Systems in your wedding industry business–which ones do you REALLY need? Inside this guest post, systems expert for wedding pros, Sarahna Fernandes, breaks down the 5 systems you need RIGHT NOW in your wedding industry business.
Sarahna has been helping wedding industry pros, like you, build better systems in their business for years. She wants you to make it simple–so you can get back to doing what you love.
In this article, she breaks down the top 5 systems you need to have in your business.
Why are systems important for wedding pros?
The wedding industry is unique. The people who operate within it have extraordinary skill sets that I have frequently found myself in awe of their talents.
As a Wedding Planner for over 10 years, I understand the ins-and-outs of your wedding industry business and genuinely understand the challenges you face, especially in today's wedding landscape.
Weddings are intense.
No matter the size or theme, weddings have so many layers, sub-layers, and nuances. It is expected that wedding pros can maneuver and maneuver all these moving parts well.
Your clients are celebrating a HUGE moment in their lives, and so are their families and friends. They invest sizable sums of money into the event and a lot of time. It is also an event that is built up in their minds. Whether they have dreamed about this day since they were little or not, society has established several wedding constructs.
- It's got to be one of the most memorable days in your entire life
- You should be ecstatic from the moment you get engaged onwards
- Wow-factor is the name of the game
- No details should be omitted
What this all adds up to for the wedding pros like you is high demand and high expectations.
Our clients and their families want to feel cherished from the moment they hire us. The relationship is often short and sweet, and for everyone's sake, we are banking on no-repeats!
It's like a ‘one shot at gold' kind of situation. While this is exactly what we've signed up for, it can often become overwhelming for us to consistently meet our clients' needs in a way that keeps us competitive and not burnt-out.
How do you continue to surprise and delight your clients by anticipating their every need, while dreaming up a masterpiece each and every time, and executing your work with mind-blowing precision and professionalism?
But let's not stop there …let's throw in running your successful business like a total BOSS, while finding time to have a personal life?
Now if you're thinking….well, the only thing missing is the actual magic wand, I don't blame you!
Yes, I've listed a TALL order to fill. Still, as someone who has lived through a decade of weddings AND observed others closely in the industry, I can confidently say that the solution to this problem is in the systems and processes you have set up in your business.
I know these are terms that are often thrown around, and we all nod in agreement, but if we're being honest, some of us don't actually know what the heck is meant by ‘systems & processes'… so let's start with this!
What are Business Systems & Processes?
Systems and processes are part of any business's foundation because they define HOW you run your business.
They include the steps you take to execute each task and the resources necessary for creating your product or service and working with your clients.
They take into account both the front-end and the back-end of your business and how your professional and personal realms co-exist for you and each of your team members.
If you design and implement the correct systems and processes, you will achieve your goals of running a successful wedding business that meets the high expectations of the modern wedding clients while affording you the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Now that we are all on the same page, I want to share which 5 systems I think are most critical for wedding pros to have right now in their business:
Wedding Pro System #1: Client On-boarding & Off-boarding
The client experience is quickly becoming the game-changer for your wedding industry business. It is what people are using to determine who they hire.
This system begins from the moment they inquire about your services until a year after their wedding when you send them a thoughtful anniversary greeting.
The system you design for this should be simple yet efficient. Your client on-boarding & off-boarding system should be infused with your brand message and focused on reassuring the client that choosing YOU was a fantastic decision.
⇨ Implement These Action Steps:
- Map out an IDEAL client experience listing all of the actions and personal touches you would like your clients to experience. (Tip: I love to use ASANA to do this kind of mapping)
- Create a series of email templates that cover your client's entire journey with you. You can easily personalize and schedule these to be delivered to them via automation. Some suggestions for these templates are:
- A nurturing sequence that shows your immense value and helps them “buy” your services.
- The process of getting them signed up, payment made & clear understanding of how things will proceed
- A sequence that wraps up your service and shows your appreciation while sharing how you might be able to work together again.
Interested in having Sarahna audit your on-boarding and off-boarding systems? Click here to learn more about her services.
Wedding Pro System #2: Work-In-Progress Communications
One of the most frequent complaints I received from my wedding clients was that they wished there were more communication/feedback from some of their vendors.
Do you get the same nudges from your clients?
It seems like they would get past the hiring stage, and then the next round of interaction would come right before the Big Day.
Now while I understood why more interaction wasn’t technically necessary (and I would reassure them accordingly), the clients were hoping for MORE of an experience that provided them with valuable information and further assurance.
I highly recommend implementing a system that establishes communication with your clients throughout their planning process, and solidifies the whole ‘know, like and trust’ factor.
⇨ Implement These Action Steps:
- Create email templates and/or pdf documents that include different pieces of relevant information and general checking-in messages that cover the timeline of your job.
- Schedule these emails to line up with key points on the wedding planning timeline so that your clients always have relevant information at hand and are reminded that you are always there for them. You can also use this sequence to acquire the information YOU need in a timely manner. (PS: Honeybook is great for this!)
Interested in having Sarahna help you automate and create this process? Click here to learn more about her services.
Wedding Pro System #3: Managing the Money Side
Another critical system to perfect is the whole money management aspect of working with clients.
