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The Small Business Guide to Project Closure

Shaking hands with client after project closure
Shaking hands with client after project closure

There’s a bit more to the end of a project beyond the final deliverable. Here’s how to ensure you’re closing projects successfully and creating long-term client relationships. 

You nurtured the lead, booked the client, worked hard for weeks or months, and you’ve made it to the end! Once a project is complete, you might have a few things in mind, like resting for a bit or booking your next clients. 

But proper project closure is just as important as how you begin and work on a project. By following the right steps, you can gather invaluable feedback for your businesses, create long-term relationships with your clients, and pave the way for multiple referrals. 

HoneyBook’s tools make it super easy to build and repeat this process using a single smart file that can consolidate all these actions into one concise document for you to send and your clients to complete.

Follow these steps below to close your projects the right way and use the right tools to get it done. 

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How to internally close a project

Once your project is coming to end, take a look at your initial documents. This might include your original proposal, the scope of work, and onboarding questionnaires from your client. 

In comparison with your final deliverable, was the project a success? Take note of what worked and what didn’t work, including blockers you encountered and lessons for future projects. 

As you’re reviewing the project outcomes, record your key takeaways. You can use these internally to improve your processes while also sharing key learnings with your client. 

After you’ve reviewed the project internally and sent your final documents (more on them later), you can go through your project management software and archive documents and tasks. If you use HoneyBook, you can simply archive the project, which automatically archives all the documents as well. 

Start the closing process with your client

You should begin the project closing phase promptly as soon as you’re ready. If you take too much time, your client can wonder about the status and be less likely to provide feedback. 

Send the project deliverables if you haven’t done so already. Depending on your services, you might complete the final deliverable and close the project as separate steps, or you can do it all at once. 

Sending your final deliverable can be an excellent surprise and delight moment and leave a lasting impression. If you’re a photographer, you might want to send a custom package with a few of your favorite prints along with a USB drive with the full photo gallery. If you’re a graphic designer, you might want to print a client’s new logo on tissue paper or display it another way. 

Finding unique opportunities to share your work in an unexpected way will set your business apart from others who might just send a quick email with a link. 

Once you’ve sent the deliverable, you should thank your client for their time, send your key takeaways, and ask for reviews, referrals, renewal, and/or feedback. 

How to thank a client for their business

As you’re closing your projects, remember that the client relationship doesn’t have to end there. You can retain them for future projects, or they could become advocates for your business. 

To show them you’re interested in a long-term client relationship, put together a personalized thank you message. We recommend sending one via email, but you can also send a short one in the mail a few weeks later as a surprise and delight moment. 

Hand-written thank you notes can offer a more personalized touch that builds customer loyalty. Plus, you can easily include one if you’re sending your deliverable in the mail already. 

In your note, express your gratitude. Thank them for taking the time to find your business, choosing you to work with, and for their part in the project. You should also include some of your project takeaways so you can highlight your successes.

Use this sample client thank you email and make it your own: 

Copy/Paste Template:

Client Thank You Email

Hi [client name],

I’m excited to send over your final deliverables: [list each deliverable or state where to find them].

Through this project, we were able to [list key takeaways or outcomes]. 

Thank you so much for choosing [business name] for your needs. It’s been a pleasure working with you. We especially enjoyed [specific part of the project].

If you have the time, would you be willing to post a review on our Facebook page? [include link] If you don’t have an account, you could also send a couple of sentences to me as well. With your permission, I’d love to use your testimonial for our website and marketing materials. 

I’ve also included a brief post-project questionnaire on the next page to capture more specific details about your experience. Any information you provide can help us continue offering excellent services to our clients!

Lastly, I’d like to point you to our [services page or digital product]. If you have additional needs, let me know. We’d be happy to work again with you in the future. 

Best, 

[Your name]

Ask for a review or referral

Once you’ve thanked your client, it’s time to ask for something in return for your hard work. First, you should ask if they would be willing to write a review for either Facebook, Google, Yelp, or another business page. Within your message, be sure to link to the review site. 

You can also ask if they’ll send the review directly to you so you can also use it as a testimonial on your website or for your marketing materials. 

So you’re not asking too much of your clients, consider if it would be more valuable to ask your client to refer new clients instead of a review. To incentivize this, you may want to explore a referral program or other benefit, such as a discount on their next service. 

These two questions can be as simple as a few sentences and provide lasting benefits for your business!

Collect their feedback internally

If your client provides a testimonial or review, you’ll have some feedback to work with. But, you should also gather more comprehensive information from each client. 

To do so, send a post-project questionnaire to ask them things like: 

  • How was the turnaround time/overall timeline?
  • How was the communication throughout the project?
  • How was the quality of deliverables?
  • How do the project deliverables align with your initial goal?
  • Do you wish anything was done differently?
  • What’s one thing that you thought contributed to a great experience?

Gathering this feedback gives you plenty of information to be able to improve your business and ensure you’re continually offering an excellent client experience. You might think your clients won’t want to take the time, but 67% of clients will consider leaving a review after a positive experience.

Explore renewal options

If applicable, the last step you should take with your clients is to see if they’re open to working on new projects. 

For example, say you completed a successful project designing marketing collateral. As a next step, would they be interested in a website rebranding to match your designs? Using the information you’ve collected about them, you can offer something specific to their needs. 

If they aren’t applicable to more services, consider if they’d benefit from a digital product. Offers like templates, worksheets, or tutorials might provide long-term benefits or serve as an add-on to what you’ve already delivered for them. 

If you don’t ask, you can miss out on returning clients who are likely to spend 67% more than new clients. 

Follow a project closure checklist

It’s important to make sure you’re offering the same project closure experience to all your clients. Otherwise, you might not always remember to ask for a review or gather feedback. By following a project closure checklist, you can ensure everyone is treated with the same experience:

  • Review final deliverables against the original scope of work, timeline, and goals
  • Send final deliverables
  • Record key takeaways you can use within your business and share with your client
  • Send a thank you note to your client
  • Ask for a review or testimonial
  • Ask your client to join your referral program
  • Send a project closure questionnaire
  • Explore renewal options, including digital products
  • Archive project internally

Use a project completion template

Keep your project closure simple by using a template that you can personalize and reuse. With HoneyBook, you can use a smart file that combines multiple steps. 

Create a project completion template that includes your final deliverable (or a link to it), a thank you message, a project closure questionnaire, and your requests for reviews and referrals. That’s right–everything can fit in one file to make it easier for you and your clients! 

To get started, we already have pre-made project closure templates that you can add to your account, edit with your client information, and send in minutes. 

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