[Today’s post is a kickass guest post from Val of Aspire & Grow. Enjoy!]
One of the biggest challenges of the bridal biz is that oh-so-glorious period of time from, say, mid-November thru most-of-March where things tends to quiet down.
“I can finally take pictures of my own family!”
“Now I can re-paint that guest room!”
“Oh my goodness, I just wanna sleep until Spring.”
You know that time. The majority of weddings are done and you may have a holiday party or two here and there or a winter family portrait session, but the majority of the business just isn’t booking during those months. And that is okay by you, right?! You’ve got enough to do the rest of the year. Time for some DOWN TIME!
Think again, hot shot. You run a business. And those bookings may come sliding on in for next year but how do you keep track of it all? If your out-of-office is on, who’s gonna take those inquiries, send the contracts, and gather your deposits while you bake cookies for the month of December?
That’s right, just like life in the wedding business isn’t exactly what the movies have depicted (thanks again, J Lo), being a business owner isn’t all fun and free booze.
But here’s the good part: if you take the time to assess your business now while things are a little more on the quiet side, you won’t be chasing down final payments and running from booking to booking come June. So, here’s your 5 point Down to Business Tune Up to get your systems in place and keep your business humming:
This season was a doozy. Did you take notes? Take a look at that contract you wrote 3 years ago when you started your biz. Is it still relevant? What do you want to add? Lessons learned from clients this year you don’t wanna see happen again? Put it on in there. Meet with a lawyer who understands your business model (it’s a little different than most) and make sure you’re good to go.
Who’s paying you and how? It’s amazing to me how many businesses (and specifically wedding related businesses) don’t use an online payment system. Mailing checks or dropping off cash? No bride (or bride’s family or really anyone) has time for that. Do your clients a huge favor and secure yourself an online payment account. One of the most popular is Paypal. You can even avoid Paypal’s fees by only accepting digital checks. Your clients get the invoices and pay them the same day and money is in your account within 3-5 business days. Boom. If you accept credit cards but don’t offer an online payment system, get on it.
Scheduling tools are the internet’s gift to busy people who don’t want to email 5 times to get schedules to line up. Your potential client (or already booked client – yay!) gets your schedule link, they pick a time that works for them based on the times you’ve already set aside, and the appointment is automagically added to your calendar. Done! Youcanbook.me is one of my favorites. It has free and paid versions and you can prettify (yes, it’s a word) it to match all of your glorious website and logo details you love.
Interviewing and finding those amazing people to work along your side is crucial to making your life so much easier next season. You may have an assistant (or team of assistants) but who does the website updates and the blog posts and the client follow up and the customer service? If your answer is that you do, consider how many hours you would save each week by hiring a virtual assistant to help offload those details. Yes, you’ll still be involved, you crazy creative. You just get to spend time doing more of what you love until you are absolutely needed in the convo. So I’ll ask you a question you probably ask your potential clients: what price tag would you put on keeping your sanity on the big day? Um hum…. it’s pretty priceless.
Yes, this is the kinda boring one. AND it’s the most helpful one! Every time I book a new client in my business, I pull up my handy little checklist I keep in Asana called ‘Client Intake Process’ and it walks me thru each step from the “Yes!” to the first day together. I pretty much have it down pat without the list but now anyone on my team can complete the checklist if I have to hand it off. In order to create the list, I had to write down each step I knew in my head and then check it against the actual process for my next new client booking. Pain in the ass, yes? So worth it, double yes. Create a checklist like this for every straightforward process and procedure. Your virtual assistant can use them to keep your business running smoothly all year long.
By taking the time to run each piece of your business thru this list, you’ll save yourself hours of pain and monotony when you feel like you can’t see straight this coming wedding season. And you’ll have more time to focus on the things that really make your business your business. Like incredible thank you notes and heartwarming engagement sessions. Your business needs love just as much as your clients. Show it some love this winter.
About The Author
Val Geisler has been creating and implementing systems since the third grade. As a business coordinator and community connector, Val sees all of the details and makes sure every i is dotted and t is crossed. Her extensive background in theatre and event planning have brought her to this place: one of creating more space, more clarity, and more fun in each moment. You can read more about Val over at www.aspireandgrow.com and learn about the 10 free tools that keep her sane and organized here.