Getting everything set up with a new client or customer can involve a lot of admin work, and is the perfect process to automate as much as possible.

One of my clients was spending a lot of time on the repetitive tasks involved in their intake process, and signups were only increasing. With their business growing as quickly as it was, the office had reached the point where they couldn’t afford to spend so much time just on intake, so they contacted me.

The Original, Slow Process

When they contacted me, my client was doing all this manually after an inquirer had been directed to and filled out the signup form:

  1. Create a shared folder
  2. Copy-paste in needed files
  3. Sharing the folder with the person who signed up
  4. Copy-pasting information from the signup form to a spreadsheet
  5. Getting correctly formatted and complete addresses from anyone who’d given an incomplete address when filling out the signup form (waiting for responses here often created delays in intake)
  6. Sending out contract to be signed (another cause for delays, these usually even longer)
  7. Putting the signed contract into the folder

They kept track of where each new signup was in the intake process using a Trello board, and had several small automations to help cut down on the copy-pasting.

Not only was the process time-consuming for the office (there were new signups coming in every day, nearing in on 200 in total when they contacted me), but they were getting some complaints about how many steps were involved in the full intake process. Everyone needed this to be simpler.

The Automated Solution

Step 1: Find a better form

My client needed their form to do four things that the current setup couldn’t handle:

  1. Fields that validated the information in them, especially for addresses
  2. A signature field that could legally be used for signing contracts
  3. A way to create a pdf of the completed form
  4. Added fields for info that would be helpful but which was too much to handle manually

The solution? Gravity Forms, plus the signature and pdf add-ons.

Gravity Forms has an address field that prompts all the information my client needed (the previous form only had a single text line for the address field), and allows you to create a form with one page for signup information and a second for a contract to sign.

In an added bonus, Gravity Forms integrates directly with Convertkit, which my client used for their email list. This meant that I was able to make sure that email addresses and any other relevant information that signups put into the form could be sent to Convertkit to automatically add them to the list and sent them a verification email.

Once I’d created the form and connected Convertkit, I added an email notification with a pdf attached to it of the completed form. This let the office know that there was a new signup and also made an important action possible in the next step.

Step 2: Connect everything else with Zapier

The core conundrum of this process was getting all the different services my client used to talk to each other. These services included:

  • Gravity Forms
  • signups database
  • filesharing
  • email

My client also needed information from the form added to their accounting software and CRM, but hadn’t added that to the process due to how much time the office was already spending on intake.

The best solution here for my client was to use Zapier to connect everything and get all these services communicating with each other. It was able to do nearly everything:

  • copy all the needed information from the form into the database, CRM, and accounting software
  • create and populate the shared folder (by duplicating needed files and grabbing the pdf from email to put in that person’s folder)

All the office had to do in the end was share the folder with the new signup. And all the signups had to do was fill out a form. Easy peasy.

Step 3: Archive everything that was no longer needed

Once I had the automation set up and running, it was time to retire everything that the new automation had replaced:

  • the Trello board keeping track of the intake process
  • Evernote tracking information gained in the intake process
  • canned emails asking for people to sign contracts
  • the old form
  • 4 simple IFTTT automations
  • 1 small zap in Zapier

These were all turned off, removed, or archived as necessary for a final back end cleanup.

The Result: No More Headaches

In the end, the new intake automation cut the time the office directly spent on the process in half, while also completely removing the delays that plagued the old process.

Instead of the original seven steps for the office to complete after someone filled out the signup form, all they had to do now was share the folder the automation created. And not only that, but the automation handled four more tasks than the original process could handle, all without compromising on speed or efficiency.

Even better? The process was easier for people signing up, too. They could get everything the old process needed them to do right at the start, and the information they gave was well formatted and complete.

In sum: my client’s intake was now faster, easier, done with less mistakes, and more was accomplished with less work for everyone.

That’s the power of automation.


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