A new subscriber to my newsletter replied to one of my emails asking readers to share their challenges or questions about their business. Here is a note I received from Megan:
My biggest challenges are attracting new clients, nailing the interview, closing the sale. I want a response from potential clients within a week. Some never respond, and the ones that do say they want to hire me haven't paid me in about three weeks. I am guessing I need to be clearer about time frames and putting the correct wording in my contract.
With regard to responses from potential clients, I suggest including a welcome letter
in the interview packet
that you give out. Your welcome letter allows you to:
- Introduce yourself
- Briefly describe your philosophy
- List the contents of your interview packet
- Explain what's next following the interview and how to hire you.
In my welcome letter, here is my paragraph on "next steps":
I take no more than two doula clients each month. After today's meeting, I will reserve a space for you on my calendar for seven days. Should you choose to hire me, please call or email me within this period to let me know of your decision, and mail the signed copies of the contract with your deposit to the address listed below. After seven days, if I have not received your response, I will release the space being held for other potential clients.
Alternatively, you can instruct your potential client to email you a PDF copy the signed contract and request an invoice to pay by credit card or PayPal.
Toward the end of an interview, I give the couple I'm meeting with my interview packet and briefly cover its contents. I show them my rates page and contract, give them deposit and final payment information, let them know I'll hold space for them in my calendar for seven days, and explain how they can confirm a permanent spot with a signed contract and deposit.
Follow-up after the interview is important. Everyone is busy, and it's easy for a week to pass and deadlines to slip by. You don't want to be a pest, but you do want to remind potential clients to make a commitment or let you know they won't need your services. If you are giving potential clients a week to hire you, I would suggest following up twice:
- Following the interview, either send a thank you email or drop a thank you card in the mail. Some doulas I know keep thank you cards with them, along with stamps and return address labels so they can write a thank you note immediately following the interview and drop it in a mailbox. In your note, thank them for meeting with you, encourage them to contact you with questions, and end by saying you look forward to working with them. If you are emailing them and there were questions during the interview that you needed to find an answer to, this is a good time to address those questions with links to answers or resources.
- Five days after the interview, if you haven't heard from them, send an email to check in. Ask if there are any questions you can answer and remind them that you are holding space in your calendar for two more days.
Hopefully, you will have found out by the seventh day (or your deadline) whether you've been hired. If you haven't, it would be a good idea to call to inquire about their decision before you release the space. If you aren't able to reach them and haven't received a response, release the space for another client. If they happen to call you within a few days to hire you and you have room in your calendar, great, if not, remind them of your hold policy and tell them you were hired for those dates. You may also want to refer that person to another doula or two if you're unable to take them on.
You can request a free copy of my Doula Interview Welcome Letter (MS Word document) below and customize it for your use. Find a pack of pretty paper that you can print your letters onto for a nice touch. I hope you find it helpful to craft your own Welcome Letter.