Time. We all have it, yet it seems it is something that is always in short supply.
As someone who creates things for a living, I always found some way to avoid doing the ‘business’ side of my business and stay in the creative side. I knew I needed to return emails. I knew I needed to follow up with clients and prospects. But something else always drew me away from those things.
And when I talked to other entertainers and creatives, I found I wasn’t alone.
But I knew those things needed to get done. I knew if I didn’t keep good records, I might let a balance due slip through the cracks. I might forget about that raving client at a party the year before and never get that repeat booking.
I have found 5 key things that I needed to watch in order to keep my business’ pipeline full. After all, it might seem busy now, but if I don’t keep the leads and clients coming, I’ll suffer that nasty “feast or famine” so many in our field experience.
Yes. In fact, I started off by just taking a single page of paper and printing out a short list of “to dos” for that client with a space for the date I completed each step. My first list was very simple. I had the date they initially called, a task to check off when I send out my booking kit (basically a recap of their event details, my rates, etc., and a contract), a box to mark when I received it back (signed), and a line for marking that I received a deposit (and how much they sent).
This allowed me to keep a folder with current bookings and potential bookings. I could open the folder and see at a glance who owed me money or who hadn’t sent back a contract At least once a week I would go through the folder to keep up to date with the progress of each booking.
This was an easy way to keep my from losing clients or forgetting who owed me money before an event.
So, originally, this was a DayRunner three ring binder. Over time, this turned in an Excel spreadsheet, then I went so far as to create my own custom rolled mySQL database.
But this can be as simple as marking down dates in your calendar to remind yourself to touch base with a client about their upcoming event. I would typically contact them a few days after sending out the contract to make sure they received my package and see if they had any questions. I would then call periodically until I received it back. They I would call early in the week before the event to reconfirm all the details of the event to make sure nothing had changed and to reassure the client that I was on top of things.
After all, less worry for the client means extra bonus points for you.
Finally, I would mark down to call or send a thank you the day after the event, and I’d mark down to contact them in 9-10 months to reach out to them to book for their event the following year.
This is simple. It’s not a big secret, but I will say that these little reminders can be the difference between a good year and a great year financially.
Why reinvent the wheel when you’ve done something before? I can imagine you are very much like me in that I find myself writing emails to clients that are almost identical. Things like “here’s my info about the event,” “here’s my rate,” “have you sent the deposit,” “thank you for sending the deposit,” “looking forward to entertaining at your event on Saturday,” “thank you for inviting me to your event last night.”
Yes, I’ve tweaked almost all of them. Change the dates. Change the total due based on the hours you are working. Change the name of the client. But these are those little changes. You’d waste so much time if you had to write each one from scratch for each client.
So use the “Save As…” feature and re-use the thoughts that you put into your previous emails.
In fact, you can even go one step further if you use a CMS which can automatically enter the client’s name, event details, and so forth. If you have something like this setup, you save a TON of time since all you really have to do is hit “Send!”
Every event is different. So take good notes while talking with the client and keep those notes somewhere that you can retrieve them while looking at the event details later. I kept notes about if an event was inside or outside, if there will be other entertainment, is there a dress code.
Imagine showing up in a khakis and a nice shirt only to realize when you arrive the client looks at you in amazement and reminds you they said it was a black tie event. Don’t forget those details. Keep good notes about the event.
You never know when traffic might be an issue, or security might be an issue (often the case at conferences) and you need to get ahold of the client quickly. Sure we have contacts in our smartphones, and this is a great place. I usually keep their contact info in the event in my calendar at the same time simply so I don’t have to go searching through my super large contact list searching for their name.
Over the years, I’ve found many awesome tips for making my business run smoother. Some worked well, some not so well. But these five thing seem to always be right at the core for my own way of doing things.
Hopefully you are already doing many of these. If not, they don’t require that much extra work to do them. But if you find a way to work these into your pipeline and workflow, you’ll find you will save yourself a lot of time, freeing yourself up to do more of the creative side of things.