How Honeybook Gave Us Our Lives Back: A Review
For those of you following at home, you may know that there are 36 weddings on our calendar this year. In the photography world, that’s quite the workload! We would have been underwater trapped in the weeds if it wasn’t for the system we have in place to keep everything organized and efficient with clear communication at every turn.
It’s a little embarrassing to say, but we’re all about transparency and community over competition. What I am about to share with you will hopefully plant deep into the heart of your business. Our goal? To have you learn from our mistakes! We have so many mistakes to choose from, but our previous lack of workflow and studio management was the most detrimental to our success for YEARS.
Grab something to sip on and a snack! We got some learnin’ to do, friends!
Why do you need a CRM/studio management system?
To put it plainly: to keep this boat afloat! There are hundreds of minor and major tasks you must manage daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly in your business. Our brains can only hold so many mental checklists and a notebook can only keep so many checklists organized for you. A CRM (client relationship management) system will keep you in check and on track in your client experience, back end of your business, and your workflows. We can’t book and serve our clients if we aren’t prepared to do so!
Take a moment to think about this: how are your time management skills? What else are you juggling in your life? For me, I am a full time business owner, a wife, a mom, a Rising Tide co-leader, etc, etc, etc. Before I started using a studio management system I was s t r e t c h e d t h i n. I could’t possibly show up for every person in my life (and for myself) when there are seemingly not enough hours in the day.
Then a CRM/studio management system walked into my life... Everything changed. It gave me the tools and confidence to turn our business into a full time income and gave me more time to do what we love - being a family, serving our clients, and creating!
The program we use is called HoneyBook!
Geared towards business owners in creative fields, HoneyBook is a one-stop shop for everything you could ever hope to put into your client’s experience with you! It has been instrumental in the success of our business.
There are countless features that we love, but I wanted to highlight some of their “we can’t live without these” features for you!
HoneyBook is available on your desktop and they have an incredible app for your mobile device!
Over the winter our daughter closed my laptop without knowing I had a pen on my keyboard. The screen shattered. (I am STILL cringing thinking about it.) We had to send it out to Apple for over a week to get it replaced. A whole week without being able to reply to emails? Send timelines? Talk to new inquiring couples? That would be detrimental to our business. But, I wasn’t even stressed for a second.
Thanks to the HoneyBook app we booked our highest wedding package yet, coordinated upcoming timelines, fielded questions, and never missed a beat in our business workflows. Our clients had no idea we were without a computer. We were able to continue our excellent client experience and generate income… FROM A FREE APP.
2. Customizable Contact Form Easily Embedded On Our Website
From the first moment a potential client reaches out to us, we are setting our client experience expectations + giving them a peek into who we are as people. It’s silly, but I mean…. it’s the Office. Our mantra for our ideal client is “for couples who laugh loudly, and love deeply. ” This inquiry form sets the tone and pace of their experience. HoneyBook allows you to curate exactly how you’d like to speak to your prospective clients. We have a different inquiry form curated specifically for our wedding clients. You can see it here. A perk of using the HoneyBook contact form is the streamlined process that begins once someone inquires. The moment the inquiry comes through to your dashboard you will be able to see if you are available thanks to your calendar being synced to your dashboard.
3. Client Communication System
This is my ultimate favorite feature…. all your communication with every single client is in one place. Gone are the days of forgetting details, trying to search your email inbox for an obscure message your couple sent you about what thoughts they had on what their first dance song is, or how many hours they booked you for. With ease, I can simply click on the couples “project” and get myself up to speed on their details before I strike up a conversation or reply to an email.
I can also send them brochures, their contract/proposal, invoices, questionnaires, links to their gallery, etc. There’s also a little notepad on the side to jot down the things we talk about in person, photo locations, or an idea I may have that I want to follow up with.
This ties into time management and trying to reach my goal of putting more time back into my family and being able to serve our clients. How many times do you feel like you’re writing the same email over and over again, but maybe you are leaving out crucial information? Pre-HoneyBook Christy used to function this way. My emails were sporadic, either leaving out detail or adding in too much and it generally wasn’t working. With HoneyBook you can save templates for anything. We have templates for emails in any situation (live gallery, new booking inquiry, live blog post, etc), brochures, contracts/proposals, and our questionnaires. Now when an inquiry comes in or someone asks “what’s a first look?” I have our templates ready to go! I reply with a few clicks and just like that I have served my client without adding on 30 minutes of work to my day.
They even have a template for your email signature! Try it out here: free email signature
5. Payment Plans
HoneyBook’s payment features was the tipping point in my decision to sign up. Before I had clients sending me checks, or stressing about being paid in full before their wedding, not remembering how much they’ve paid me and all sorts of issues that would have been easily remedied had I just been properly set up with a system. It’s no secret that the average photographer experiences some light cash flow times in the off season due to when retainers and payments are required. Most photographers require a 50% retainer, and only 2-3 payments to take care of the remaining balance. This means money is transferred to your bank account only 5 or so times a YEAR per wedding. Personally, we don’t like that. It doesn’t work for us, but more importantly it’s lousy for the couple. The average couple is making large installments to over 5+ vendors. We want to be the vendor that acknowledges weddings shouldn’t put people out, we respect their investment and we want to make this as easy as possible for them because we value and appreciate them. This is one of the first ways we make sure our clients are taken care of by us. With the help of this HoneyBook feature, we set each client up with a payment plan. We simply require a 25% retainer, then we divide the payments equally from the remaining balance until the week before their wedding. Clients may set up a reoccurring payment through their debit or credit card. It’s that easy. There is even an option to tip!
