What do you think of when I say the word “costs”? As a wedding planner, you probably think of the basics. Expenses like travel, assistants, client gifts, credit card fees, subscriptions, etc. And while these are true costs, one of the biggest mistakes I see planners make is actually what is costing them the most:
I talk a lot about the importance of time tracking for client work. And a lot of wedding planners I work with 1-1 tend to have the “It is what it is!” viewpoint. That time is just part of the package and services, and it is too much of a hassle to track. So they just guess how much time they spend.
Not considering time as a part of your costs is hurting your business.
It is causing you to overextend yourself, give away too much of your time, and could eventually lead to burnout. Often, when my coaching students don’t track their hours, they end up losing money. They underestimate the time truly involved for each of their different service offerings and instead overextend themselves, giving away too much of their time and energy.
That is why today I am sharing 3-time tracking mistakes wedding planners make, and how to fix them.
Mistake #1: Not understanding the value of time tracking
When I talk about time tracking, I don’t just mean tracking hours on a consultation or time traveling to and from venues. I am talking about every little detail that takes up your time in a day for each client you work with. Time tracking is so beneficial for a few reasons.
First, it helps us identify problems to make strategic plans to improve our productivity. For example, if you are finding that you spend 10 hours per month, per client, responding to emails, it is time for you to create a better system. A solution could be implementing email templates that allow you to answer the same questions over and over again in just minutes. In my 43 Email Template Bundle, I give you email templates for all areas of your business – from client communication to vendors! This will save you hours each month.
Second, when we know which tasks take the most of your time, we can begin to reflect on whether that time is well spent. And most importantly, once you understand where your time is going for each client, you can accurately price your services.
Mistake #2: Not Being Compensated for Each Client
One of the biggest mistakes I see wedding planners make? Offering unlimited consultations and unlimited day of hours. Every single minute working with a client needs to be accounted for, and you need to set boundaries. This includes office hours. If you let a client text you at any hour of the day, you are not ensuring that you are actually being compensated for this extra time. Setting boundaries with your clients will allow you to make more money and make working with clients much easier.
When it comes to what to track for each client, this is a good starting list:
Booking + On-boarding
This is one of the most overlooked! From the initial email inquiry to the complimentary consultation, this should all be tracked. Other items to track include:
- Creating and sending a proposal.
- Confirming package chosen.
- Contract and invoice creation.
- Contract and payment processing.
And don’t forget client onboarding! From the welcome email, to sending documents to welcome gifts, this all needs to be accounted for.
Meeting Prep Work
We all know that you can spend hours preparing for vendor and client meetings. This can include email communication back and forth, review of client details, and prepping questions or details for review.
Backend (Behind the Scenes) Work
This is where a majority of your hours will be. From client email communication to vendor communication to timeline management. This can also include creating and updating onsite details and various updates each month.
Consultations include virtual, phone or in-person meetings (all of them – even spontaneous calls you may take!)
Wedding Day Prep
Finalizing and printing onsite details, sifting through and reviewing client décor, packing, and client gifts.
Make sure you track drive time for all meetings for each client. You’ll want to also include drive time to and from any and all wedding weekend festivities (Rehearsal, Wedding Day, Day After Brunch) and even the time it takes to return items post-wedding if that’s a service you offer.
Pre-Wedding Day Setup, Rehearsal, Wedding Day (ceremony, reception), Day After Brunch, etc.
Closing Out Contracts
Even your post-wedding workflow needs to be tracked! From final vendor wrap-up emails to requesting reviews. You should also track how long it takes to run Profit and Loss reports each month.
Mistake #3: Not Setting Goals + Doing The Math
You can’t set goals if you don’t do the math to see if they work. While there is tremendous value in doing market research to see what to charge, I want to encourage you to do the math as well. I often see new wedding planners basing their pricing on what they see other people charge or what their clients are looking to pay. However, you need to do the math on your end and see if what you are offering (and charging!) is indeed profitable.
- What is YOUR lifestyle and what do YOU need to bring home?
- How much time are YOU putting forth towards each of your service offerings?
- What items are included in YOUR packages?
Just because you see some planners and coordinators charging a certain dollar amount doesn’t mean they’ve actually done the math and actually made money. Or maybe the services they provide within the packages are completely different than what you provide.
Time Tracking Tips
As you begin time tracking in your business, I wanted to share a few easy tips to get you started!
- Track your time for each service offering (coordination, partial, full). These will all have very different average hours spent!
- Note the amount of time spent from start to finish. From inquiry to the final email.
- Note tasks that can be automated (emails, contracts, questionnaires).
- Write down tasks you’re not getting paid for (extra phone calls, extra work, starting services earlier than actually contracted for).
- Track time in 5-minute increments. This way, you can have a buffer in place.
- Track time in 3 major content buckets:
- Consultations: All client-facing meetings or calls, including the complimentary consultation.
- Prep work: All emails, timeline creation, creating and updating onsite details, vendor communication, etc.
- Wedding weekend/day of: The time you spend throughout the wedding weekend (from the rehearsal, to day of, to brunch, etc.)
- Use a time tracking app to make it easy. I love the time tracking feature inside of Honeybook, but Toggl is another free option!
- Don’t wait – start now! This is my biggest tip. Even if time-tracking sounds overwhelming, I assure you it will help you better understand if you’re even pricing yourself for profit in the first place!
As you go through your services and track your time, make a note of what is taking you too long to do! I have templates inside my shop that are custom made for wedding planners and coordinators, and guaranteed to save you time (and money!). By automating many of these time-consuming tasks or having templates in place, you can save dozens of hours for every client.