» How to Ensure You’re Referral-Worthy

Elizabeth Fogarty

If you were to ask us for one of our secret ‘ingredients’ to a successful business, we’d immediately think about the power of referrals. While you can’t depend on them as a stand-alone way to generate business, referrals are a fantastic way to secure new clients and better yet – they’re often paired with a positive review from whomever is recommending your business. So, how can you maximize your visibility and likelihood that others will refer you?

Make sure your offerings are up-to-date

Step one for guaranteeing your referral-worthy status is actually an easy one, and it starts with simply evaluating your services and online presence. Take the time to really sit down and ensure that your business is accessible to your ideal audience. Are your products and/or services appealing? Are they relevant?

To take it a step further, perform a full review of your website and digital presence and see how you’re being perceived online. This doesn’t necessarily mean going through and picking apart your Yelp reviews (although feedback is a great way to see what you may need to update), but rather making sure that you’re displaying any press or awards that may also elevate your status in the industry. Your portfolio will speak volumes, so keep your past work as a reference for potential clients.

Be consistent in your communications

Whether it’s a new client or a fellow professional, how you present yourself and the level of genuine communication you relay to them is key. You want to present yourself as a consistent business person and even more so, one that goes the extra mile.

Unfortunately for us in the wedding sphere, we don’t generate a lot of repeat business as most people will only have one wedding. However, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t put your best foot forward and stay in touch! Believe it or not, past clients are some of your best marketing assets, and you can ensure their experience with you is memorable by staying in touch. This can be as simple as sending a bottle of champagne and a card their way on their one-year wedding anniversary – a small but powerful gift. They’ll be more likely to recommend you to a friend or family member that’s also in the market to plan a wedding.

Strategize and be patient!

You never want to come off as pushy at any stage with a client or fellow creative partner. The ROI of a referral may not be instant, but when the new business does start rolling in, you’ll be grateful for the strategy and steps you took to get there.

We like to say that the best way to receive referrals is often to give referrals. Other creative partners that you notice are making a difference in the industry by providing exceptional service can also benefit, and they’ll take notice that you’re putting their name out there. The next time a client asks them for a recommendation, the chances they’ll give out your information are much higher.

Don’t overlook the benefits of a great referral. Putting a little bit of extra time in to update your website and give clients and partners alike a great experience will pave the way of an abundance of new business!

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and current international president for WIPA.

» Have You Evaluated Your Memberships For 2019?

When we think of tools that help us continue our education and grow as industry professionals, association memberships are one of the things that likely come to mind. The benefits of membership, whether local or on a national level, are endless. But when you factor in the travel to events, the finances you put into attending, and the time that you take away from your business to make it to the meetings, it’s important to analyze your memberships to make sure that the ROI is worth it in the long run.

How often you should evaluate your memberships?

It should be noted that nearly every membership has its benefits, but ultimately, your participation and how you reap the rewards is up to you. You should take time each year to take a hard look at each association you’re a part of. Are you getting the most out of your membership? Are you making it a priority? Have you noticed that your business is better because of it?

It’s also important to think about which associations make more sense to you. If you find that you’re benefiting more from a local association, it’s completely okay to start smaller and focus on building your connections from there. Don’t feel as if you have to commit to a national association if you’re not gaining as much from it.

Know what’s working and what’s not

There are plenty of ways to take advantage of your membership, even if you feel you may have been letting it fall to the wayside. Think about why you first decided to join. Was it to establish more industry connections? Did you want to further your education with fresh ideas from other experts? Whatever the case may be, you can always turn it around and tackle your position as a member with those initial goals in mind.

If you’re not seeing the results you want, try approaching it from a different angle. Make more of an effort to connect with other members by following up with them, congratulating them on recent achievements, or just showing a genuine interest in their work. Take advantage of attending your association’s webinars or seeing guest speakers.

How to be more involved

Our industry makes it extremely easy to be passive when it comes to things that aren’t in line with our immediate business. If it’s not at the top of your mind or on your calendar, it’s inevitable that they’ll slip away.

Personally, I live and die by my calendar. If it’s not marked in my schedule, it just won’t get done. Mark each event ahead of time and block off part of your day to devote to attending. And this can be a hard one, but learn to say ‘yes’! When other members are meeting for dinner or meeting up at a conference, it could be in your best interests to put in some valued facetime and strengthen those relationships. You never know who will refer more business to you, or who will become your next go-to friend in the industry.

An association membership can be one of the best things you ever do for yourself as a professional, and evaluating your place as a member can help you maximize the benefits and ensure that you’re reaping what you sow!


Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and current international president for WIPA.

» Top Tech Solutions to Elevate Client Communication

Communication today would hardly be recognizable to someone living 15 – 20 years ago. Beyond simply being free from the landline, they would be surprised to know that phones are rarely used for spoken conversations anymore. In fact, there is a whole new etiquette surrounding whether or not it is even appropriate to call rather than message someone – a complicated set of rules that rivals the best of Emily Post.

Fortunately, there are numerous apps to streamline communication and keep you connected. They have recently begun to reshape the client experience while elevating ease of communication. These apps help you meet the needs of your couples and are so easy to use that they can be added to your bag of tricks in mere moments!

Apps that aid communication

One of the most popular apps for client communication today is WhatsApp. A free messaging system that allows users to exchange texts, photos, audio messages, and videos easily, WhatsApp has become invaluable, especially to users who prefer to connect via Wi-Fi than use their cellular data. Couples planning from afar, and those who travel regularly are particularly grateful for web-based messaging.

Meeting virtually

Videoconferencing has become a common way to meet with clients who are too busy or too far to gather in person. Among its many bells and whistles, Zoom makes it easy to meet virtually with one or more parties, perfect for planning meetings or design consultations.

It can be helpful, when meeting virtually, to have apps on board like Adobe Document Cloud E-Sign Services for electronic signatures on contracts and Dropbox or Google Docs for sharing large files and collaboratively maintaining documents stored in the Cloud.

Social media for maintaining client relationships

There are many reasons that a professional may need to connect with clients beyond file management. When your primary purpose is to stay in touch to maintain the relationship after the wedding, social media apps can be very useful.

Follow your couples’ handles and interact with them. Like their photos, include an occasional personal comment and reach out to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Track major post-wedding life changes like babies and moves to new homes. Use Instagram or Facebook to track these dates so you can send gifts and notes when they happen. Your goal is to be top of mind next time one of their friends or family members becomes engaged and needs services like yours.

Use your social media channels to keep your clients in the loop about your company and offerings, as well. Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to schedule posts in advance, distribute them across multiple platforms, and track their success. Similarly, Planoly can be used to schedule Instagram posts, specifically, in advance. Regular engagement will keep you relevant to all of your clients and connected when you are needed next.

The face of modern communication may have changed, but at the heart of it, the purpose remains the same: client connection. Whatever you add to your toolbox, make sure it helps you achieve the level of service to which you are committed for your most important audience: your clients.


Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» Relationship Building Goals for the New Year

Brandi Potter Photography

It’s that time of the year where resolutions are no longer just distant ideas — now it’s time to put them in motion! Just as client relationships and experiences are supremely important to your business’s success, creative partners also play a large part. Increasing engagement with your fellow industry pros is the perfect way to shine a spotlight on your devotion to growth in 2019.

Strengthen relationships

This might be a no-brainer (and we’re all guilty of occasionally getting too wrapped up in our work to check in with those closest to us!), but it really is a crucial pillar in maintaining those creative partner ties.

Don’t stress yourself out about extending a grand gesture! The smallest details can really mean the most, in this case. Keep up with their recent accolades and send them a congratulatory email, or plan a get-together the next time you attend the same conference. Celebrating anniversaries and birthdays means just as much. Being present in their lives and setting a goal to be more communicative is always a step in the right direction, and they’ll start noticing.

Ask for feedback

Being vulnerable and opening yourself up to criticism is difficult, but I’ve found that it’s incredibly useful to know what your strengths and weaknesses are if you’re serious about excelling in both business and relationships. Client feedback is wonderful, but asking for the opinion of your creative peers may be most helpful when it’s coming from an insider’s point of view.

Asking for feedback not only shows that you’re interested in evolving as a wedding professional, but it shows that you care about how you’re viewed in the industry. Back when I was new to the wedding world, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to networking events. I met one of the top caterers in town and asked for honest advice, and she was quick to audit a few things that I wasn’t even aware of — right down to the baseball cap I shouldn’t have been wearing to networking events! After that, I really took her advice to heart and we became close partners in the business.

Increase your participation and maximize attendance

If you’ve been lacking a bit in industry event attendance, this is your opportunity to make up for lost time. Networking and educational events are your key to success in the new year, even when your schedule seems jam-packed. It can be hard to break away from the day-to-day, but participating in these events will benefit you in the long run as a way to connect with creative partners and lend your expertise.