Our 2018 goal was to have me leave my full time job and to have George step down from his management position at his job. We were fearful about going through this winter without weekly paychecks. But now? Fear be gone. HoneyBook allows you to strategically set up each payment plan to be paid on a set day throughout the month. I have set ours up to have 1 client payment to come in on the first Thursday a month, then 1 more for the second, and 1 more for the 3rd. When we receive a new booking I assign them to one of the Thursdays and just like that we are able to budget our family, taxes, and live happily without money related stress.
6. Booking Success Rate
HoneyBook’s reporting feature keeps track of all your business statistics. One of our favorite stats is the “booking success rate".” In one year of using HoneyBook we have booked 75% of the inquiries that have “walked” through our “front door".
Now for a real crummy statistic: our booking success rate from 2008-2018…. wait! That number doesn’t even exist. I had no system in place to keep track of the inquiries that were coming in. Did I follow up with them? Was I serving them before they were even our clients? I think we know the answers to those questions. No. Who knows how many potential dream wedding clients are out there that I missed my chance with. Never again will I let that happen.
7. Elevate Your Client Experience
It’s amazing what changes you can make within your business when you have time to step away from the back end of things and actually be in your business. This last year we’ve been able to transform our client experience to a place it’s never been before! Gone are the days of showing up to weddings without a real plan, or good communication in the months leading up to the wedding day. With HoneyBook we have the chance to educate our couples, hear about their wedding dreams, and plan timelines with them to make those dreams come true. We were able to raise our prices, give more of ourselves and create a one-of-a-kind tailored experience for every Eisley Couple. HoneyBook has been the missing key that was holding us back from true entrepreneurial success for years.
8. Workflow & Tasks
Once you’ve created your templates and set yourself up for success, it’s time to act on it! Honeybook’s workflow process keeps this train chuggin’ along. What good is all this prep you’ve done if you can’t act on it?
A workflow is the ordered process from start to finish in which you have to accomplish your set goal. Now, think about how many things you have a workflow for. We’ll share ours with you… we have a workflow for: Inquiries, Client On-boarding, Engagement Session, Wedding Planning Stage, Post-Production, Albums, and Client Care. That’s a lot to keep track of! It would be so easy to have something slip through the cracks which could result in a future problem that could hurt our client’s experience and ultimately our profit in our business. Our client management system keeps all of this functioning and our brains in one place.
9. Contracts - Signed and we’re yours!
Back in the day we would snail mail our contracts, but sometimes we’d do something real wild… We’d take time out of our day driving up to an hour for a simple signature. That’s a mess! Having the availability for our business to match this technology driven world with instant satisfaction of contract signing puts us on top of our game! Our clients are able to e-sign and immediately receive their legally binding copy of our contract. During our time together, it stays easily accessible for them (and for us!) to refer back to. No confusion, just happy clients.
With the provided expense reports, we are able to budget and plan accordingly for the year! How many weddings do we need to book? Can we outsource some editing? Can we plan a family vacation? Should we raise our prices?
To track our mileage, expenses, and taxes we use Quickbooks. HoneyBook gives you the ability to import your Quickbooks data so everything you need is in one place. You can see your whole business at a glance. However, it certainly wouldn’t be a huge deal breaker for us if we didn’t have the ability to import our Quickbooks information. Let’s call it an added bonus!
Ready for the best news you’ve heard all day? HoneyBook is wildly affordable - even without the 50% off! After your free trial, should you decide this is the CRM for you, it’s only $20 a month for the first year.
I can guarantee you, this will be the best $20 you spend all month. Why? You’re choosing to invest in yourself, your business, and those big dreams of yours! There is always a way to find money in your budget for the things we love, the goals we want to pursue, and to make this business of yours boomin’. $20? If that’s what it takes to turn a profit, now is the time! That’s only a few Starbucks visits, right? You got this!
HoneyBook makes running a business less time consuming and enjoyable. It gives us precious hours back into our family life, time spent creating, and serving our clients. It’s the answer to every difficulty I have ever had as a business owner. Our entire business is at our fingertips - contracts, invoices, calendar, reports, brochures, timelines. All of it!
Let’s get organized, organized!
(I truly hope you sang that in your head to the tune of “Let’s get physical”.)
QuickBooks makes tax season a breeze! We started using it in 2017 on January 1st. This is just another thing I am kicking myself for. Why did I wait so long?! From my phone I can track our mileage, expenses, and we can see an overview of all our bank accounts (including paypal!). Gone are the days of sorting through receipts, or keeping a notebook in the car to write down how far we traveled for business. At the end of the day I can easily swipe left or right on our transactions and mileage to sort them by business and personal.
When tax season rolls around we simply email our data to our CPA. It has made everything smoother, easier to understand and stress free for all parties involved. Tax season isn’t something to fear, friends. It’s something to embrace in your business.
Don’t go another day in your business without using Quickbooks.
Here’s a 50% off code to get you started: CLICK HERE