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Using Canned Emails to Set Client Expectations and Protect Yourself from Liability

Learn how to use canned emails and get examples you can edit and automate. Reinforce your contract policies, boundaries, and expectations to protect your business and establish strong client relationships.

Using canned emails can protect your business and enhance client relationships
image by Joelle Elizabeth

Using a thorough formal contract is a best practice for protecting your Independent business. But, we all know even when your online contract has you covered, you can run into problems when clients don’t read their contracts. For an added layer of protection and communication, use canned emails.

While a signed agreement is all you need to bind clients to contract terms (it doesn’t matter if they didn’t read the terms before they signed), you can prevent a lot of customer service issues by strategically including reminders of key contract terms throughout your workflow and automation.

Whether you use a client management software for small businesses like HoneyBook for client email sequences (so easy) or you work a bit more manually and rely on tools like the canned responses Gmail setting, a great client workflow will include timely reminders of key policies.

Why use canned emails?

Creating canned responses ensures you’ll stay on the same page as your clients without putting much thought into it. Instead of worrying if they remember every detail of your contract and boundaries, you can schedule automated emails that remind them throughout the project. 

If you have multiple team members, canned emails are also a great way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Whether you’ve handed off a project or you want to make sure your business can run without you, canned emails will keep everything consistent.

How to use canned emails in your process (and examples of what to say!)

To use canned emails, all you need is a series of email templates that communicate important information and touchpoints throughout your project. If you use a system with automation, you can set up your emails to auto-populate and send at specific moments, such as before meetings, after sending assets, and before making changes to the project scope. 

View some common email responses below that you can copy, edit to reflect your specifics, and paste into your account or save to schedule in your email client of choice. We’ve bolded the specific copy that should be edited so you can implement the templates easily.

Post-booking emails

Right after you book a client, you’ll want to reiterate some of your main policies, such as meeting procedures, project requirements, and payment policies. Thank them for moving forward, and then give them a clear idea of what they can expect as well as what you expect from them. 

Summary of Expectations

“Thank you for paying your initial payment! I am thrilled to have you as a coaching client. We’ll be meeting once a month via Zoom for the next three months [when and how will you be meeting or communicating?]. Each of our appointments will last about an hour [how long will your meetings last?]. To make the most out of each of your calls, don’t forget to send me your homework 72 hours before our first meeting [lay out your expectations for clients in each meeting].”

Important Client Policies

“As a quick reminder, our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m [drop in your availability here]. We’ll always respond within an hour or at the earliest start of our business hours. The best places to communicate will be by email or text– whichever you prefer! [state with methods of communication you’ll use]As we move through the project, if you have any changes, be sure to communicate those as far in advance as possible. [drop in a deadline for scope changes if you have one]

Payment Policies

“Thank you for making your initial payment! Your current balance is $300 and due on June 1, payable by credit card at your convenience. Your current payment schedule is the 1st of the month every month until project completion. 

Late payments are subject to additional fees: [drop in late payment policy].

Thanks again, and looking forward to working with you!”

Appointment reminder emails

Late Arrival Policies

“Looking forward to your appointment! We appreciate your on-time arrival. Due to limited scheduling availability, arriving late reduces your session time. Arriving more than 15 minutes late will constitute a no-show and your session fee will be forfeited. [drop in your late arrival or no-show policy]

Post-appointment emails

Deadline/Delivery Timeline Reminders

“I enjoyed our meeting today! Please remember to fill out the client questionnaire by Friday [drop in your client’s homework and deadlines] so we can stay on track for our delivery deadline of [deadline].

Product/project delivery emails

Terms of Use for Digital Assets

Your terms of use for digital assets or products will vary depending on what you’re providing. See below for two examples of canned emails about digital photos and digital courses. 

“A quick reminder about image use — the images are yours to use personally, including on social networking profiles. If you plan to use the images commercially–for example, for ads including social media ads, on a business website, or otherwise for publication–please contact me for a quote for commercial use rights. 

“We’re so excited you purchased this course! We’ve put a lot of time and energy into creating useful materials for our students. Please remember that all materials are protected by copyright law and sharing access information or course documents with others hurts our small business and is a copyright violation subject to serious penalties.”

Revision Policies

“Looking forward to hearing what you think — your contract includes up to three rounds of revisions. When you’re ready, please send your first round of revisions over in a single email.”

Last tips for canned emails

When you write your emails and response templates, you should use the same tone you use in regular client communications — no need to copy and paste language directly out of your contract. 

If you get too formal, it can negatively affect the client relationship– you might feel too much like an enforcer, while your clients might not grasp what you’re saying. While they may be more likely to skim technical contract jargon, your canned emails should reinforce your policies in a way that’s friendly and easy to understand.

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