157: How to Audit Your Wedding Business for a Successful New Year or New Quarter
Jan 16, 2020
How to Audit Your Wedding Business for a Successful New Year or New Quarter
ACTION ITEM #1: Sit down and assess how you felt at the end of last year or last quarter about your business. Grab a notebook and a pen and just write out any thoughts/words/phrases/ideas that come to mind. No need to worry about proper grammar here.
Why should we audit our wedding business?
I’m not usually one for a lot of “feelings” in business but what I like about assessing how we felt about our business last year or last quarter is how it helps inform us about which parts of our business to focus on improving and which parts went well.
Questions to help get you started:
- Did you feel like you were answering the same questions over and over again to couples, vendors, etc?
- Did you feel unorganized in any part of your business? Were you constantly “looking” for paperwork, items you need for event days, communication from your couples?
- Did you absolutely crush it with your onboarding and offboarding processes and want to repeat exactly what you did to continue to build on that success?
Now that you’ve taken the time to assess your business, we’re ready to audit our business and make a plan for what we’ll improve upon and what can be maintained because it went well.
We’re going to audit 4 key areas of your wedding business:
- Administrative (automation, on-boarding, off-boarding, employees, etc)
- Finances (taxes, bookkeeping, etc)
- Event Day
PRO TIP: You can sit down and perform this audit in one full day. Or, you can audit one section per day and take a full week to perform this audit. Do what works best for your schedule.
- Your Website:
- Gather numerical data on how your website performed in the time period you’re auditing. If you’re auditing last year’s performance make sure you’re changing your date filters to show you a full year of analytics. Compare your year over year performance.
- You can use Google Analytics or your website’s internal analytics system (like inside of Squarespace, Wix, etc).
What to Look For:
- Where did your website traffic come from? It’s important to find the traffic source where the traffic CONVERTED into paying clients. Who cares if you get a ton of referral traffic from Pinterest if it doesn’t impact your bottom line in some way?
- How many total page views did you have?
- How many unique views?
- How many unique visitors?
- What is your bounce rate?
- What is the time on site (how long people stay on your website)?
Action Step: After you’ve gathered this data, notate areas of your website you’ve found that need attention. Now, it’s time to brainstorm strategies for improvement.
Example: If your “time on site” is low and visitors are bouncing off quickly. What can you do to keep people on your website longer? People who stay on your website longer are more likely to contact you because they’ve invested time in getting to know your business. You want your “time on site” to be healthy.
- Social Media:
- If you set goals last year or last quarter for your social media channels now is the time to refer back to those goals to see if you reached them or not.
- Why did you set those goals? Did you set impactful business goals or did you create arbitrary “numeric” goals like “grow my Instagram by 300 followers”
- If you set goals and reached those goals (or didn’t reach them), how did it impact your business? Or, did it not really impact your business at all?
What to Look For:
- Do a thorough exam of each social media channel you’re using in your wedding business and determine how it’s impacting your business.
- Does Instagram refer paying clients to your business? Or, is it just a place where other vendors follow you?
- Do you have a consistent Pinterest strategy that you’re implementing to drive traffic to your website? If you’re planning on ever selling any digital or e-commerce products, Pinterest should be at the top of your list.
- Is Facebook completely dead for you and business doesn’t come from there at all? Was the last time you posted to Facebook in 2018?! (that’s a joke, you know what I mean).
- There isn’t a “wrong” answer to these questions. The truthful answer is what will inform you about the action steps you should take going forward when it comes to social media.
The conversation around social media for business feels like it’s always one extreme or another. We either LOVE it or we HATE it. I want us to challenge that trope this year and see social media for what it is in its most basic form. It’s a FREE way to connect with people, provide helpful content to other humans and to promote your business. Nothing more, nothing less.
Action Step: After analyzing the data, pick the top 2 or 3 social media channels that are performing the best for you (converting clients) and create a marketing strategy for those channels only. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve the social channels that aren’t performing for you sometime in the future. But right now, set those aside and put your energy into what is growing your business.
- Paid Advertising
- List out each paid advertising platform you pay for.
- The Knot, Wedding Wire
- Regional Directories
- Print Publications
- Paid Social (Instagram, FB Ads)
- Google Ads
- Wedding Shows
What to Look For:
- Which platforms performed the best for you and converted clients? If something didn’t convert well, is it at least promising and deserves more testing? Or is it something you need to take out of your marketing strategy to put those funds elsewhere?
