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Getting Started with New Client Intake Forms

Use this guide to learn why you need a client intake form for your business, where to find the best client intake form template, and how to make your own.

Learn about why you need a client intake form, where to find client intake templates, and how to make your own.

Not every person is the perfect match for the specialized services you offer. Your unique skills and experience may not meet everyone’s needs. So, even though it might be tempting to say yes to every request that comes your way, finding the right clients is crucial for fostering successful business relationships.

Carefully evaluating clients to ensure they are a good fit can add significant time to your onboarding process. But there’s a smart way to make this process quicker and easier—a well-designed client intake form. This simple yet powerful tool helps you efficiently screen potential clients while making a great first impression.

What is a client intake form?

A client intake form is a questionnaire designed to collect screening information about prospective customers. It’s usually the first step in the client onboarding process. The questions typically cover necessary details such as the client’s contact information and why they need your services. Each answer will help you decide if you’d like to work with that client and whether your services would benefit them.

Client intake forms have quickly become a popular way for specialized service providers to vet new clients. These forms are easy to create using a form builder and they deliver to the prospective client through email. If you prefer to work with physical paperwork, you can create a custom form in a word-processing program and print it out.

Either way, starting your client relationships with an intake form can help you save time while providing a positive onboarding experience. It also means that you won’t have to waste time nurturing clients who aren’t a good fit. If you do want to accept the client, the insights can help you focus on what matters during an initial kickoff call and show you’re ready to deliver quality service.

Where to find client intake form templates

With a simple search online, you can find the perfect client intake form template for your company. Some websites offer free templates, while others put them up for sale. For the best results, search for a client intake form template specifically designed for your industry.

Sometimes, you can even get a free template from trade associations by visiting their websites. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking for a patient intake form template that needs to be HIPAA compliant.

Don’t just settle on the first client or patient intake form template you see. Find several for your industry and compare the fields on each one. You may find missing questions that could be pretty helpful when screening your clients.

Popular intake form examples

A client intake form template works best when it’s tailored to your industry. For example, financial advisors don’t ask the same questions as healthcare providers. If they did, they still wouldn’t know their potential clients’ needs and how they might be able to help.

So, with that in mind, let’s explore the following client intake form template examples to see how different industries create theirs.

Legal client intake form

The American Bar Association provides many resources for law firms, including legal client intake forms. Their family law intake form collects basic information about the client, their spouse, and any children in the household. Beyond that, it usually asks about custody arrangements and financial info, like client-specific tax details. The intake form template may also briefly explain some of the terms that clients need to know about when seeking legal services.

Patient intake form

Patient intake forms focus more on collecting health history information and inquiring about the patient’s current healthcare needs. The American Massage Therapy Association provides healthcare providers with a sample form that collects patient details, such as contact information, medical conditions, and medications. For veterinary services, Blue Pearl Pet Hospital’s intake form goes a similar route by gathering info on the pet’s disposition, reason for their visit, and medical history.

Mortgage broker intake form

Mortgage brokers’ intake forms usually ask questions about the client’s financial situation. Opportunities Credit Union uses a form that helps their brokers assess the client’s ability to secure a mortgage. It asks for a brief description of their homeownership status, employment, income and assets, and debts to expedite the application process.

Small business owner intake form

Small business owner intake forms must also align with their customers’ service needs. Here, Summit Digital Marketing’s intake form asks the potential client about their services, target customers, average order value, sales cycle, advertising approach, and current goals. As another example, the intake form for SHJ Wealth Advisors explores the client’s finances, retirement goals, and how they want to take care of their family.

Example of printable vs. online intake forms

You’ll find online and printable versions when looking for client intake form template examples. Online intake forms collect the data through the website. Printable client forms are usually delivered as a word-processing document or PDF. This allows clients to fill out the form using their computer or by printing it out and completing each field by hand.

How to create your own intake forms

Creating your own intake forms ensures you get the relevant information needed to effectively screen your clients and provide them with an excellent customer experience. You can use a form builder, work off a template, or just create one from scratch in your preferred word processor.

No matter how you choose to go about it, follow these steps to create a custom form you’ll be proud to deliver to your clients.

