5 indications your business needs a Timeline & Process sheet
As I’m still on the business resource bandwagon, I wanted to share another one that has made the business side of design a lot easier - process and timeline sheets for services provided! I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to invest in a service or product and there are certain steps involved, I personally want to know what I am getting into which is why I’ve had these process and timeline sheets linked to from my services for a while and I think any business would benefit from having one (or more).
When I say Timeline & Process, this is what I am talking about:
A sheet that has a bit of info for your clients on what the process and timeline/schedule is going to look like, that you can either send them via email or have them download from your website.
So let’s get into why your business might need something like this!
01. Every third email is an enquiry about how long something will take/what the process is
The biggest indication you need something like a process and timeline sheet on your website or somewhere handy you can send via email - when you constantly field questions about how long something is going to take, or what’s involved, or what part do they play in all of this.
If this is you and your business currently, I highly recommend creating a breakdown sheet like the above. Mine is pretty brief as I like to keep things short and sweet and not overwhelming but you can totally have a few pages and write up exactly what’s going to happen and when, especially if your process has a few steps/key milestones.
So instead of writing it out every single time, you can have a bit of a template you can send which saves you time. Obviously this works better on pre-set packages or services which stay mostly the same, but you could still have a few often asked about processes up your sleeve too to help with the emails.
02. Your clients are missing due dates and deadlines
It can be tough when your clients/customers aren’t meeting deadlines and also very easy to place the blame on them for not understanding the importance of what’s needed from them and when. At the end of the day, we need to look to our own processes to see if there is a way we can alleviate this particular challenge and ensure our clients are educated enough to know just how important their input is and sticking to a timeline is.
You can try and send lots of reminder emails AFTER a project has started as a way to treat the problem, but a way to mitigate or prevent it happening can come in the form of just being super transparent from the beginning about your process and what’s needed.
03. Your clients don’t know what’s needed of them
This is sort of a flow on from Indication 2, your clients/customers don’t know the integral role they play in your process. As service-providers, we often preach about being the one-stop shop for clients and I feel this does increase the expectation that we literally do EVERYTHING and all the client needs to do is pay us. While this would be great, there is definitely input needed in order for the project to keep ticking along.
So a way to highlight this is by actually highlighting both your roles in a timeline & process sheet, so they can see what you are up to and when something is needed from them and what that ‘thing’ is - it will be different for every business niche of course and some services will require less or more input.
04. You want to try and demystify your process and timelines as much as possible/you have quite a complex process and/or find it hard to explain
Have a bit of a long/complex process and/or it’s quite a big investment financially and your clients want to know what’s going to be happening? You need a timeline and process breakdown. The more info and pre-warning you can give them (without overwhelming of course) is going to get them on board and sign up, because they can put trust in you that you have everything totally planned out, which leads us onto number 5!
05. You want to look like you know what you are doing (because you do!)
Ever heard the term - expert in your field? It’s like a buzzword (buzzphrase? IDK), basically it means elevating your service or offering above others in your niche and presenting yourself as a bit of an expert on the subject. You aren’t tooting your own horn, your simply putting it out there that you are established, prepared, ready to tackle the project and know how to go about it.
By having a bit of a prepared timeline and schedule, you are showcasing your unique process and the steps required, demystifying what will happen and building that trust up with prospective clients - great right?!
In summary, I think having a resource like this easily identifiable on your website or ready to send when you get an enquiry is an excellent way to get clients on board and educated! And not only are you educating them on your unique process, you are helping that person in future to know what the deal is if they approach another business in future about a similar service. Empowered and educated clients help us all!
If you love the above template and idea, but don’t have the time to create your own? I’ve created an Indesign template you can purchase and customise to your own business! Change the text, fonts, colours and make it your own.