- How can you improve your directory listings? Do you need to update your pricing brochure, your photos? Do you need to add or update video? Something important to remember about your directory listings is that it really needs to showcase your BEST work.
One of the mistakes I see clients making is posting ALL the photos because they think quantity is more important than quality. If you have one wedding that is absolutely stunning and is your ideal client, post photos of that wedding only and post as many as you can. Quality is better than quantity, every. single. time.
- Are there tweaks and changes you can make to your paid ads for better conversions?
- Do you have changes or updates you want to make to your wedding show setup or process?
Action Step: Using the questions above as inspiration, go through each paid advertising channel you have right now and determine where you can improve or where you can maintain because it’s going well.
Refresh your paid directories and consider changing images in paid ads to test conversion rates.
- Evaluate how you’re managing customers right now and determine if that’s working for you and for your business. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does client management feel organized with easy-to-follow steps?
- Can you easily locate client documentation and communication when needed?
- Do you have documentation in place that shares your client management workflow so it would be easy to pass off to a team member?
- Are there any changes you can make to your on-boarding or off-boarding process to make things easier for your clients? Where did you hit snags last year or last quarter that could be mitigated in the future by adding (or taking away) something from your on-boarding or off-boarding process.
- Have you automated as much of your CRM as you can? If not, do you have the bandwidth to implement automation yourself or should you hire someone to do it for you like Annie McCarty (check out her interview on the pod here)?
- Final Thought on Client Management: Your Client Management System doesn’t have to be something like Dubsado or Honeybook. If you’re doing just fine using spreadsheets, Google Docs and email then keep on keepin’ on! As long as it’s organized, useful and doesn’t hold you back at all, there’s no rule that says you have to have a CRM to be successful!
Quick Tip: I believe in “high-touch automation” in your wedding business. “High-touch automation” is just a fancy way of saying: “Automate what you can to take repeatable, mundane tasks off of your plate but don’t try to replace human contact with your clients.”
- Are there areas in your business that you’ve automated successfully? If so, do a quick check-up on those areas to ensure the automation is still running correctly.
Automations you may have:
- Scheduling software (such as Acuity Scheduling, my favorite!)
- Workflows in your CRM system
- Renewal of your domain name
- Automated Bills
- Contact Form on your website
- Can you add high-touch automation to any part of your business to help streamline and serve your clients well?
- Do you need to update or create an employee on-boarding and training process? Even if you hire event-day only help, having an efficient and well thought out way to onboard them and train them in how your business functions can save you time and potential anxiety during event days.
- Some things you may consider updating or creating: Employee Handbook, New Employee Agreements, Sales Training Slidedeck, Event Day Training Slidedeck, Additional Training Videos, etc.
- How are you paying employees/contractors? Do you need any updates to that process?
- Please consult an employment attorney and/or an accountant here so you’re following state employment laws.
- Evaluate how “in control” you feel when it comes to your finances.
- Do you need to hire a bookkeeper? Do you need to create Profit and Loss statements each month?
- Should you open more business checking accounts to help you be more organized with where your money is going? For example, you could have checking accounts for profit, expenses, investor payout, etc.
- Do you need to cancel any business subscriptions you gathered throughout the last year or last quarter that aren’t serving your business?
- Are there any holes you need to plug that are draining money?
- Think back to your marketing audit. What paid advertising opportunities are working for you that money should be allocated to? What opportunities are NOT working for you that need to be canceled so the money can be diverted?
- If you don’t have one, I’d encourage you to sit down with a CPA or Bookkeeper for 1 or 2 hours to get professional insight into what you should be doing in your business each month with regard to your finances. If you can’t afford to retain a bookkeeper right now, this one-time sit down could be invaluable
- How does event day prep and execution feel to you? Is it organized and seamless - does everyone know what they’re doing on an event day?
- Do you have a Pre-Event and Post-Event Checklist and process that everyone on your team follows? If not, now is a great time to create that.
- Examples of what might be on your checklist(s): packing your event day bag, restocking the event day bag, prepping your venue for events, cleaning up your venue after events, what to do with photos after a wedding, etc.
- Do you have a step by step process for how you handle event-day emergencies? I know you can’t account for everything, but common emergencies should have a process to follow.
- Do you have an “Event Day” social media plan and policy?
Congratulations! You made it to the end, I know auditing your business isn’t easy - it can feel like a tedious task at times.
But I promise, if you commit to this audit at least once per year (I recommend doing it quarterly) you’ll see positive changes in your business and you’ll feel in TOTAL CONTROL no matter what the day to day throws at you.
Happy Auditing, pros!