Scope out associations you can join, submit yourself to speak at conferences, and print off some new business cards to hand out when you attend. You never know who will be the next big connection, or who could be a mutually beneficial referral to clients.

Our industry peers keep us in business and they keep us grounded. You want to be remembered as the professional that supports others and goes the extra mile, in whatever capacity that means for you. Putting in a little extra effort into the simplest tasks or exchanges will leave a lasting imprint!

 

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» How to Foster Relationships After Conferences

While conferences can be a fun experience (and another pin on your traveling map), they also provide education and networking opportunities for everyone involved. That being said, no matter if you’re new to the industry or if you’re nearing a decade (or more!) in well-seasoned knowledge, there’s something valuable for anyone that attends. On the same note, making new connections and professional relationships is part of the excitement of attending a conference, especially when it comes to potential clients or mutually beneficial creative partner contacts. So how can you ensure that these new relationships stay strong after they’re developed?

Strategy is key

Exchanging contact information is only the first step, and follow-up after the fact is also great. But think about the ways that you can be relevant to them without actually being face-to-face. If you have a blog or active social media for your company, consider cultivating that new relationship with some content to cross-promote to each other’s audiences. Both of you will benefit, plus you’ll leave an invaluable impression that you’re a loyal connection to have.

Generosity is something we always advocate for, whether that means a referral or an effort to ‘surprise and delight’ your creative partner. Handwritten thank-you notes go so far, trust us! The old saying about what you put out into the world will inevitably come back around is so true. Putting out those referrals means that you’ll likely see them in return, and you’ll want to make sure you credit the person that scored you that new client.

Be prompt

It’s really that simple. Even if the communication between the two of you isn’t necessarily time-sensitive, it’s still a nice gesture to respond to emails or other correspondence in a timely manner. Prioritizing the small things really do mean a lot in the long run. Our rule of thumb is generally responding within 24 hours of receipt.

To take it a step further, if you’re traveling in the area where your creative partner is located, make an effort to put in the face-to-face contact, even if it’s just grabbing some coffee. This lets them know that you care about continuing the relationship and want to check in on their successes.

There are plenty of ways to foster those long-lasting relationships after conferences, but keep in mind that it’s important that it comes across as organic and genuine. Be yourself, be consistent, and get creative – that is all you need to do!

 

 

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.

 

» Creating an Efficient, Sustainable Work Culture

When your work culture is efficient and sustainable, your industry peers, clients and prospects tend to see you differently. It is inviting to top talent and intriguing to those who want to know the secret of your success – attention for all the right reasons. A strong, efficient work culture paired with a desirable and quality product or services is a recipe for great achievement.

What should your culture include?

Begin by examining your values. How do you want others to perceive your business? What sets you apart from your competition? When someone sees your logo or hears your business name, what is the first thing you hope comes to mind?

Choose an atmosphere that both reflects where you and your employees want to work, and the kind of business your prospective clients want to work with. Are you the formal, business-like entity that values strict deadlines or are you more playful and laidback? While you are free to define your work culture any way you want, there is a consequence of becoming discordant with your base clientele. Consider their needs and perceptions before you adopt anything too wildly out of character.

Culture sustainability

Creating a work culture is not a one-off event. You need to nurture your employees, hear their input and resolve their concerns. At Fantasy Sound, we hold an annual retreat to get out of the office, brush off the cobwebs and bring in fresh air and perspective. During these retreats, we hold honest conversations about what is working and what needs improvement. Everyone’s voice is heard.

Throughout the year, we also check in with our team to confirm we are staying on track. The effort to sustain a great work culture is worth the outcome for the business and staff alike.

Efficiency promotes satisfaction

You can have the coolest company culture around, but failure to provide efficient, reliable services will kill even the hippest businesses fast. Take steps to make your company culture is one that prizes productivity and efficiency.

Manage time wisely. We employ time mapping across all of Fantasy Sound, making firm appointments with ourselves to ensure that everything we need to do gets done, and done well. This ensures a high-quality customer experience and great reviews, which in turn feeds employee spirit.

We also seek out technology that resolves issues that would otherwise become pain points. The keys to successfully employing technology to boost productivity are to carefully weigh your options, choose the best products for your needs, and to provide training and support for your staff to make adoption go smoothly.

Managing time and using technology contribute to our ability to serve our internal and external clients and maintain a productive work environment. An efficient team is a happy team.

