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.
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!
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.