Talk It Out Tuesday: Coffee Chat
Client Workflows 101
Grab your dark roast and your headphones. We will be sipping coffee and chatting all about...how workflows are game changers in your business!
What is a workflow? Why do I need one? 🔚🔚🔚
Episode 1 Coffee Chat Replay
Episode 1 Podcast
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Lauren Dragon-Cook: Hey everybody! So I’m here LIVE and I am going to do a little bit of a deep dive into workflows today, because I know there are many new members in here that wanted to try to figure out their workflows in 2018. That is amazing because 2018 is going to be a kickass year for everybody. If 2017 was an awkward year for you, please raise your hand! I feel like it was just awkward across the board. Am I right? Anyone else or I am the only one who thought 2017 was off?
We are going to talk about workflows a little bit today. If you are a photographer give me a shout out! If you are a planner, let me know so I know what I’m working with. So I can help you break your workflows down so you can start working smarter and not harder! Photographer? Planner? Florist? Hair and Makeup?
I want to dive right into this for you guys. If you are using Dubsado welcome to the family! Because Dubsado kicks ass and takes some serious names. It is my hands down my favorite tool that I used for my wedding planning business and for my business now working for clients. It is very multi-faceted. Love Becca and Jake! They are the best and the tutorials that they offer are amazing!
But sometimes it helps to have just a bit more insight coming from somebody who is in the industry. This is one thing that I have found in talking with virtual assistants and VA’s that are part of the group and they offer their services to help set you up and that is wonderful, that is awesome. But sometimes it is not always super helpful because they don’t know the tips and the tricks of the industry. Right? They haven’t walked a day in our shoes. And that is no knock against them. It is just helpful to hear it from somebody who has lived and breathed it.
Without further ado… workflows! The first step in creating a very streamlined workflow for yourself… regardless of whether or not you use Dubsado… (if you use Dubsado then you are in luck because everything I am about to breakdown is going to help you). If you don’t have a system like that it is totally okay. You are just going to have to find a way to make it work for your business.
First and foremost… you want to grab a piece of paper and a pen, because what you are going to do is sit down, maybe you’re sipping on a glass of wine or a cup of coffee depending on the time…
- What happens when a client inquires with you?
- What are the sequences of events that happen after that?
Now some people get overwhelmed by the word “workflow” and that is totally okay. But a workflow literally just means the steps that come after someone inquires with you about your services and then all the way through to the point of completion. That is it.
What you need to do is put yourself in your client’s shoes. Maybe you don’t really have a streamline process for your clients. Maybe if someone inquires with you it looks different every time. That is okay! That is why you’re here… you are going to fix that.
Say I’m in wedding photography… they inquire about my services… what is the first thing that is going to happen? Alright well for me (personally) when I was a planner, I had an online automated email that would go out. The email very vaguely said:
“Thank you so much for contacting us. We will be sure to give you a more personalized response in a few hours, but in the mean time (THIS PART IS KEY) if you didn’t have a chance to check out our packages and pricings page you can find that information here”.
And what you are doing by putting that URL there, by putting that link to your services and your pricing is you are going to be weeding out your less than ideal clients. Let me show you how that is going to happen in the next few steps...
So once you have said to them “thank you for getting in touch”, they are going to click on that. This is where you are going to have your nice beautiful PDF of all of your services or you are going to send them back to your website. Then the next business day, within 24 hours, (this gives you some time)… set some boundaries! When you respond back to them you are going to say:
“Thank you so much for reaching out, I am so excited because we have your wedding date available. We love to get to know our couples a little bit more so we can create an experience that is customized for you. When do you have time in the next couple of days to have a quick chat?”
You want to make this seem very painless. Not painful! You want to make it seem very easy! Because what happens when you are starting to bombard them with information? They are going to get overwhelmed! They are going to be like “If I hire this person, this is what it is going to be like to work with them!” NO! Don’t do that to yourself. You want to keep this short and sweet. In your response back, all you are doing is telling them:
“Thank you so much for inquiring with us. We have your date available… YAY! We would love to set up a time to chat with you. How did you hear about us?”
Find out where they heard about you! You can say something about “we love to shower our fans with gifts, so please let me know who I need to send my gift to if you were a referral”. Something like that.
In that follow up email you are sending to them, you can also include a link to your calendar. That can be whatever service you have. If you don’t use a calendar, that is totally okay! Just shoot out a couple of dates that you have in the next couple of days where they can sit and chat with you.
You want to know if they are a good fit. You don’t want to hop on the phone with somebody if you do not think they are a good fit right off the bat. This is how you have weeded out your less than ideal clients. Because what you have just done is… if somebody clicks on your pricing information and your pricing is $20,000 and their budget is $2… that is a problem. What you have done if they don’t respond back to your real email, don’t get offended! That just means they were your less than ideal client and you really saved yourself a phone call. You saved yourself from investing time in them, knowing they are not going to be your ideal client.
This is one way to weed out people! Once you have set this up, you will have a follow up call with them or not. That is totally up to you! From there is where the workflow really starts.
