting it wrong, living life wrong, confused as to what they should do next. You leave that private session mad because now you have to rush to teach your next class, rush to your next private session, just so you can pay the bills. And you’re hoping that more clients will come in. That’s really what’s going on.

Creating a Container That Supports Your People from Start To Finish

Instead, another option is to create the container, the program, that cares for and supports your people from start to finish. That’s the different perspective than thinking that offering a program with weekly or even twice a week sessions, for example, is manipulative. No. It’s in the best interest to serve your people to the highest. It’s to create a container so they feel safe, they feel cared for, they feel clarity, because they know exactly what to expect. They are supported every step of the way. That is the difference. So you can start this onboarding experience even before they showed up for the first session.

For me, the onboarding experience starts the moment they say yes, after a consult. I immediately start the process where they know exactly what to do prior to the first session. For example, I tell them, “I will send you the payment link,” after we have decided on paying in full or monthly. They will have the link. They know that they need to pay for the first session. We have that first session scheduled. They are aware that on the first session, we’re going to go over their goals in more detail, we’re going to create the beginning foundation and structure of their wellness business. And that is going to set up the direction, the focus, the clarity, for the next few upcoming sessions.

They also know that if life happens or something happens in their business and they need to bring a different question, a different struggle, a different focus for a call, then they have that option available to them as well because we’re doing one-to-one right now.

When they actually pay, I have another onboarding sequence in series involving e-mails, onboarding videos, so they are crystal clear on expectations from their end, what they can expect from me, the program, what they’re responsible for, what to do in between sessions, what to do if they need to cancel or reschedule. It’s all part of this onboarding sequence and I’ve spent a lot of time and energy creating it because they’re going to be with me for the next six months.

I want them to feel cared for right from the start. I want them to enter this container feeling excited, feeling supported, that they made the right decision, grounded, calm, because they know their next step. There is no confusion. And if they do experience confusion, because that does happen, they know where to find me, how to get in touch with me. If they have a referral, they know how to refer that person to me. If they’re going out of town for three weeks and need to shift appointments, they are aware that their six month program will not turn into a seven month program and together we’ll work on rescheduling the sessions, making a plan for those three weeks, all within the six-month container.


Adapting to Situations Regarding Your Schedules

Now this is not to say that my onboarding process is exactly perfect. I’m always learning from it. Tweaking, adding more.

So for example, this summer, as I’m recording this, my schedule started to feel a little congested from my end. I had onboarded a bunch of new clients and patients all at the same time and because of the summer schedule where it’s natural for people to go out of town, their normal routine shifts and changes as they go on vacation, etcetera, I was finding myself back-to-back with clients and then as I finished my day, I would open up my phone to text messages like seven, eight text messages of people needing to reschedule.

So I realized the process I had set up nine months ago was no longer serving my clients and it wasn’t serving me. So I created a new rescheduling protocol using my acuity scheduler system so they could reschedule more easily on their own. This served them because then they could navigate their own schedule and take the time to find the most convenient appointments for themselves on their own time. I didn’t have to take time in a session and they could get a quicker response. They could get their problem solved faster on their own time. They didn’t have to wait for me to respond and it also helped me. So I wasn’t having to answer and reschedule a whole bunch of text messages day after day after day, which actually took away from time that I could respond to e-mails, to serve the people that were in the container, think about the people in my container, do lots of other things, or even just end my day and get home for family.

The problem with this, and I’m still actually problem solving it currently right now, is getting the acuity link to people so they can find it easily and they’re not having to wait for the reminder e-mail that says, “Your appointment is in 24 hours. If you need to cancel or reschedule, hit this button.” So I am still working through this process, this protocol. But you see, it’s an evolution, it’s always improving. It’s always getting refined depending upon the issues, the problems that show up in your business.

What Do You Want Them to Feel?

So you want to think about your clients’ onboarding experience from the feelings that you would hope they would feel when entering your world. When they actually took the courageous leap of faith to pay you, what do you want them to feel? How can you create ease and simplicity for them? What other emotions do you want them to feel during this onboarding experience? So, yes, it’s thinking about it from the client’s perspective and thinking about it from your business’ perspective and the lifestyle that you wish to lead. It’s a balance and flow between all of this. Some of the mistakes I see is planning entrepreneurs not having an onboarding process.