Does booking keeping make your eyes glaze over? Us too.
Weddings are often a hefty financial undertaking for clients and their families, so transparency and accuracy are essential.
The other challenge I have seen many wedding pros face is keeping track of changes to their scope of works, and ensuring that the clients are also kept abreast of the bottom line with regards to the various budget revisions.
This is where a system that captures all revisions as well as tracks the budget in real-time would be most beneficial to you and your clients.
⇨ Implement These Action Steps:
- Make sure you have an organized system in place to deliver quotations, client agreements, invoices & receipts. This can be something you custom build or accounting software or a CRM such as Honeybook. Ideally, you want to be able to deliver these documents automatically which is possible in each of the examples listed.
- implement a system that is real-time and fully accessible to the clients that track all revisions and their accompanying budget adjustments that you can also track all the approvals from the clients for the changes.
Interested in having Sarahna help you mind your money systems? Click here to learn more about her services.
Wedding Pro System #4: Wedding Day Execution
While this next system may seem obvious to you…. a system that governs the execution of your job on the Big Day, it is the level of detail that I want to discuss.
I highly recommend creating a system that documents the step by step process of how you do your job on the wedding day in such a manner that in the unfortunate event that you are personally unable to perform, a team member could complete the execution following a series of detailed checklists and outlined procedures.
⇨ Implement These Action Steps:
- Map out the steps you take to prepare:
- for the wedding day
- during the event
- steps you take after the event to wrap up the entire job.
- I know this task can seem massive, so break it up into smaller chunks of time (e.g. 1-Mth before, 1-wk before, Day-of, etc).
- Create checklists from the steps recorded and save them somewhere accessible for team members or an emergency substitute (*Bonus: Figure out an Emergency Substitute that you can hand over a job to in the event that you are unable to execute your work)
Want help creating your SOP? Click here to learn more about how Sarahna can help you.
Wedding Pro System #5: Sharing your amazing work with the world
This last system I have found to be often ignored (I myself have been guilty of this), but it is really becoming exceedingly important in this highly competitive environment.
I am referring to the process of acquiring the necessary materials that document your excellent client work that you can now use to acquire new business.
This includes the pictures of your work, the client and vendor testimonials and your own stories that help record the beautiful memories you created with your amazing clients.
The system should provide you with a seamless gathering of the relevant resources, archiving, processing and sharing with your audience and potential clients. The world needs what you have to offer, so showcasing your extraordinary work is essential.
⇨ Implement These Action Steps:
- Create template emails to show your appreciation and request testimonials (and images where applicable) from your clients and the other vendors who worked with you on the event. The plan here is to personalize and schedule these emails during your course of the job so that once the event is complete these requests will go off without your input.
- Map out your process of handling testimonials and images to be shared on your social platforms or in any of your marketing materials
So, what do you do now?
Chances are that you already have a version of some, if not all of these 5 systems currently implemented in your business, so that means you are ahead of the game…fantastic!
What I recommend you do now is to conduct an audit of your systems and processes in order to determine where you can tighten up and improve the overall experience for your clients and yourself.
Remember that the objective is to have systems and processes in place that help you to surprise and delight your clients and therefore elevate the overall client experience of working with you while meeting all of their needs efficiently.
It is also really important to create systems that improve YOUR work experience and elevate the quality of your professional life by earning you more income and more control over your time.
If you would like help with the task, you can download a free guide to auditing your own systems and processes here.
As your business grows, it will become necessary to consistently assess your client experience as well as periodically audit your systems and processes in order to determine if they are continuing to meet the needs of your business and your team.
Remember innovation is constant, so you want to make sure you are utilizing the resources available to you that could help make running your business more efficient and impactful. I suggest an annual assessment with a solid commitment to keeping your eyes and ears open for any improvements that result in you working smarter, not harder in your business.
There is also the option of getting an expert’s help to take your business to the next level. After a decade in the wedding industry, I decided to transition into the role of a Business Systems Strategy for Wedding Pros where I work closely with wedding pros just like you to create not only effective but sustainable business systems that align with your natural inclinations and create harmonious and mutually beneficial outcomes in both your personal and professional lives.
If the idea of having help and someone to guide you as you figure out how to improve your systems and processes sounds like exactly what you need in your business right now…. then we should definitely jump on a call and get to know each other a little better, and you can easily book that call by visiting my website.
But if you’ve decided to go on this adventure solo, I highly encourage you to use my free Systems Audit Guide and remember that I’m just a click away should you need any future help.
Who is Sarahna Fernandes?
Sarahna Fernandes has been a Wedding Planner since 2009. She first started as a side-hustle to her corporate job, and then as a dual-career alongside helping her husband run a family-owned landscaping business. Systems and process for wedding pros has been her main focus once she became a mom in 2014.
These days she commands 3 branches of her business- Simply Organized Weddings, Simply Organized Homes & Simply Organized Solutions, where she gets to use her love of systems, processes, and everything organizational to help her clients through the various stages of life.
In her spare time (yes it’s real) she is a wife, a mom to 2 kids, a dog, and 3 tortoises. She’s got a weakness is office supplies and chocolate eclairs.
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