Wedding Industry Biz

3 Workflows to Automate in Your Event Business

Automation this, automation that. We often hear automation touted as the be-all and end-all, but many event pros excitedly sign up for software like Zapier or IFTTT only to realize they don’t know what to automate. When you’ve been in business for so long, your usual routines and processes are just par for the course. Your manual workflows become muscle memory, so you might not even realize that there are easier options.

But with technology rapidly evolving, there are many solutions at your fingertips — you just need to know where to look. And while your first thought may be to head over to Google, your starting place is actually right inside your business.

Here are three key business workflows to automate and how they will free up your bandwidth for work that fills you up.

Sales Workflow

To be clear, you can’t put your whole sales process on autopilot. Prospective clients still expect to meet with a human, so there’s no getting around that. However, there are plenty of transactional touchpoints you don’t have to handle on your own! For instance, if a contract hasn’t been signed, there’s no need for you to open up your inbox and write a follow-up email. Instead, see if your contract software allows for automated follow-up emails and let it do the heavy lifting for you.

Outline your sales workflow and identify any steps that don’t require a human touch. Perhaps your email marketing platform can auto-drip a welcome campaign to every new inquiry. Maybe you can set up a payment schedule template in your invoicing software to send invoices whether you’re at your desk or on the go. Use the tools you have or find new software to support your needs!

Client Onboarding Workflow

New clients come with lots of questions and even more backend to-dos, but that doesn’t mean it’s all on you. You can likely leverage tools you already have—like your website, CRM, or email platform—to save valuable time and treat clients to a consistently impressive onboarding experience.

Think about the steps of your onboarding workflow. What is the first thing that happens after they sign your contract and pay the deposit? Do you send a welcome guide in an email? Is there a kickoff call involved? You can automate most of these steps! 

Don’t worry if none of your systems allow for trigger-based automated emails. You can still leverage good old-fashioned Gmail to save time! Find the emails you send the most and save them as templates in your inbox, so you never have to rewrite them over and over. You can also pre-schedule emails, allowing you to batch a whole set of emails at once. It’s not 100% automated, but it will save you time and energy!

Invoicing Workflow

Nobody likes manual invoicing, but even worse is having to chase down outstanding payments. So don’t do it! Look for invoicing software that supports payment schedules, so you can set it and forget it. Clients will receive invoices like clockwork, and if they’d like, they can even set up auto-payments so nobody has to think about it.

Better yet, find a system that allows for automated reminders. No more awkward email reminders every few days – let the software handle that for you! A streamlined invoicing workflow lets you step away from admin and helps your clients pay quickly and more reliably, so it’s one of the best things you can do for your event business.

Beyond these three workflows, there are likely plenty of other small tasks you can simplify to save more time in your day. And rest assured, once you set up a few automations, you’ll start noticing other tasks you don’t need to do so you can continue offloading all of that unnecessary work! 

 

Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. In addition to recognition by Special Events in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.

Wedding Industry Biz

10 Questions to Ask to Qualify Your Potential Client Couples

You’re ready to get more clients, but how do you know which ones are right for you? 

Start by qualifying leads in order to figure out which couples will be the best fit. 

Remember, it’s necessary to resist the urge to take on every client that comes your way. 

Because if you want to grow your business and earn what you deserve, then you need to make sure you’re working with your ideal clients. 

So, when you’re on a discovery call or or at a first meeting, be sure to ask these 10 questions.

Read More “10 Questions to Ask to Qualify Your Potential Client Couples”

Wedding Industry Biz

5 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills in 2022

A well-rounded leader does more than keep a business running. Ultimately, they have the power to influence and teach dozens of budding event professionals. Most entrepreneurs look back on their success and think about the mentors who helped them get to where they are today. And as a leader, you can become a significant figure for industry newbies.

Though leading others comes with its fair share of responsibilities, it also presents an incredible opportunity for you to cultivate meaningful relationships and bring in additional business. Your talents may take you far, but to grow as a professional, you need to focus on developing strong leadership skills.

If you’re looking to widen your reach as a leader and continue to stand out in the event industry, here’s what you can do to develop your skills in 2022.

Focus on flexibility

Rolling with the punches became a regular occurrence when the COVID-19 pandemic came around. As a result, live events worldwide were canceled, postponed, or rearranged, throwing a wrench in industry professionals’ plans. Luckily, the businesses of leaders who practiced flexibility continued to turn a profit.