I’ve created a workflow for when someone inquires with me. So if they inquire it is going to automatically send them my information packet (that is what I was talking about with your pricing). This is the meat and potatoes of your workflow. The lead workflow is just sending them your pricing information. The next step is what really matters…
At this point you have had the conversation with them… you feel they are a good fit for you and your business… and they want to hire you. YAY! Congratulations! Awesome! What happens next? This where your real deal workflow begins.
Upon somebody telling me “Yay I want to hire you”, you are going to send them an email that has a contract and an invoice already attached. Instead of sending them two different emails, you want to make this again as painless as possible. Send them one email. Not two. Not one that has the contract and one that has an invoice… no. Keep it all in one email. You are going to do that by sending them the portal link that has the contract and the invoice attached. So once you hit on your client to add the workflow, it is going to trigger everything else. But until then nothing is going to be triggered.
You want to make sure you send them an email after they sign the contract because:
A) it is acknowledging that you’ve received it, you’re good to go…
B) also it is showing them you actually care.
Regardless of whether or not it is automated. Once they sign the contract, I always create a “to-do” for myself. I add their contact information into my phone, the location, where it is going to be happening… but I’m also adding their wedding date in my calendar. Because the last thing I want is to be double booked. That is a nightmare waiting to happen. Make sure if you do use Dubsado, make sure you put the client name within the to-do. It will remind you. Once that has happened it is just a bunch of “to-dos”, a lot of it is stuff you have to do anyways. A lot of it is personalized. You want to make sure you are still giving them the client experience that you want every body to have. That is able to happen when you set reminders for yourself.
As a planner, I don’t know if they are going to do an engagement shoot. So what I would do within 4 weeks of after applying the workflow, You can create a reminder to check in with them and ask them:
“Hey are you doing engagement photos? If so I would love to feature you on our blog… if you would like to be featured on our blog, please feels free to answer a few quick questions and we will send you a link when it is set up.”
I have simplified blogging, which is the bane of all of our existences, down to its most basic components. And if you haven’t year I would highly recommend you hopping on over to the blog and looking at the post that says “My Biggest Blogging Secret”. Blogging should not be as hard as we make it to be. The reason why we need to blog is for SEO.
SEO makes sure you get found. Right? I won’t go into SEO or blogging now, but what you’re doing is setting a reminder for yourself to send them the blogging questionnaire that you’ve already created for yourself. Once they’ve filled out the questionnaire, guess what you have to do? Copy and paste their answers, throw in some photos, and you probably just saved yourself an hour and a half of work. Because they have already created the blog post content for you. BOOM! WOW! You literally can have your clients do the work for you. So within your workflow just make sure you’ve created a reminder to then ask them if they want to be featured.
Once you’ve gotten answer, send them an email with the questionnaire form. I’ve marked that after 4 weeks I get a reminder to send the questionnaire, because if you get caught up in the season you don’t check everyone’s workflow on the regular basis… this gives you time. This reminder is going to get sent out to you and the form will get sent out 6 weeks after the workflow has started. You can always pause your workflow! I created mine and set 6 weeks because it is a buffer of time.
There is then a BIG gap in time! In between you probably aren’t going to be talking with them a whole heck of a lot if you are a photographer, but if you are a planner you are probably going to be chatting with them on the regular anyway. You can feel free to add whatever you want in between the gap. The one thing I do want to point out if you make sure at the 6th month mark you have figured out linens and a band and all of those things… maybe just create a reminder for yourself. Create a to-do. Double check and make sure that client name has completed X, Y, Z. This is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. Don’t overthink it! Workflow is a product of me sitting down and writing out what your client experience looks like.
Four weeks before the event, I send out the wedding questionnaire. The wedding questionnaire literally asks them what the important details that you need to know as a photographer, planner, florist, hair and makeup… what time do you need to be there? XYZ. This gets sent out automatically. That way you don’t have to remember… it just gets done for you. From there you can have an email that goes out “lets sit down and schedule our final walkthrough”. I like to keep my workflow relatively simple. That way I can add my own touches. Keep it simple.
I also make it a point to send out a thank you email to the couple one day after the event. I know some people would look at that and say:
“Are you kidding me? They are getting on a plane and they are going on their honeymoon… they don’t want to be bothered”.
There is a reason why it is the day after. The day after and up to 72 hours after the wedding is called the golden hour of opportunity. Within that period, everybody is still excited and amped and thrilled with the wedding! They are still on that wedding high! Even though we as vendors may think that we are bothering them… uh-huh. They are just so happy and thrilled and in love and married! Send them a thank you email!
“Thank you so much for including me in your special day. It was absolutely beautiful!”. It doesn’t have to sound like a robot created this. It can still be genuine. “If you would like to be featured, we would love to feature you on our blog. Please feel free to answer these questions on this email”.
It would be a form that you send them included in the email. Keep it short. Keep it sweet. Bare bones and basics. Questions like:
- What was your favorite memory?
- What were you most anxious about before the wedding?
- Did your biggest fears come true?
