Congratulations! Your Complimentary Consultation went great, and your client is ready to book! You’ve popped some champagne to celebrate, but now what? What steps do you need to take to make sure they start working with you with ease and don’t double guess their decision to book you? That is where your onboarding process comes in! Onboarding a client is when you really set the stage for the next few months and get your clients ready for a successful planning process. But I know that this can seem like a pretty overwhelming process for many wedding planners and coordinators. Many planners and coordinators make some common onboarding mistakes.
So, what exactly is onboarding?
Onboarding is simply the process of turning a prospective client into a booked client. It consists of a workflow or system that you rinse and repeat with each and every new client. Depending on what types of wedding planning or coordination packages you offer, you might need to have a few different onboarding processes. But the overall steps remain the same!
Today, we will cover a simple workflow and some of the common onboarding mistakes I see planners and coordinators make. Let’s dive in!
My Onboarding Workflow
Whether it’s via CRM (like Honeybook) or a simple GoogleDoc, it’s important to have a workflow in place so that there’s no guessing what all needs to happen next. This isn’t just for your client, but for you as well! It’s easy to let little details and steps fall through the cracks, especially during a busy wedding season. Once a client has signed and paid, here’s a general onboarding workflow I recommend:
Your welcome email will include all the need-to-know details. This can consist of your welcome guide and link to the calendar to set up the first consultation. (If your contract doesn’t start for a few months, inform the client when to expect the first consultation.) You can also include homework, a reminder of office hours, and communication preferences.
If you’re unsure what to write in this email, check out my 21 Client Communication Email Templates! I include a template for onboarding, straight from my very own workflow!
On The Backend
A large part of your onboarding workflow is completing the backend. Here is the order I recommend:
- Counter-sign the contract.
- Add the wedding date to your master calendar.
- Create a Google Drive folder for the client with a copy of client documents. This makes it easy to share documents with your clients and keep them organized.
- Copy over client workflow in your CRM, with all dates, and need to know details from the inquiry and proposal process. Don’t forget to add in the due dates for invoices!
- Send welcome and/or referral gifts.
If your package includes a kick-off call, make sure to get that scheduled right away. If the client does not start for a few months, make sure they know when you will reach out to schedule this call.
Start The Next Phase
Once the onboarding process is complete, your planning process starts!
Common Onboarding Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)
Now that you’re familiar with the onboarding workflow, it’s time to go over some common mistakes. If some of these ring a bell – don’t worry! Your onboarding workflow is one that you will update and refine again and again. My onboarding process is much different now than when I started my business. And it continues to be updated as things change!
Mistake 01: Onboarding before they’re actually a client.
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make! Sometimes we get too excited to work with a new client that we dive right on in – before a contract is signed and the retainer is paid. Nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – should be done before a contract is signed and paid for. Not even sending a pre-wedding questionnaire or a list of vendors.
Mistake 02: Waiting too long to onboard.
Even if your client is booking far in advance, and you won’t be starting with them for a few months, onboard them right away! I see a lot of planners who wait to onboard them until right before the start date. This can cause a few issues! First, the client might feel confused about the next steps, and unsure if they made the right choice. Second, you need to make sure you get the contract signed and any initial payments planned in your CRM system.
For example: If you book a month-of coordination client one year out, still onboard them right away. Include a guide on the process, including due dates, planning checklists, and vendor recommendations. Set up any calls included in their package upfront, so they are blocked out in your calendar, and the client knows when they happen. Even if you don’t start working with them until eight weeks before the wedding, make sure they are ready to go as soon as they are booked!
Mistake 03: Having a complicated onboarding process.
Your onboarding process should be quick and easy, with minimal emails back and forth. That is why the #1 tool every planning business needs is a CRM! A CRM system will allow you to automate many parts of this process, and make contracts and invoices extremely easy for your client to fill out. Trust me – your client does not want to print out a contract, fill it out, scan it, and email it back. Instead, have your CRM system in place before onboarding a client! In my business, I use Honeybook to automate and simplify this process – I and I absolutely love it!
Mistake 04: Not being descriptive enough.
What happens when a client pays? Do they set a kick-off call? Or get a checklist? Or start booking vendors? You need to ensure every step is outlined, including what to do next. The minute the invoice is paid and the contract is signed, they need to know what to do next – and they need to know right away!
Isn’t it the worst when you’ve paid a sizable deposit for something and you receive zero confirmation that A) they even received it and B) nothing in return explaining what will happen next or what to expect? This is the same for our planning clients. Over-explain the process!
Your Onboarding Workflow
As you start to map out your workflow and avoid common onboarding mistakes, don’t stress too much about the details. It doesn’t need to be super complex, with dozens of emails and touchpoints. The simpler, the better! The overall goal of this process is to get your client booked, comfortable with the process, and aware of what comes next. And remember – this might change over time, and that is okay! You can rework and refine this process again and again.