First of all, and most of the time that is because they don’t have a program. They don’t have a package. They’re doing one-to-one sessions willy-nilly or they created an on-demand or membership on the fly from hustle, from maybe even inspiration thinking. It’s a great idea. And just wanting to launch it super quickly and not even just skipping that step entirely, just wanting to get it out in the world and get paying clients.

So if you find yourself in either of those camps, if you’re doing one-to-one sessions on the fly willy-nilly, then you can go back and listen to how to create your own signature wellness program. That’ll help guide you through the steps of creating that program. And also begin to think about the onboarding experience you want your people to have from when they decide to move from just being someone that follows you and consuming your free content to a paying client and customer.

If you have an on-demand or a membership program, you can just start to think about the onboarding experience that you want to create for these people coming into your world right now, no judgment, criticism of where you were. Just go forward, hold the space for any emotions that might come up – failure, disappointment, shame. It’s okay. And you can refine. You can learn. Go forward.

One Common Mistake People Make In Their Onboarding Process

Another mistake I see is planning the onboarding process only from the point of view of what’s best for your business and best for your lifestyle. It’s not considering the client experience.

So for me, personally, for my programs, I hold the space of expectations for myself, of how I’m going to show up for each of my clients in a container. For example, I don’t cancel. Very rarely do I cancel. And usually it’s because for example, the most recent cancel we had to do was because of COVID.

If I have a vacation or like this week, I have my own mastermind event to attend, I usually give a couple weeks’ notice, or at least a week’s notice where we can reschedule and find a day and time that works for the best of us. I try not to cancel or here in the Southern California world, we call it “flake” on my paying people. So I have expectations for myself. I have responsibilities for myself of how I will show up for each of my clients to help ensure that they get the results that they’re paying me for.

I’m going to hold the space for there to be responsibilities and expectations from the clients. And as well, for example, not flaking on me, finishing a program in a timely manner, showing up doing the work, even though it’s uncomfortable, bringing struggles questions to the calls, preparing for the calls I found when we both show up to the program, to the container, being our best self, with the intention of giving it at all a hundred percent, that is when the client gets the maximum benefit. They achieve the results faster, quicker, with more ease. And that’s the experience I want them to feel. What do you want your clients to feel?

Wellness Practitioners Taking Things Personally

Another mistake I see is practitioners taking things personally. So when someone does need to cancel, or maybe they discover that they’re not the right fit for the program, or because there isn’t a container or program even set in place from the very beginning, they don’t schedule for months or sign-in. They don’t show up for classes. The practitioner takes it personally thinking something is wrong with themselves. Or maybe they’re not a good practitioner. They’re not a good yoga teacher. They’re not a good physical therapist, their practitioner skills aren’t up to par all the things we tell ourselves. And often that’s not the case.

Sometimes, life happens to our clients, our patients, our students, and they get caught in their own world and they get stuck and there was no container or expectation set from them for the beginning. So they get stuck in the limiting beliefs, in the thoughts that were holding them back and causing the struggle that they hired you for in the very first place. Isn’t that crazy?

It has nothing to do with you as a person. They probably still love you. They probably still find your work valuable. However, they got lost. They got stuck in their they’re only limiting beliefs in their day to day minutia that they forgot to reschedule with you, or maybe they flaked on appointment. They forgot to cancel because there wasn’t the expectation set-up in the very beginning of how to cancel. How do they reschedule? What is the process? What is the protocol?

One time Sean and I were seeing a counselor for our marriage. I think if you are a psychologist or a marriage therapist or a counselor, you can e-mail me and let me know. But I think there’s some laws regarding marketing and your profession. She could set a container but I’m not sure if she could have packages. Regardless, she didn’t set the container. So there is a difference, right? You can set the container for your people. You can still have an onboarding experience, but you can still follow the law of your profession. Or you can even decide that the laws of your profession hold you back in helping your clients experience and you can choose to leave the profession which is another whole blog itself. I’m not saying quit everything right now, obviously.

