Closing projects is lots of fun. I mean, it’s the time you get to send invoices and get money into your bank account. You get a rush from that feeling of success and of course that’s it — the project is over, right?

Well yes. Sort of. The project work may be finished, but the relationship is really just beginning. And the way you end a project will have a significant impact on the beginning of your relationship with your client.

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So how do you make sure you end a project well? Let’s take a look.

Send them their assets

First off, make sure your clients have all the assets they’re entitled to. For my business, I just give them the originals of everything. Some businesses really only sell usage rights to the work so they don’t provide all the original files.

Even if I’ve already sent my clients the assets at different times during the project I bundle everything up in to a single file and send them everything in one shot. That way they don’t have to go searching through all the many spots they may have put items. You want to make it easy for your client to have everything they need.

This step does a bit more than just show how professional you are, because it benefits you as well. This extra step actually prevents some of the extra emails you get months later when a client looks for a file that they simply can’t find. Of course we always want to help clients, but if by doing so we can also cut administrative tasks on our end, we should do just that.

The end is the beginning

There I was on the phone with a new prospect showing them work I’ve done before. We visited one client site, and much to my embarrassment it was not the site I had built for them.

Sure it was two years later, but when I last talked to the client they loved working with me. I simply figured that I’d get the next bit of work that they had.

When I later reached out to them my contact had changed and the new person had asked around about who did the old site. Everyone remembered being very happy with my work but no one had any idea who I was. It no longer mattered how awesome I was if they didn’t remember me.

By simply adding a few things to my regular project close down routine I’ve been able to keep top of mind with my clients.

Set up your long-term marketing follow-up

To keep top of mind for that awesome client you need to make sure that they’re in your long-term marketing follow-up program. I use Contactually and put the clients I want to work with again in a Bucket that prompts me to follow up every four months.

Some clients end up not having work for years but keeping in touch keeps me at the top of their mind for the next bit of work.

Maybe they don’t have work but their friend/colleague needs something and since I’m top of mind they’re happy to refer me.

Each year many of my projects come from clients I haven’t worked with in years but because I kept in touch I was their first thought when something came up.

Neglecting this step in closing a project can mean the difference between running a profitable business and barely scraping by.

Say thanks

One of the final things that many business owners miss is saying thanks to their client, but it’s a crucial step in having an awesome business.

This person just gave you money to pay your employees and your bills and do all the things you love to do. A little thanks is in order.

I send a handwritten card to every one of my clients. Well actually, my wife writes the card, I email her what to say in it and where to send it.

For some of my awesome clients (you know, the ones you can’t wait to work with again) I send a custom Lego Minifig. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s just a computer programmer but sometimes we’ve talked about something in the project that inspires me, like when I sent a cycling client a cyclist minifig.

If you’re not doing at least these three things when you close down a project, you’re leaving business on the table. It’s time to up your game and show how professional you are by making sure you close down your project properly:

  • Send your client all their assets
  • Put the client in your long-term follow-up
  • Make sure you say thanks

If you need help getting your long-term client follow-up working well, I’d love to talk.

photo credit: echo9er cc