When you get a call from a prospective client, you likely feel excited. A new challenge has presented itself. You’re looking forward to getting to know this person and seeing if they're a good fit for your services, guiding them through identifying their goals and, hopefully, living a more satisfying life.
Before jumping in, some housekeeping (and filtering) is in order. We’re referring to the client intake process. You may dread tedious administrative tasks. But a client intake form template makes this easy and ensures you get the vital information necessary to provide effective training to any client.
Let’s explore why new client forms are essential and how to use intake questions to take on the right clients and inform your practice. We’ll even provide you with a free template to get started.
What’s an intake form?
An intake form captures basic client information like the person’s name, date of birth, and address, as well as nuanced information about why they’re seeking your services. The latter helps you decide whether a client is a good fit for your services and allows you to start brainstorming a coaching program for this person.
Remember: Intake forms aren't client onboarding documents. They’re not interchangeable with pre-coaching questionnaires, which you would use for enrolled clients. Instead, think of a client intake form like a brief biography and a snapshot of a potential client’s needs. This first impression will help you decide whether you’d work well together and be important for your records.
Why you should have client intake forms
Client intake forms are far from a chore. These documents help you and your clients clarify the scope of your work together. The following are key benefits of a client intake process and why you should consider implementing one:
- Having a formalized intake process showcases professionalism, even before you start working with a client.
- The responses on the new client intake form help you decide whether the client’s a good fit for your services. You’ll easily spot a client who may be better suited to another type of coaching and refer them to a colleague.
- With this needs and goals snapshot, you can plan coaching strategies and show up to your first meeting prepared.
- You’ll have accurate client contact and invoicing data on file.
Client intake fields and questions
You want the client snapshot your intake form provides to be as clear and complete as possible. It’s your job to guide the client by asking them the right questions. We recommend including the following fields and saving the document as an editable template.
- Basic information. Ask for the client’s name, the date, and their email address and phone number.
- Why the person is seeking coaching services. Have the client tell you a little about their current goals. Format this field as an open-ended question to help you understand what they’re hoping to achieve.
- How they heard about your services. Finding out how a potential client ended up requesting information from you will help you collect data on which marketing methods are — or aren’t — working.
- Anything else they need to include. Having an open section like a “Notes” at the end ensures clients can list anything else relevant, from coaching history to their medical history or career status, depending on the coaching they seek.
How to streamline your client intake process
The intake process encourages the coach and client to start on the right foot. Aim for a painless, streamlined process that makes clients feel like they’re taking the first step toward their goals. Here are a few best practices to help get the process right.
- Keep it short, sweet, and user-friendly. A client should be able to fill out an intake form in a few minutes. The document should give you an overview of the person’s situation and allow them to describe what they hope to get out of working with you. There’s no need for a lengthy form, as you’ll have plenty of time to dive into details during the first session. Never ask for information you won’t use. Not only is this a waste of space, but asking the client to provide erroneous information could generate mistrust.
- Mention next steps. At the bottom of the form, outline what happens next. If you send an online form to prospective clients, perhaps the next step is for them to set up an appointment. If it’s up to you to contact the client, let them know when they’ll hear from you.
- Store patient information. Securely store patient information in your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Remind the client somewhere on the form that you protect their data and would never release it to a third party. If you’re using Practice, you can easily add a client’s data, like contact information, to their profile. Get this task out of the way as soon as possible to maintain good organizational control of your intake process.
These are essential pieces of information to have before starting the coaching process, and having a template ready ensures you record all of them. You can use our free template as a starting point or tailor it to suit your needs.
Ready to take on a new client?
Whether you’re a new coach or have been in the business for some time, you can improve your practice by continuing your education.
That’s why we provide content to help coaches learn how to run workflows more smoothly and implement processes — like a client intake procedure — that make them better professionals.
Before taking on your next new client, check out a few of our articles on best practices for coaches: