Client Intake Forms for Small Business – Best Practices, Examples, and More

Overhead shot of person on computer creating a client intake form

A client intake form is an excellent information-gathering tool for learning whether a prospective client is a good fit for your business. Knowing what they need as you begin a relationship with them will save you time, resources, and effort.

Two clients working through a client onboarding checklist

Not everyone who’s interested in your service becomes a feasible business opportunity. Data suggests that up to 79% of leads never translate into sales. This can happen for numerous reasons, one of which is as simple as the prospect not being a good match. 

Your business may not have the ability to meet some clients’ needs, and that’s okay. Learning this on time will enable you to center your attention on potential clients whose expectations you can fulfill. 

When implemented correctly, a client intake form will provide you with valuable insights. It will enable you to better understand your prospective clients as well as those who are ready to book and move forward with client onboarding. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to using this powerful tool in your favor.

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What is a client intake form?

Getting to know your potential clients is the first step toward building a strong business relationship with them. Asking the right questions will allow you to decide whether you should nurture the relationship any further.

A client intake form is a tool through which you can directly ask clients what they need from you and how you can help solve their problems. It’s also where you can gather any necessary background information.

Having a properly designed client intake form will make your life much easier and spare you many headaches in the long run. It will enable you to filter out weaker leads who may leave you hanging at the end of the day. 

Who can benefit from using client intake forms?

Anyone who provides a service to customers could benefit from using a client intake form. Some of the types of businesses that commonly turn to this tool to learn more about new or potential clients include the following:

  • Real estate agencies: Gather a client’s list of requirements for new real estate.
  • Accounting firms: Collect information on a client’s personal and business background as well as their financial goals.
  • Photographers and videographers: Gather inspiration and examples of shots a client wants.
  • Wellness coaches: Gather information about the client’s wellness needs, their habits, and the treatments they seek.
  • Personal trainers: Collect information on a client’s current condition and future goals.
  • Marketing agencies: Gather inspiration for branding and copywriting.

As exemplified above, in addition to asking standard client background questions, each business owner can also gain information specific to their client’s business from the intake form.

Crafting a useful client intake form

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula to creating a client intake form. The questions you ask will depend greatly on your type of business and industry. Here are some of the questions you could choose to include on your form templates:

  • Personal client information: details such as your client’s name, home address, and mobile number
  • Budgetary information: what your customer can afford—or is willing—to spend on your services
  • Service requirements: any information about what your client needs, wants, or expects from your services
  • Background information: depending on the service you provide, could include any records that would help you perform your job better 
  • Brand information: when applicable, includes your customer’s values, mission, objectives, and more
  • Inspiration: any references that showcase your client’s vision

Your client intake form will also require you to add any relevant information about your business. Don’t forget to include your contact details so that your clients can reach out with any questions they might have.

Pro tip: If you need to collect confidential information, make sure to abide by international data protection and privacy legislation

Client intake form template

There are numerous sites across the web that offer free client intake form templates for you to use. However, it’s recommended that you build your own so that you can tailor it to your specific needs. HoneyBook enables small-business owners like you to create interactive intake forms. Here’s a general outline you could use to model your questionnaire through HoneyBook’s drag-and-drop features:

Basic InformationFull Name
Company Name
Website URL
Social Profiles
Industry
Contact InformationMobile Phone
Secondary Number
Email Address
Address
Preferred Contact Method
Preferred Contact Times
Preferred Pronouns
Project DetailsBudget
Timeline
Project Goal
Previous Experience
Inspiration/Examples
Important Documents
Login Access

Although not necessary, you may include onboarding questions on your form. You could also add a section to fill out during a kickoff call or add a separate set of instructions prompting your clients to upload supporting files. HoneyBook’s client portal allows clients to submit their files safely and effortlessly. 

Best practices for creating an effective client intake form

There’s more to crafting a solid intake form than collecting information. You’ll need to:

  • Keep things short and to the point: to ensure your potential clients will actually want to answer your questionnaire. 
  • Make it user-friendly: to enhance the customer experience. 
  • Use a digital form: to allow your clients to fill it out whenever they have the time. 
  • Make it accessible: to make your form easy to read with contrasting colors and accessible fonts.
  • Brand the form: to turn your form into a seamless part of the client experience.
  • Make your form mobile friendly: to enable clients to use any device to fill it out. 

Pro Tip: Remember, less is more. Avoid asking for information you don’t need, and stick to data that will help you perform your job better and more professionally.

Advantages of a streamlined client intake process

A client intake form empowers you to provide a more professional, higher-quality service that exceeds your client’s expectations. Some other benefits of streamlining your client intake process with a questionnaire are:

  • Improving the customer experience
  • Saving time and resources
  • Building trust
  • Establishing authority
  • Optimizing your work
  • Avoiding scope creep

Asking the right questions on your form will let you start a new business relationship on the right foot. Additionally, it will give you the resources you need to effectively plan for your work.

Moving forward with your own intake forms

Sometimes, deciding whether a prospect has the potential to turn into a fruitful business relationship can be challenging. Still, nobody wants to waste valuable resources pursuing a potential customer who is, in fact, not interested in what the business has to offer. A client intake form is a reliable way to learn which clients are worth your time.

To save even more time, use HoneyBook to build your client intake form templates. For each client, you can easily personalize the template and reuse it – saving you time from having to compile different documents and questions.

How to Beat Burnout for the Busiest Entrepreneur

Learn how to beat burnout and cultivate a beautiful work-life balance even if everything feels urgent at work and home. 

As a busy entrepreneur, you are on a mission to beat burnout and cultivate a beautiful work-life balance. You want to have an extraordinary career combined with an extraordinary life. But, how can you do this when everything feels urgent?

Running a business and keeping a fulfilling life can be a challenge if you are not intentional with how and where you are spending your time. When enemies of productivity constantly threaten to ruin your day and send you into a tailspin, you almost feel that burnout is inevitable.

Let’s talk about the warning signs of burnout, the enemies that can push you there, and how to beat burnout once and for all.

What are the warning signs of burnout?

If you are like many of us, you might have hit burnout in the past. You know what it looks like–and most certainly what it feels like–when you are inside it. You don’t want to go back to that feeling. How can you realize you are headed for burnout before you get there?

The fun stuff isn’t fun anymore

Did you use to love writing interesting blog posts to share with your clients and now it all just feels like work? Did you always jump for joy when it was time for family game night, but now it just seems like another thing on your never-ending to-do list? Did you love happy hour with your entrepreneur pals and now you just want to say no? When the fun stuff doesn’t feel fun anymore, you know you are dangerously close to burnout.

Your motivation fades but doesn’t come back

We all lose motivation sometimes. Motivation is never a constant and can be impacted by your health, food, habits, mood, and so many other factors. However, if you start waking up day after day unmotivated, this is another sign that burnout might be close.

You start questioning EVERYTHING

You can feel those cynical feelings start to creep in and make you question everything you are doing.

  • “Maybe I am not cut out for entrepreneurship?”
  • “Is this all even worth it?”
  • “Why did I think I could do this?”
  • “Will I ever even be close to where he is in business?”
  • When those skeptical messages start to plague you, burnout is near.

You are just so tired

Exhaustion is a big sign of burnout. Are you waking up tired even after you get a full night’s sleep? Are you groggy and foggy throughout the day? Being overtired, especially if there is not a clear reason, is another sign that burnout might be looming.

Avoid these enemies of productivity

The best way to beat burnout is with engaged productivity–that feeling of being absorbed and aligned with what you are doing. Have you felt that feeling? The feeling that time has somehow faded away and you are completely in your element?

When you are trying to do everything, everything feels rushed and urgent. You have no space for time to fade away. When you are truly engaged in your activities, time feels like it has no end and happiness follows. So, what are the enemies of engaged productivity?

Terrible time-wasters are sucking your time and distracting your progress.

We all have things in our lives that tend to waste our time or distract us the most. You might watch too many back-to-back Netflix episodes or scroll social media for more time than you want. You might take a lot of snack breaks out of your home office.

You might also be getting stuck in some lesser-known time-wasters. Are you constantly checking email all day long? Are you doing never-ending research but not starting the project? Are you task-jumping, multitasking, or trying to tackle a way-too-long to-do list? (Check out The Table of Terrible Time-Wasters for more!)

All these terrible time-wasters prevent actual productivity and result in spinning your wheels instead of clear and decisive action. Reducing time-wasters in your everyday life gives you the open space you are craving.

Find out where your time is going

How many times have you ended your day and said to yourself, “Wow, I don’t even know what I did today?” If you are like a lot of busy entrepreneurs, the answer is too many.

When you don’t know where you are spending your time, you can’t change it. You can’t control it. You can’t figure out what is working and what is not working. The best way to know what is happening in your typical day is to track your time. Spend 24-72 hours tracking what you do every 15 minutes. It might sound like a lot of work, but the results are often astounding. 

Once you know exactly how you are spending your time, you can strategically and intentionally get rid of those time-wasters, open up white space, add in things that make you gloriously happy (keep reading for more on that!), and beat burnout in the process. 

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Did I spend more time doing something than I expected?
  • Did I spend less time doing something than I expected?
  • Are there tasks that take me longer than I thought they did?
  • Are there tasks that take much less time than I thought they did?
  • Do I have areas where I am wasting time or losing time?
  • When am I most productive?
  • When am I least productive?
  • What can I delegate or delete from my task list? (My favorite!)

Once you know your time wasters, you can also use block scheduling to make it easier to avoid them. With a set schedule, you can still make time to browse TikTok or read the news, you’re just making sure you aren’t doing it during a time when you could be more productive.

How to beat burnout once and for all

You know the warning signs. You’ve finally rid yourself of terrible time wasters. You know where your time is going and you are ready to beat burnout once and for all. What do you do now?

1. Cultivate energy

One reason to track your time is to determine where you are most productive and have the highest energy. Then, use those times to your advantage. 

Do you wake up in the morning with a brain bursting with ideas? Use that. Do you tuck your kids or your pets in at night and get a pop of energy? Use that. Those creative times in your day are your superpower. When you can get more done in less time by using your natural energy patterns, you win every day. 

2. Stop waiting for motivation to strike

Being exhausted, overstressed, overtired, anxious, and overwhelmed destroys motivation. Don’t wait for motivation to strike. It might not, especially if you are feeling close to burnout. Simply take action. Even tiny actions can put the first domino in motion. When you get going, motivation follows.

3. Plan to plan

Choose a time to plan out each month, week and day. If you are not taking a wider look at your goals and tasks, you are less likely to meet them–even if it is just to cook dinner every night instead of picking up takeout or playing with your kids for a solid hour every day. You are also more likely to be overwhelmed by your schedule when you are not intentional about it. The best part about planning is that you can build in the white space you need to think, dream, rest, or do anything you love most. 

4. Focus on happiness 

Research tells us some special things about happiness, and as you will see, these things are the opposite of burnout.

  • Happy people are more patient. 
  • Happy people have better relationships.
  • Happy people can see the big picture with more clarity.
  • Happy people make more money.
  • Happy people have better immunity and live longer.
  • Happy people are more productive at work.
  • Happy people manage stress better.
  • Happy people have healthier lifestyles.
  • Happy people feel more control over their lives.

Get out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the things that make you happy, big and small. Don’t write things that should make you happy. Write only things that make you happy. Then, decide to do something that makes you happy. single. day. 

You will find that by intentionally focusing on activities that bring you joy, you bring yourself further away from the cliff of burnout.

4. Find your tribe

If you want to be productive, happy, motivated, have high energy, take care of your health, and live your best life, hang out with people who are doing the same. Imitation and accountability go a long way. Find your local or virtual tribe, dive in, and you will naturally model their behaviors.

You started a business because you wanted freedom, flexibility, and impact. You didn’t start a business to be unbalanced, overwhelmed, and suffering from burnout. By putting these strategies into practice, you can beat burnout and instead feel the energy, enthusiasm, and motivation you are longing for in both your work and your beautiful life.

Efficient business, efficient owner

When your business is running efficiently, it means you’re working more efficiently. My last tip for avoiding burnout is to prioritize more efficient and streamlined processes. Start by mapping your clientflow to understand where there are gaps in your entire process of selling and delivering services. If there’s any process friction, it’s probably putting a strain on your business (and you!).

To optimize your clientflow, use a clientflow management platform like HoneyBook. You can build powerful automation, connect with your clients seamlessly, and move them through your workflows without any hiccups.

What to Say When Your Client Asks to Do It Cheaper 

man answering pricing questions on his laptop

“Could I get a discount? Your pricing is over my budget.” If you’ve ever received a request like that, you know how frustrating it can be. Here’s exactly what to say when your client asks to do it cheaper so you can retain their business or gracefully decline.

man answering pricing questions on his laptop

You understand better than anyone how much effort and dedication goes into running your own business. Which is why one of the most frustrating questions to answer is: “Why do you cost so much?” 

As annoying as it is, we’ve got good news and even better news. First, let’s celebrate that someone is interested enough in your services to inquire. It might not sound like they’re all that interested, but if that were true, they wouldn’t have bothered reaching out. 

When you’re evaluating customer fit, budget is a big factor. But if they’re asking for a cheaper price, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to skip on that project. Here’s a foolproof method to make it easy to respond when your client asks to do it cheaper. 

Get our free email response guide for pricing questions

In collaboration with Galler.ee, the premier template shop for entrepreneurs, we created a free email response guide with a pre-written response for “why do you cost so much?” Download the guide below to get started. 

Make the response your own

Using our pre-written template as a guide, follow thesesteps to respond when clients ask you to do it cheaper.

Acknowledge the question 

As challenging as it is to answer a question about your pricing,, it’s important not to despair. Your inquiry has demonstrated interest and intent—they’ve reached out with the hopes of getting something in return. Now is your chance to convert them into a client by acknowledging their question, instead of ignoring it altogether or getting defensive. They can always say no, but they can’t say yes if you don’t respond. 

Describe behind-the-scenes work 

Chances are, if you’re getting this question, you’re an expert and master at your craft. Clients see your great work, but not all of the effort that goes into producing it, because you make everything appear so seamless. 

Take this opportunity to share the important, time-consuming ins and outs of the project that might otherwise go unnoticed. Think location scouting as a photographer or sourcing the perfect set of images as a web designer. 

This is one reason why it could be great to have an itemized version of your service packages that you can send close to booking or to clients who don’t understand your prices. By breaking it down, they can see exactly what they’re paying for. 

Showcase your expertise 

Now comes the proof in the pudding. Substantiate your craft-mastery by including links to glowing client reviews, portfolio examples, photo galleries, etc., and show your inquiry what sets you apart.

Psychology shows that clients are always comparing prices to others when they’re evaluating costs. Sometimes, the comparison doesn’t even make sense. By showcasing your value, you can give them a better baseline of comparison. 

For instance, if you have a previous case study that demonstrates that you went above and beyond other similar service providers, prospective clients will understand that your pricing is associated with substantive value.

Explore alternative pricing options

If they still won’t move forward, perhaps their dealing with a budgetary restriction. They might understand all your hard work but not have the capability of paying for your full services. In this case, it’s up to you how to move forward. 

If the revenue is worth it, you could put together a custom package that works for their budget. You could also sell them a digital product that doesn’t require any work from you, but can still help offer them a solution. 

Don’t be afraid to say no

Lastly, don’t be afraid to walk away. You’re the expert and you know your worth. If it takes too much time to work with the client to get them on board, it might not be worth it. Ask yourself if your time would be better spent finding and nurturing new clients who are a better fit. 

When you decline a new client who’s trying to work with you for a lower price, retain your professionalism. Thank them for inquiring, but let them know you can’t offer specialized packages or pricing. You can let them know that you would look forward to working with them in the future if they decide they’d like to work with you then. 

Templatize and automate your communication

Once you’ve crafted your response, turn it into a time-saving template you can use again and again with a business management system like HoneyBook. Just upload the template to save it. The next time someone asks why you cost so much or if you can lower your prices, you can simply select the template and send it in the click of a button. 

HoneyBook also allows you to automate different types of communication, including responding to inquiries, sending payment reminders, and more. To keep you organized, you can track each stage of each inquiry so you know exactly when to follow up and convert them into clients.