Back to the situation at hand, Sean and I needed to schedule an appointment and our counselor had some very firm expectations and rules that were all from her perspective. She wanted to meet in-person because she felt the energy was best in person. Sean and I actually were preferring virtual just for the sake of time because in San Diego, the commute to see her was 30 minutes to 45 minutes and we just wanted to save that hour to hour and a half drive. We are busy people, and we couldn’t schedule too many sessions ahead of time, which we would’ve preferred to block out in our calendar.

There were a whole bunch of things that were done from her end and we valued her work. So we stuck with it. One time, however, we needed to cancel because Kaylee was home from school sick. So it was a Thursday and we usually saw this counselor on Friday. So Thursday afternoon, Kaylee came home from school sick. We knew Friday she was not going to be able to attend school. So we e-mailed her because that was the process that we had – through e-mail. We didn’t hear back from her for several days for whatever reason. Sometimes that happens, the weekend happens, she doesn’t respond to e-mails and that’s fine. But now we’re going on almost a week of trying back-and-forth e-mails, trying to reschedule long story short because of a scheduling snafu. We didn’t end up seeing her for two months because of scheduling snafus.

So then, when we showed up to see her, Sean and I were not in the best place because we fell out of a rhythm that was working for us. Now, some of this is our own fault because we didn’t take responsibility onto ourselves of bringing independence, I guess you could say, of the work and working outside the session. Where we were when working with her, we were still valuing her objective opinions in helping us to communicate more efficiently. And when we went two months, without that objective opinion, when we finally returned back to see her, we were not in the best space and it opened my eyes. I said, this experience is not working for us. We need consistency. We need a container. We need someone where we can cancel and reschedule with more, ease, more flexibility.

It was nothing personal against her. She was a wonderful practitioner. We got great value out of her sessions. We wanted to go more. However, the container or lack of container, I should say, in her business that she had set up, didn’t support us in helping the goals that we wanted to achieve for our marriage best. So we’ve had to seek out and find another counselor.

I don’t want your people having to do that. There is a difference between your clients, your students, your patients, not working with you because a. they achieve the results that they came for, they’re done, they’re moving on to the next phase of their life – you guys should all celebrate that – b. you and them decide that your program, your expertise or how you run things is not a good fit for them. So you both decide, “Okay, this isn’t working let’s part ways.”

But you don’t want them to be in that “c” scenario where they do want to work with you, but you don’t have the structure, you don’t have the container in place for them to succeed. And it all starts with that onboarding experience because when you think of the onboarding experience from where they’re starting with you and where you will automatically think of where they want to go and how this starting experience with you can facilitate the process of helping them to achieve their results with more ease, flow, comfort.

So then, when they first start working with you, they do feel excited because they’re reassured that they made the right decision. And the way to create that experience for them is to think about them and what they want. What are the goals that they want to achieve? What’s the best way that you can help them to achieve their goals? Not what you want for them, what they want for themselves – there’s a difference. You might know the best way to help them to get there, but you can’t want something that they don’t want. That’s not a good fit.

So think about your people, think about what they want, think about how you can create the experience for them to help them to get there with more ease and also think about what serves your business and your lifestyle as well. And when you do that, it’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. I know that to be true, a hundred percent, as I go forward as the entrepreneur and also as the paying client. Because I know I have experienced containers or lack of containers that don’t work so well. And I’ve experienced wonderful containers that do.


Okay, there you have it! Go onboard your new people.

If you’re struggling getting new people and you want new people, then just reach out to me. I’m here for you!

All right, I’ll see you next week!

Sign more clients this week with this free 5 day training- The Get Clients Blueprint: https://igniteurwellness.com/get-health-coaching-clients/

To learn more about the Awaken 1:1 program where you will sign more clients using a simple proven

process just book your free consultation call with Alison here: https://igniteurwellness.com/business-coach-for-health-coaches/


Alison McLean

"I help the Entrepreneur reduce stress and live a more fulfilled and balanced life."