Step 1: Choose between printable and online forms

How you regularly work with your clients will help determine whether you use a printable or online intake form. If you only interact in the digital space, an online form may work best because it allows you to assess the client’s information instantly rather than waiting for physical paperwork. Printable forms can come in handy if you want to be able to deliver your paperwork online and print it out for any potential clients that come to your office.

Step 2: Request basic client information

Collecting client data starts with their basic details. At the top of the client intake form, gather their essential information like:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Property address
  • Preferred contact method
  • Role at their company
  • Insurance details

The content in this section of your intake form will give you a high-level overview of the client. You can use it to get to know them better and start their client record if you go ahead with the working relationship.

Step 3: Collect information about the brand

If you’re a B2B service provider, like a marketing agency or accountant, take the time to learn about your potential client’s brand after collecting their personal and contact information. Start by requesting their company name, website, and any active social media channels. Also, ask about their main product or service categories and best-selling items through the years.

Other things you might want to ask about include:

  • Brand mission and values
  • Target audience data
  • Average order amount
  • Current advertising strategy
  • Customer reviews and ratings

The questions will depend on your industry, of course. Create each one with the aim of gathering the information needed to determine if you’d like to work with the client.

Step 4: Ask about the potential client’s goals and challenges

Questions about the potential customer’s business goals and challenges lie at the center of a well-crafted client intake form. In this section, you’ll want to ask leading questions that help you understand what clients need from your company. Make sure to give them lots of room to answer by using large entry fields.

These client questions should include:

  • What specific goals do you hope to achieve with our help?
  • Where do you see your company in the next 3-5 years?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing?
  • Do you anticipate any new obstacles emerging in the next few years?
  • Can you give an example of what success would look like to you?

With their answers, you can reflect on whether your services could help them overcome their barriers to success. You may need to explore their primary challenges in more detail during the initial meeting, but their initial response will pave the way for a solution-oriented collaboration.

Step 5: Assess your potential client’s competitors

You need to know what your potential customers are up against before you can decide if you’re able to help them.

To figure that out, put a few questions on the intake form that ask who their main competitors are and what they’re doing differently from your potential client. Also, ask what their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are and which of their products or services stand out the most.

If your potential client is unsure, you could do a very brief competitor analysis to find the top 3 competitors in their industry. Through that process, you’ll get to see where the company stands in its industry and what it needs to do to beat the competition.

Step 6: Gain a clearer understanding of their budget

Asking about your client’s budget will verify if they have the money available to cover the cost of your services. If not, it won’t matter how good of a match you are. They’re simply not going to work out as your client.

In some cases, you may be able to suggest more-affordable solutions for the time being. Then, if their budget opens up, they can gradually increase their service level as they see fit.

Understanding the client intake process

Your form is only as good as your client intake process. Ensure you’re ready to move clients on to the next steps by creating a dedicated process to follow each time.

Benefits of an excellent onboarding process

A smooth onboarding process ensures that all parties are on the same page and ready to get to work. It helps build trust with your clients and shows them you have their best interests at heart. The foundation it creates also opens the communication lines, so it’ll be easier to collaborate with your clients throughout the business relationship. It’s a big win for everyone.

Intake process steps for prospective clients

Client intake processes vary depending on the industry and service type. For example, small businesses won’t follow the exact same steps as large law firms.

But in general, a good intake process might look like this:

1. Initial contact: The process begins upon receiving the initial service request by phone, email, or a sign-up form on your website. 2. Client intake form: Deliver your client intake form in person, through the mail, or by email. 3. Customer screening: Go over the client’s answers to the intake form questions and determine if they’re a good fit. 4. Intake form response: Contact your potential client to let them know if you’ll be able to meet their service needs. 5. First meeting: Arrange a kickoff call or in-person meeting with the client to discuss your services or go over the next steps.

Use this framework to establish your client intake process if you don’t have one already. Then, use your experiences and customer feedback to further customize the approach to meet your business needs.

Take a personalized approach with a new client intake form

Once you see how well your client intake form works, it’ll be your go-to tool whenever prospective customers come your way. Its ability to help you make better business decisions and provide the highest quality of service will likely prove invaluable. You’ll finally be able to welcome new clients onboard with confidence that you’ve made the right choice.

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