To become a better leader, it’s essential to be open-minded. Of course, your way may not always be the right way, so listen to feedback and don’t be afraid to make changes that benefit you and your team.

Those who pivoted (like offering catering curbside pickup or virtual wedding packages) were able to provide an exceptional client experience during a tumultuous time. So if you’re serious about developing as a leader, be flexible and optimistically approach each curveball thrown your way.

Prioritize transparency

Strong leaders aren’t afraid of a little tough love – and they know how to accept constructive criticism. To sharpen your leadership skills in 2022, be transparent with yourself, your team, and your clients. There’s no need to sugarcoat things!

Being honest goes a long way in gaining respect from others within the event industry. Great leaders understand they’ll run into a few speed bumps, but by being open with others, they can find innovative solutions that work for all.

Practice empathy

The past few years have undoubtedly altered the landscape of the event industry. So if you want to become a better leader as times continue to change, you’ll need to focus on being empathetic towards others. 

The best industry pros know clients appreciate feeling seen and heard. This goes for employees as well – your team will be grateful as you tune in to their needs and support them as a leader!

With the industry catching up from the pandemic, think about how you can lend a hand to those who might need extra help. For example, offering advice or a free 1:1 call with a growing professional or simply letting your team members take a day off to focus on their mental health. Small moves like these will go far in polishing your leadership skills.

Learn to delegate

The most productive leaders aren’t afraid to loosen the reins, which means they know how to delegate. Moreso, they understand that delegation isn’t something that harms their business but allows it to grow instead. So let 2022 be the year you ask for help and lighten the load you carry.

Of course, onboarding a new team member can be a time-consuming process. But once they get into the swing of things, they will help ease the burden of your responsibilities. The result is that you can take on more clients or put attention toward other projects. If your business is growing beyond what you can handle, then you need to delegate in order to thrive in your leadership role!

Tap into your creativity

When asked to envision a leader, some see suit-clad professionals sitting at a desk or rushing to their next meeting. But those in the event industry understand that this isn’t always the case. Some of the best leaders continue managing client work and finding creative solutions to new problems.

This year, think about how you can tap into your creativity more often. It might mean spending less time at your desk and more time getting to know your audience. Maybe it’s following inspiration to create offers that meet their needs. Or perhaps it’s about picking up an old hobby outside of work to get the juices flowing. Whatever it may be, don’t be afraid to do things differently!

The event industry is ever-changing, but one thing that remains constant is the potential anyone has to become a strong leader. So no matter your number of clients or social media followers, start taking steps to become a better leader in 2022. There’s always room at the table here!

 

Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. Additionally, Special Events recently recognized Elizabeth in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series.

Wedding Industry Biz

5 Reasons Why You Should Take Advantage of a Virtual Tour

If you’re a wedding planner, then you’re likely managing a packed schedule. Which is why it makes sense to wonder, is getting a demo worth the time?

Although it can be tempting to think otherwise, the answer is yes.

So, why should you take advantage of getting a virtual tour with Timeline Genius? 

Here are 5 reasons why a virtual tour is worth it.

Read More “5 Reasons Why You Should Take Advantage of a Virtual Tour”

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Become Certified in Wedding Day Timeline Creation

Are you ready to become a certified expert at creating wedding day timelines?

In partnership with The Bridal Society, Timeline Genius offers a certification course designed to help you master the process of creating wedding day timelines. 

As a result, you’ll not only gain valuable expertise, but you’ll also learn best practices and elevate the professionalism of your brand. 

The best part is you can get started right now!

Read More “How to Become Certified in Wedding Day Timeline Creation”

Wedding Industry Biz

Top 5 Software Programs Every Wedding Planner Needs in 2022

Most wedding planners would agree that producing a successful event comes down to organization and creativity. 

The good news is that today’s planners have a range of software options to help with how they set up their systems and explore their artistic visions! 

And while we might think it would be nice to have just one app or program that does everything, the truth is that the most effective planners use a selection of tech options that are best suited to their businesses. 

So, to help you stack your tech deck, we’ve compiled the top 5 software programs that every planner needs in 2022.

Top 5 Software Programs for Event Planning 

Best Software for Creating Timelines

Timeline Genius is a smart software that thinks through the wedding day details with you – keeping you organized, confident, and calm. With numerous features and tools to communicate with vendors and clients, it will save you time while letting you customize and personalize event timelines.

Best Software for Digital Billing and File Management

Rock Paper Coin is an online billing platform that lets you manage contracts, invoices, payments, and documents all in one place. With its streamlined system, you don’t have to deal with the stress and guesswork of traditional paperwork.

Best Software for Planning + Designing Venue Layout

Merri is an all-in-one, 3D visualization platform that provides all the tools you need to envision, plan, and design events. Since it includes everything from inspiration to seating charts and vision boards, you can see how floral and décor details will come to life in selected venues.

Best Software for Customer Relationship Management 

REFINE for Wedding Planners offers education, community, and support for wedding professionals who want to grow their businesses. Specifically, The Refine Portal is a CRM designed for weddings planners that is made by wedding planners. In addition to not having blackouts, it allows you to both back up and restore your work. It also offers a variety of event tools and is even available offline. 

Best Software for Color Palette Creation

PANTONE Studio is a design app that lets you build and create palettes with 3D application. You can also customize any look with full design tools and use built-in features to share your vision.

Invest in Yourself + Your Business

All things considered, trying out new software for your business can at first feel a little scary. But, ultimately, it pays off in time saved and long-term growth.

It’s equally important to remember that these software options are more user-friendly than ever and provide responsive technical support when you need it. 

In fact, we’ve even gotten to talk with planners about investing in wed-tech options and automating existing business systems.

So, try one out. Or, better yet, create the software stack that best supports you and your business needs!

 

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Level Up Your Networking Strategy in 2022

As we start to find our groove again in 2022, it’s time to put networking back on the forefront of our small businesses. While we may have gotten comfortable pairing nice jewelry with our finest pajama pants for the next Zoom event, it’s safe to say that most event professionals are ready and raring to get back to in-person opportunities.

So, if you’ve missed the social setting and are ready to get back to mixing and mingling, use these techniques to make networking a top priority in 2022.

Set Clear Goals

If you don’t view networking as a way to achieve your business goals, it will always feel like a backup plan to “more important” tasks. It’s true — there will always be another client deliverable to send, another lead magnet to write, and another email to answer.

Yet, by setting goals for your networking efforts, you are effectively saying: “This is important to me and my business.” Such a mindset will help you shut down your computer on time, get ready, and head off to build new relationships.

Consider what you hope to get out of networking and how it fits into your big picture. Are you looking for potential hires to bring into your business? Do you have a collaborative idea sitting on ice until you find the perfect partner? Are you trying to increase your referral business? Networking can accomplish all of these goals, but your intention will determine the type of event you attend and how you approach it.

Build Your Strategy

You know the “why” — now, you need to map out the “how.” Write your goal down and start brainstorming the steps you can take to reach it.

For example, if you’re looking to find new team members, you may need to bring a few copies of the job description with you. You’d also need to set your sights on networking events that attract younger folks who are still in the early stages of their careers.

Your strategy should define the types of networking events you need to attend, the icebreakers you bring to introduce yourself, and the elevator pitches you use to tell your story. How you approach a seasoned planner with three businesses would likely look different than the newly-hired catering manager of your favorite venue.

Revisit How You Present Who You Are

If it’s been a while since you’ve dusted off that side of your closet, take a moment to pull out our networking duds and give them a run-through. Do they still fit? Has your style changed? Do you need to repair your go-to shoes?

Effective networking is rooted in your confidence and it’s hard to be your best if your attire makes you feel otherwise. The last thing you want is to find out your favorite dress’ hem has frayed, just hours before you’re supposed to attend an event.

Discard (or store) anything that doesn’t make you feel like a rockstar — because that’s the type of energy you need to bring! If desired, treat yourself to a few new statement pieces to freshen up your wardrobe and step into your next networking event feeling like a million bucks.

Ease Back Into It

Feeling rusty when it comes to talking about your business? You’re not alone. Recognize that most of the people you see will be in a similar boat, wondering how they were able to float around a room with such ease before virtual events took over.

If networking is giving you stage fright, do what you need to do to ease into it. You don’t need to go back at 100 miles per hour (unless that’s your rhythm!). Start with small group settings with your local chamber or association chapter. Memorize a few opening lines. Practice in the mirror before you leave to mitigate the nerves.

Don’t worry — it won’t take long before your networking muscles are firm and toned again! Give yourself grace as you step out of your comfort zone and do what’s best for your business. You’ll be running the national conference circuit before you know it!