It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that atmosphere and employee engagement has on the success of a business. The key to achieving this level of employee satisfaction and performance is creating an efficient and sustainable work culture.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» Off-Season Tips for Solidifying Vendor Relationships

Photo by Anchor & Pine Collective

We’ll never stop saying it – your success in the events industry is grounded in the relationships you form and maintain. This is a people-centric business so developing ties to like-minded professionals is a critical pillar in the foundation of every strong event company.

During the busy season, the efforts that are necessary to finesse relationships are limited by your time and energy. However, the off-season provides not only opportunities to meet new people, but also an opportunity to circle back to those you’ve wanted to get to know better and find new ways to leverage your strongest ties; it is also the perfect time of year to put into place systems that will make it look like you’re the king or queen of networking the rest of the year!

Here are just a few ways you can solidify your vendor relationships during your off-season.

Maximize your attendance and participation in associations
It’s hard to participate and be present during peak season, because you simply can’t be in two (or three, or five) places at once. So during your next lull, double-down on your commitment to attending all available networking and educational events.

Look for opportunities to attend meetings, deliver professional development as a speaker to your peers, and contribute your time, product and services whenever the opportunity arises to the organizations you support with your membership. Make a big impression now to stay on your colleagues’ radar when you can’t actually attend.

The off-season is also a great time to vet new associations or positively respond to invitations to be a guest or guest speaker at new groups. You may or may not ultimately join, but your willingness to support other professionals will someday be returned in kind.

Be strategic
Think about the ways that you can be relevant to others when you can’t actually be face-to-face with them. Do you have a blog or active social media platforms? During the off-season, work with your colleagues to exchange content and pre-schedule posts that offer valuable information to each other’s audiences. You’ll each benefit from fresh and useful entries on your feeds, and will demonstrate to others how much faith you have in your business relationship.

I always advocate for generosity, believing that paying it forward is one of our strongest business-building policies. The off-season is a great time to look for creative ways to share referrals and help nudge the professionals you trust towards their own new successes. It’s also the right time to thank those businesses that have referred you during the year for their generosity. Send handwritten thank you notes, fun tokens of appreciation, and drop in for personal visits and expressions of gratitude.

Use technology to plan for the next busy season
There are apps for everything, and we strongly believe in using them to work smarter. A good to-do list or calendar app can help you create reminders of important dates like colleague birthdays, anniversaries or business milestones. Use a drop-ship service during the off-season to pre-schedule little tokens and gifts to arrive with personal notes of appreciation. In our fast-paced industry, thoughtfulness stands out more than any ad campaign or promotion.

Whether you’re at the top of your game, or just starting out, nothing is more integral to the success of your events business than your connections. Use the gift of the slow season to find new and innovative ways to extend your network and solidify your highly valuable vendor relationships.


Kevin Dennis is the editor of
WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

 

» How to Balance Work Personalities

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ

Maintaining a positive workplace is a key to success. After all, a business runs best when employees are engaged and focused on work instead of office politics.

A comfortable work environment starts at the hiring process — qualifying candidates based on your company’s core values will ensure that your employees will form a solid team. I look for someone who is energetic, confident, eager to learn, and interested in our company. In our situation, experience isn’t necessary as we are happy to train on site, but a keen interest and knowledge of our company shows passion to be a part of our team. At the end of the day, that speaks more than job experience.

Cultivating a positive work culture starts at the top — it’s up to a business owner to create an environment where work gets done and employees feel comfortable communicating with one another. At Fantasy Sound, we have daily “Sound Off” meetings that allow us to discuss our service standards for the day and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Employees feel engaged and empowered when they feel that their voices are heard, so listen up. It only takes 15 minutes of the day, but it keeps morale high and sets our company up to continue providing excellent service.

We also have weekly department meetings that help to keep us operating efficiently. Not only do these meetings hold everyone accountable, but I’ve noticed a rise in our team productivity as well since hot issues can be addressed all at once.

In addition to open communication, every business owner wants to instill a culture where employees look forward to going to work. How do you do that, you ask? Simple: plan fun teambuilding activities to get rid of the proverbial cobwebs. For example, we host birthday lunches for every employee which is always a nice time to look forward to. We’ve also recently started an ongoing Mario Kart tournament within the office for a taste of healthy and fun competition.

Even still, internal conflict is inevitable in any office and it’s up to business owners to navigate these waters with caution. I personally try to address conflicts as they happen, as opposed to seeing if they can work out on their own. Waiting too long can cause a minor disagreement to fester into something larger, which can be detrimental to your overall work culture.

