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Setting the Stage: Perfect Client Onboarding

Invite clientWhen setting up a new client in CoachAccountable, the system makes it super easy to send an invitation email which welcomes them into the system right away.  But you might want to hold off of that for just a short while.  Here’s why.

As coaches we want our clients’ experience of our coaching to be a delight at every step, and their first run experience with CoachAccountable is no different.  By taking 5-10 minutes on a new client BEFORE inviting them in you can set things up so that they’ll immediately feel right at home.

First things first: your smiling face.  This actually isn’t something you have to do for every client, rather just once and you’ll be set for everyone.  The very first thing your clients will see when they click the magic registration link is the registration page.  If you’ve got your own headshot uploaded to your coach account, they’ll see that photo of you and instantly know they’re in the right place. Oh, and if you’ve set up your branding, this page will show with your colors and logo, too.

A picture of you lets your client know they’re in the right place. This is most reassuring for a technophobe.

Once your client registers their user account with you, unless you’ve intervened they’ll be greeted by a blank slate for what’s next:

This looks pretty enough, yes, but it doesn’t provide your client with a lot of clues as to what business they have here in this fancy, newfangled online system.

The other tabs are also friendly and inviting, but similarly suffer from the same problem of being not at all  personalized to what your client would or should care about:

So we instead want to set the stage.  Setting the stage means our clients are going to immediately know what’s going on, understand how things fit together, and appreciate why that’s cool.

Fortunately for us it’s pretty simple: just adding in a few items will make all the difference.  Here are some that I recommend:

Notes from their last session.  Just a few paragraphs and/or bullet points will do.  If this is a truly new client, then briefly write up your understanding of what they have at stake for coaching.  Really anything that conveys “here’s what’s going on for you, here’s what we’re going to work on, and here’s the game moving forward” will work beautifully.

A few Actions with precise deadlines.  Add however many are appropriate to the situation.  These may be basic tasks you have to get any new client started, or items that concern projects already underway.  I recommend one that’s due very soon called “Mark your first Action complete” so that they can see what it’s like to do just that.  A little visual candy and feedback from the machine will make it very satisfying for them (have you seen what it’s like when you mark one complete yourself?).

A shared file or two.  If you have typical “getting started” resources this is the perfect time to share them, and doing so gives your client practice with accessing files in the system.  You might tie this in with an Action that references a shared file, e.g. “Read our Coaching Practices document”.

A Worksheet assignment.  Perhaps you’d like a new client to take a few minutes and fill out a little Worksheet pertaining to getting started with your coaching.  Since you’re just setting the stage right now, be certain to NOT send your client a notification about the Worksheet (which at this point would amount to jumping the gun).

The next scheduled Appointment.  If you know when your next coaching session will be, set that up with a useful reminder or two.  It’ll appear in their “Up Next” listing and they’ll be able to set reminders about it for themselves as well.

A Metric.  Metrics are the most intimidating feature of CoachAccountable, but when you see one all set up (especially with a target set and a few data points already in there) they quickly make a lot of sense.  If there is any sort of measurable progress that you’ll be working on with your client, make a Metric to track it.  If you’re lucky enough to have a few data points from the recent past you can back-date the Metric and add that data in straightaway–a really nice touch to have your client get excited about what you’re working towards.

If you can add all of the above for a new client that is, of course, fantastic.  But even if you only add in two or three your client will immediately see that this system is tailored specifically to what they’re working on, and they’ll see for themselves how the pieces fit together (and likely feel comfortable straightaway with setting up things for themselves).

Do you have a fairly set series of onboarding items? You can actually set this sequence up ahead of time for ALL your clients as a Course, then just enroll each new client into said Course.

When this is the first thing your client sees, they recognize the account as lovingly set up just for them.

Once the stage is set, THEN the time is ideal to go ahead and invite them.  Just go to the “Clients” tab on your dashboard and click the big “Invite” button on your client:

Doing this right is the stuff of having your clients immediately loving your system, and appreciating the organization and attention to detail of your coaching.

It’s worth the effort, ESPECIALLY when making first impressions.

Ready to set up a simple onboarding series for your clients and get them pumped about using software to achieve their goals more efficiently? Sign up – it’s free for 30 days.


  1. Julie Woods

    Fantastic article about how to start! I LOVE your writing, John!

    January 23, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

  2. Jason Malham

    Great ideas. Very glad I read this before sending this first invite. Thanks!

    February 7, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  3. Perfect guidance before client invite. Glad you included this info, it made me more excited about preparing an online environment to support my clients success.

    October 8, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

  4. very nice John. I’m curious if you had thought about, or plan to do something with templates in the future… I.E. ability to load up templates for types of clients and then modify to suit. Just a time saver really. And as i prefer to keep the experience as customized as can be, i also like to be efficient when and where i can too. :)

    Something like worksheet templates for example, but for setting up new clients to onboard.

    curious to hear your thoughts on this.

    Stay Fresh,


    July 14, 2015 @ 11:02 pm

  5. John

    Hi Jamie,

    I’ve got you covered in this regard: to create templates for setting up new clients to onboard you’ve got the so-called Starter Kit Course. Give it a look!

    July 14, 2015 @ 11:05 pm

  6. Gregg Jones

    thank you for helping us be thoughtful

    October 21, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

  7. Hi John,

    Adding my first client to the system today and would never have thought of the details you’ve suggested here.

    Just have to keep reminding myself to “follow the bouncing ball”

    To Life!


    January 23, 2018 @ 11:14 am

  8. Iain thomson

    Hi john, if I want to have my clients have access to a library of files when they sign up am I able to have a set template for each new client that avoids me having to add each file manually when setting them up, ie a copy client template.. Is that possible currently

    October 7, 2019 @ 3:21 pm

  9. John

    Hi Iain,

    Good question, and that is indeed possible! That’s the stuff of you making a Starter Kit Course.

    October 7, 2019 @ 3:30 pm

  10. Curtiss Calhoun

    Great info. Really helped me out.

    May 16, 2021 @ 3:35 pm

  11. Sue L.

    Hi John,

    I’m just getting started with CA. I greatly appreciate the tips on using a starter course template to use with all new clients! Currently though, I am wondering if there is a similarly simple way to onboard my current clients, as I transfer them over from another online platform. (I have already loaded them into your system, but haven’t officially invited them yet.)

    March 15, 2022 @ 5:13 pm