You hear the term “onboarding” often, but what does it actually mean? Onboarding consists of the business systems and processes that allow us to give our couples the best possible client experience. In today’s post, Calla of Calla Lily Co is sharing with us her wedding planner onboarding process.
Wedding Planner Onboarding
Client onboarding is one of the most essential aspects of building and maintaining a new client relationship right out of the gate. With that being said, there are many, many ways that this seemingly straightforward task can go awry.
As a day-of coordinator and online coach for my business, Calla Lily Co., I’ve had to learn how to seamlessly onboard new clients through trial and error. I’ll break down what this process should look like and my top tips for success.
Let’s get into it!
You’ve fielded the initial inquiry. You’ve convinced your new client to book with you. Now what?
Hosting a welcome meeting is the first thing you should do (after you finish happy dancing!) once you’ve received confirmation that your new client is going to book with you.
This meeting will set the tone for the rest of your professional working relationship. It serves as your chance to gather important information about that client’s vision and expectations for you. Additionally, it gives you the opportunity to establish your policies and procedures upfront so you can manage expectations like the boss you are!
Ideally, this meeting should take place in person (if circumstances allow) and last about 45 minutes to an hour.
Before the end of the meeting, you should have broken down the best payment plan for that client (for the invoice you’re about to pull together) and scheduled a follow-up meeting.
Invoices and Contracts
The next step is to send your new client his or her personalized invoice and contract based on what you learned from the welcome meeting.
Initially, putting these together can feel overwhelming and icky. However, if you establish a customizable template, you can quickly expedite this process for future clients.
For the invoice, be sure to mention whether or not you included taxes for your services upfront to avoid shocking your new client with any surprise fees. Ideally, you’ll want to offer flexible payment plans and utilize the auto-pay feature to avoid having to track down any expected payments.
For the contract, keep it simple. HoneyBook offers lots of great templates to build off of that are straightforward and easy to customize. Your contract offers a great opportunity for you to reiterate your policies and protect yourself from being taken advantage of.
Remember: the smoother you can make this process, the happier your client will be! Booking lots of vendors for an expensive wedding can feel scary, so take excellent care of your new couple and treat them with respect and honesty.
When it comes to wedding planning, there is a full spectrum of services available. If you’re a full-service wedding planner, you’ll be heavily involved in the process from start to finish and want to maintain professionalism in all of your extensive communications. As a day-of coordinator, I have fewer chances to interact with my clients, so I strive to go above and beyond whenever possible.
To manage communications effectively, be upfront about your policies, the best way to reach you, and when you’re available to offer advice.
Maintain your boundaries and ensure that both of your needs are met.
If you manage communications well, the wedding day will go smoothly, and your couple will be overjoyed that they chose to work with YOU!
Top Tips for Success
#1 Establish Ease of Access
Provide your clients with a consistent point of contact so they always know how to reach out with their burning questions. Doing this will ensure that you can stay on top of your communications and keep track of your clients’ needs.
Additionally, you should create a simple PDF that answers frequently asked questions in one centralized place. Be sure to share this with new clients so they can easily find an answer in case you’re unavailable.
#2 Use Tools
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is crucial to being a successful business owner in a digital age—especially if you’re working with multiple clients. The best way to keep track of all of your clients (regardless of which stage of the workflow they’re in) is to use a tool that does it for you.
HoneyBook is perfect for building a workstream and managing a client area because it offers a plethora of customizable templates for emails, invoices, contracts, and so much more. It’ll also help you know what your next steps should be and share files easily with new clients.
Trello is wonderful for optimizing your productivity. You can create cards to write out to-do lists and keep your projects separated.
Either way, using tools is the best way to get your never-ending to-do list out of your head and into an intelligent system that can help manage your responsibilities and make the client onboarding process as simple as possible!
#3 Foster the Client Experience
When onboarding new clients, you’ll want to underpromise and overdeliver. Doing so will impress your clients and wow them with your ability to always go above and beyond their expectations.
A simple way to do this is by sending a handwritten thank-you note or simple care package. Gifting adds such a sweet touch and is guaranteed to bring a smile to their faces!
Beyond gifting, you can impress your clients by taking diligent notes about their needs and handling all communications as soon as possible. You’d be surprised by how many details you can forget between meetings. Nothing will impress your clients more than seeing how sharp your memory is and knowing that they can always count on you with the minor details.
Wedding Planner Onboarding Recap:
The wedding planner onboarding process is essential to the overall success of your wedding planning business.
Client onboarding serves as your first opportunity to wow your clients and familiarize them with your policies, procedures, and the overall feel of working with you.
To consistently impress your new couples, you should host a welcome meeting, use customizable templates to quickly handle all contracts and invoices, and manage communications by establishing boundaries and expectations upfront.
Best of luck out there—you’ve got this!
Calla is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma, where she studied Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is putting those skills to the test with her business, Calla Lily Co., which is a wedding planning and online coaching company designed with early-stage entrepreneurs and DIY-couples in mind. She loves weddings, two-stepping, and Taco Bell with her whole heart!