With that said, I do recommend waiting a bit if the conflict is particularly emotional. Address it once the emotions pass and everyone involved can approach it with a cool head. Letting emotions mix into the discussion can cause the problem to get even worse. Sit down with each party individually before setting a time for a group meeting. That way, you can go into the discussion with the full picture and offer ideas for solutions. When counseling employees, avoid taking sides by sticking to your company values. Appeal to their commitment to the company and work together to find a solution that keeps everyone happy. Chances are that if you hired the right people from the get-go, any internal conflicts can be overcome with open and honest communication.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» How to Hire the Right People for Your Team

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Assembling the right team is essential to the success of a company, especially one that is growing and evolving in a field as service-oriented as the wedding industry. The wrong employee will set you back in terms of time, resources and more than a little sanity. Before you hire someone new, prepare yourself for the task and avoid mistakes before they cost you any of the above.

The posting

Even if you have hired for the position before, it never hurts to revisit your job description. You want your new hire to fit into your overall brand, so be meticulous with how you advertise yourself as an employer.

Revisit the little details – do all of the job responsibilities still make sense? Are there things from your plate you’d like to move over to the new employee? Is your compensation in line with area standards and is it competitive? Consider connecting with your team and soliciting their thoughts on the qualities and skills needed.

Promoting your job opening

When it is time to promote your open position, start with your blog, social media and newsletter. Reach out to trusted colleagues and ask them to keep an ear open for highly qualified candidates looking to change positions. Your best matches often come to you as warm leads.

Great employer seeks perfect candidate

Once you begin interviewing, know the signs of a great match. Look for somebody who is fun, energetic, personable and willing to learn. Your clients want to connect with someone who has a positive attitude and who upholds your corporate culture.

On the flip side, be aware of red flags. Showing up late for an interview, not following instructions included in a job listing, not being properly dressed for the interview, and not knowing anything about the company or the position they are applying for are all signs that a candidate is less than ideal.

The double-edged sword of previous experience

While past experience can be desirable, it also can mean that a candidate has developed bad habits, or is unwilling to adapt. Be open to looking beyond experience. Focus on potential.

Questions to ask

Your questions can encompass basic information like “What do you know about our company?” and “How do you define good customer service?” Don’t be afraid to get (professionally) creative, though. We like to ask something like, “If you were going to be working on a movie, what part would you want to play: actor, producer or director?’ to get a feel for applicants’ motivations and personalities.

Involve the team

Consider a trial run for a set period of time to allow you to determine if your new hire is compatible with your current team. You’re about to spend a lot of time with him or her, so it’s worth the extra effort for all involved to make sure you have found a good fit.

Few business decisions are as critical as hiring the right talent. Invest your time and effort in the process. You will not be sorry.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» How to Run Your Business While You’re Away

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Travel, whether for business or pleasure, can take you away from the office. As a business owner, handling your absence well can easily make or break your company. So, how can you stay on top of the many facets of business management when you’re away?

Use apps

Productivity apps let you take your office on the road, and are designed to help you manage business affairs from afar. They allow you to easily delegate tasks to your team, and monitor their completion so you always know the status of your accounts and events.

Stay accessible

When I am away, I always let my staff know that they can reach me any time and that they should never hesitate to contact me with a question. We use texting and iMessages for immediate needs because they can be used during a meeting, even if wi-fi isn’t available. We save calls for emergencies only – if I see a call come through while I’m in a meeting, I know I need to excuse myself and take it because phone calls are our code for an emergency situation.

Keep up with email

It’s also important to stay on top of your emails. If you don’t set aside some time each day to address and prioritize your email, you’ll never catch up when you get back to the office. Set aside 30 – 40 minutes per day to sort through new emails and to delegate any necessary tasks that result. If you are traveling somewhere that doesn’t have reliable wi-fi, you should schedule this at times you know with certainty that you’ll have internet access.

Debrief

Another key to successful management from a distance is to meet with your staff when you return from a trip to review what happened while you were gone and get everyone on the same page again.

Manage your time wisely

Travel involves a lot of time challenges that can create unique situations. One is a matter of time zones – when possible, you should try to continue working in the same time zone as your home office so you can remain aligned with your team. This will make it easier for them to get in touch with you, and will provide a consistent experience for your clients.

The other is having time for yourself. You must learn when to say yes and when to say no. Days are long when you’re traveling and trying to operate your business. Know your limits and schedule things like interviews and networking events wisely. Make sure that every activity has potential for payoff. The time you spend doing anything needs to be worth the time you are sacrificing that would normally go towards managing your business affairs.

Travel can be both life and business-enriching, and it doesn’t have to stop you from doing a great job managing your event company. Use these tips to help streamline your efforts and you will ensure that your even in your absences, your business will stay strong!