- What is one piece of advice you would offer to couples planning their wedding?
- What was your favorite part of working with us?
Even though they may be on the plane or going to their honeymoon, what you are doing is setting it up because they are still excited and they know they will see the photos soon. So if you are a wedding photographer, this is key! Please highlight this! If you are a wedding photographer… this is how you should be sending your sneak peaks to your couples. The reason is solely because of SEO. Now you’re probably like “I’m not going to change everything in my life Lauren. I already do a Facebook sneak peak”. That is totally okay. Take what you want from this post, but I am telling you… you are going to go through and find your 10, 20 top photos. Because you are excited! What you are doing is you are going to be throwing those favorites into a blog post. You are going to be getting the answers from your blog post, from a couple that is excited to see those photos. And then guess what happens? When you post that, who are they going to share it with? Everybody from the wedding! You just went from having your normal traffic to your website, to literally blowing up! Because all of these friends and family want to see those sneak peak photos. When you post sneak peaks on Facebook or Instagram or social media… or if you are just waiting until you are done editing... bad news bears. Don’t do that to yourself!
The 72 hours following your wedding is key!
That is free marketing for yourself that if you aren’t taking advantage of… I hope you’re not spending money on marketing elsewhere. Because if you are not taking advantage of the bare bone basic things, then you are not helping yourself by paying for it somewhere else. That is my trick to helping to boost your SEO.
Then you are going to send them the blogging link, say “please feel free to share with your family and friends!”. If you yourself are terrible with writing emails and just need a little extra help, I have over 65 email templates in the shop. Feel free to snag those and save yourself having to write all these emails from scratch!
A planner is a little different because they don’t have immediate access to the wedding photos. So be in touch with the photographer (planners, florists, everybody!) and ask if they could share some sneak peaks and you can direct them back to the photographer’s website. So what you just have done is not only are you able to still blog the couple, if you aren’t the photographer, but you are helping to boost the photographer’s SEO and they are going to love you for that!
Once you have taken care of that… if you are a photographer you are going to spend the next 72 million years editing and then from there sending the gallery out. As far as a review… if you do not have this as part of your workflow you are doing yourself a huge disservice! Huge! The life line of our business truly is word of mouth or through reading reviews. So what I do in this email is I simply say:
“Loved working with you. Please feel free, if you enjoyed the experience as well, leave us a quick couple of sentences here…”
You are directing them and guiding them to where you want them to leave that review. If it is Google, if it is Wedding Wire, the Knot, your Facebook page, if you have a special review receiving thing… make it as pain free as possible! Give them a few questions to get their mind going on what to say:
- If you were to recommend working with us to your best friend what would you say?
- What did you enjoy about our process?
- How were we helpful?
A couple last things! Since I was a planner I would ask the photographer for wedding photos 2 weeks after the event end date and this basically was just a reminder for myself if the photographer wasn’t good at sending over images. If you are a photographer… this is a lost art. When I was the studio manager for Boston Wedding Photographer for 4 years… that is one thing that set our studio apart. I made it a point to create vendor galleries for all of the vendors that were involved. They never had to ask us for photos… it just came to them. They could expect it. Make this part of your workflow!
The last part I have in my work flow is send out a reminder one year after the end date with an email saying… “Can you believe its been a year!? Just wishing you continued happiness”. This is where the email templates come in handy! That is the general scope of a workflow! It is supposed to be simple but again sit down with a piece of paper and ask yourself… What happens when someone reaches out to you inquiring about your services? Write down every step and that will make it easier to implement into a program like Dubsado.
Q + A Time!
Q: Is it okay to ask for a review as a photographer is the final product is not finished?
A: That is up to each individual photographer. If you are an amateur photographer, I would wait to ask for a review simply because you want to make sure your work was up to par. If though you are consistent and you have been in it for awhile, then I would say absolutely. You can rest assured that the final product is what they hired you for.
Q: What happens if your couple did not make it a year?
A: Go into your workflow and PAUSE it! Or delete the last step. You do not want that last email to go out. If it does go out… it is not the end of the world. It is not your fault their marriage crumbled. Sometimes if the groom or bride remarries… they want to rehire you!
Q: As a planner, did you do in-person consults?
A: I never did because I lived in NH and 90% of my brides and grooms were destination. But I did get consults around my area, it was just fewer and far between. I never left a consult open. There was always a next step. Because when you leave it open ended… they fall. They need to know what next step is working with you. Go with your gut!
Q: Do you pick the clients you want reviews from?
A: 90% of the time I would let the workflow work for itself, and work for you. But if you had a problem bride or groom… you just didn’t jive well… chances are I would take that step in your workflow out. But if they do leave you a poor review, it makes you human! You don’t have to be perfect.
Q: How many times do you follow up with your leads?
A: I used to follow up twice. Send another email out in regards to “wedding planning can be busy ad stressful and I didn’t want my email to get lost. If you decided to take a different road, that is okay!”. I would follow up for about a week. But it depends! Follow your gut! Some of my best wedding clients were when I followed up multiple times.