 

Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development.

Wedding Industry Biz

4 Key Business Lessons from 2021 to Prepare for a Successful Year Ahead

It’s hard to believe that the year is coming to an end and industry professionals are busily crafting their goals for 2022. For many, this year has felt like a continuation of 2020. Between the pandemic and subsequent economic instability, most business owners have been in fight mode trying to roll with the punches.

Fortunately, 2021 did see the return of weddings and live events — and, in many markets, it has been a resurgence that is keeping industry professionals at full capacity (and then some). The pendulum has swung and experts are forecasting that this busy season will last through 2022 and even into 2023.

As you prepare for the year ahead, it’s vital to look back at the road you’ve traveled to identify key learning lessons and takeaways to support your business’s future.

Here are four highlights from 2021 to reflect on as you look to 2022 and beyond.

Digital systems are essential

Managing a heavy workload and, for some, a remote team requires an organized structure that is built to support a business’s growth. Many companies have adopted new software to track payments, send invoices, sign contracts, store client information, and perform other important tasks.

Most business responsibilities no longer need to be done manually. Investing in event tech to streamline those processes will ultimately save time and money in the long run. Plus, today’s clients expect brands to support a digital experience, so smart systems are beneficial for all parties.

There’s no “I” in team

Thanks to the event boom this year, most entrepreneurs are discovering the true value of having a great team. Those who have been solo have brought on associates, assistants, and contractors to lessen the burden, while existing leaders have prioritized the care and wellbeing of their employees.

Burnout has been a prevalent concern with the rapid growth of events, which does not discriminate between CEOs and their staff. Anyone is susceptible to feeling overworked and exhausted. Burnout counters productivity, so supporting your and your team’s mental wellbeing is in the best interest of your business.

Communication styles matter

Even though most of our communication is still done through impersonal screens, what we say (and how we say it) is critical to how we’re perceived in the market. Some conversations are best saved for a video chat, while others may suffice in a quick text message or email.

At the same time, the person on the other end may also dictate communication styles. While some folks prefer to hop on the phone for the smallest of questions, others may prefer conversing through emails so they can think over the matter at hand. On a similar note, what we don’t say is just as meaningful. Staying in touch with clients and colleagues helps keep the lines open and shows that you care.

Adaptability is key

Despite your best plans and intentions, sometimes things still go awry. Of course, we see this on a micro level whenever a wedding detail doesn’t go as planned. But, on a macro level, the pandemic has forced businesses everywhere to roll with the proverbial punches and adjust their processes at a moment’s notice.

Pandemic aside, be mindful that there are a number of uncontrollable factors that may turn your business on its head. From natural disasters to significant market changes, solid and sustainable businesses need leaders with their ears to the ground and their eyes looking ahead to make swift, agile decisions that support the greater good.

As we head into a new year full of possibilities, it might be tempting to dive in headfirst without turning back. However, don’t forget to recognize what has gotten you all this way: resiliency, innovation, dedication, and passion. Together, these qualities will help you navigate difficult and bountiful seasons alike.

 

Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. In addition to recognition by Special Events in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.

Wedding Industry Biz

The Value of Using Digital Storage Options to Capture Event Memories

Easily Commemorate Every Wedding

As a planner, one of the most important elements of helping couples is making sure that everything from their Wedding Day gets commemorated. After all, they are going to want to look back on the memories of their special day and even share it with their family and friends.

This generally means two things. First, you help them with hiring an amazing photographer to capture all of the day’s beautiful photos. Secondly, you help them with hiring a phenomenal videographer so all of the day’s moments are always remembered.

But there’s another emotional component of the wedding that oftentimes gets forgotten when it comes to commemorating them forever… and that’s the cards that are received from all of the guests. Many of these cards include personal and sentimental messages from family and friends, but what does the couple do with these cards? Do they get stored in a shoebox? A drawer? A folder? In an era of never-ending new technology, isn’t there a way to save these digitally?

Well, now there is, and it’s E-Bration! Based on our own wedding experience, we created this perfect digital solution!

E-Bration is an online platform that saves the memories of every card and message collected from important life event celebrations.

And when it comes to important celebrations, weddings are right at the top of the list!

Why it Helps to Offer Your Clients Digital Solutions

So, how can E-Bration help you and your clients? There are two ways that you can offer couples this digital card storage solution.

Read More “The Value of Using Digital Storage Options to Capture Event Memories”