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» Best Apps to Reduce Stress During Busy Season

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

A career in the wedding industry has to be one of the most rewarding and simultaneously most stressful jobs around. While rarely (at least not on a good day) do wedding professionals have to save lives or put theirs in peril, they are responsible for a very important day that doesn’t come with any do-overs. Top that off with intense event logistics and the need to make it all look effortless, and you have a solid recipe for stress.

Finding ways to alleviate that stress yet still deliver incredible weddings should be a top priority to any wedding professional. One way to curb the nail-biting moments is to incorporate technology into your workday that takes some of the burden off of you.

Here are some of our favorite apps for streamlining your work:

Zipwhip for Client Comms

We use Zipwhip for all of our client texting. The beauty of this program is that you can have personalized conversations with customers through one number on your computer. You can skip the hassle of sharing personal mobile numbers and still be just as available.

Canva for Content Creation

Nothing beats the expertise of a professional designer but when you’re in a pinch, Canva is a great, free design program that allows you to create branded content for your wedding business. They have thousands of templates for nearly every need you can imagine- from Facebook covers and Instagram-friendly graphics to presentation slides.

Schedugram for Social Media

One of the best things about Facebook has been the ability to pre-schedule your posts. Unfortunately, Instagram has not had the same option but now there are third party apps like Schedugram that allow you to do just that. Schedule your posts as well as the first comment (aka #hashtagcity).

Zoom for Client Meetings

Zoom is a great high-quality option for video streaming, ideal for client meetings and group conference calls. If you use Google Calendar, you can add a Chrome extension that allows you to create a new Zoom meeting within the calendar entry. Those who offer webinars will find that it doubles as great educational software.

Dropbox for File Management

Sharing files can sometimes be a challenge if they are large and take a long time to download. Dropbox is cloud storage that allows you to upload files like documents or images from your phone, device or computer to folders that you can then easily share with your team or send to a client.

Basecamp for Projects

Project management involves a lot of moving parts, but you don’t have to get buried by the details when you use Basecamp. Quickly and easily assign tasks, monitor projects, track down overdue items and know in a glance what the status of even your most complicated endeavor is.

These are my go-to apps and programs to help relieve stress and I hope they can alleviate some for you too!

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» 4 Steps to Manage Your Time More Effectively

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Time is one of the most valuable assets any business can possibly have – time to build infrastructure, attract new clients, serve current clients and stay in touch with past clients. Time is a limited resource, however, and way too often we waste it when we could be maximizing it and experiencing growth.

Understanding the impact that wasting time and properly managing it can have on your business is critical to your success. Achieving maximum success requires maximum time efficiency. So how do you manage it?

Make a to-do list

We might think we’re the ultimate multitaskers, but our brains can really only focus on one thing at a time. Making a to-do list allows you to prioritize tasks that need to be done and keep track of how much you’ve accomplished and how much is left. It is a simple way to make your use of time more efficient. If you don’t like paper lists, try going high-tech and keeping yours on your phone or tablet.

Recognize common time traps

In order to fix a problem, you need to clearly define what the problem is, right? Time issues tend to sneak up on people because we think we’re working hard. Email is a prime example. Checking it all day and at home simply diverts you from doing actual work. Busy is not the same thing as productive. What other functions take too long and drain the life from your business?

Eliminate email waste

First, leave your email for the office. Use your time at home to take care of yourself, your health, your family and those non-work affairs that need addressing so you can be your best self at work. Turn off your notifications so incoming mail does not interrupt your workflow. Set aside 15-minute periods to address what needs to be done in your inbox, generally not more than three times each day, unless your email volume requires additional time. Maximize the efficiency of your email management by setting reminders to act on waiting emails, using templates for responses to frequently asked questions and inquiries and using software or an app that allows you to schedule emails in advance.

Use apps to help manage time

Instead of trying to keep up on your own, leverage technology and research and select apps that take over the functions you’re currently trying to manage by hand. There are social media apps that you can use to pre-schedule content and monitor your presence. Financial apps that can help with payroll, accept payments from your customers and assist in preparing your taxes each year. Event software apps take all of the work out of seating arrangements for your clients and creating all important timelines. You can win back so much time you are currently wasting in your business by simply identifying helpful apps.

Good time management essentially boils down to identifying areas of weakness and addressing them with best practices and great technology. You can take your wedding business to a whole new level by taking control of your time management. Don’t wait – start today!

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and National Vice President for WIPA.