Filling that Client Pipeline

The key to running a smooth - and less stressful!! - business is by having a full client pipeline! You want to be able to look ahead for the next 12-18 months and know that your income will be solid and you'll be busy. But this isn't a task that can just be reviewed and then checked off of a list. Reaching potential new clients is an ongoing job! So how DO you make sure that your client pipeline is continuously full? Here are four things you can do now to keep a steady pace in your workflow (and cash flow!).

1. Plan It

If you don't have a client pipeline document, start one NOW. Map out the projects and customers that you have for the next 12-18 months, including when payments will come in for each job. Then, look for the gaps, especially in your income! Because we all have overhead that we have to meet every single month in our companies, we need to ensure that we're at least hitting that number! Where could you use another job or two? What months look a little light and could use a cash infusion? This helps you hold on to cash in months that are more productive for those times when you'll need a little more money to get through. AND it shows you where you could take on another project to fill the gap.

2. Check Your Services

If you do have gaps, are there any other services you could offer to fill in? Those could be shorter all-consulting sessions, or times when you take on a quick project that won't take a lot of time but could give you a shot of income just when you need it. Don't add anything that will take too much time from your core business, though! That's what sustains your company overall. Instead, look for things you can add on that have a low overhead and a nice fee. If the profit margin is higher, it's a great way to supplement what you're already doing!

3. Market All the Time!

Marketing is another thing that you can't just do once or twice and then forget about. You should have an ongoing and targeted marketing plan for your business. Be SMART about how you decide to market. Put your money where it will do the most good! Print advertising (unfortunately) doesn't pay off as much as it once did - unless your doing something hyperlocal. But you can target social ads, reach out via networking and grassroots campaigns, AND hit some great clients through direct mail. Know where your clients are and meet them THERE! (Check out this blog for new ways to think about marketing.)

4. Spread the Word

The #1 way that most companies STILL get the bulk of their clients is through referrals. So you have GOT to work that angle non-stop! When you finish a project, always always ask for referrals. Make this a part of your client offboarding process. Keep in touch with former clients to keep your company name top-of-mind for them! Meet with contractors, real estate agents, and architects to talk about how you can refer business to each other. And network where you could meet potential ideal clients. I like to plan at least 2 networking lunches every month to talk with potential partners and former clients! And I send emails to my former clients to check in with them and let them know what my company is up to. It really pays off!

Of course, once you have that potential client in your sights, you also need to close the deal!! I can help with that! Download my FREE Guide to Meeting with Potential Clients here. Now go fill that pipeline up!! 

Check out more design business tips and tricks

5 Tips for Reviewing Yearly Goals

How to Make Your Goals Personal

How to Make More Money

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