As a business owner (and a perfectionist planner), I have tried a lot of client management systems. I ended on 17Hats for the first 2 years I worked with clients and it worked well enough. It allowed me to send documents, keep track of my contacts, and run my business.
When communicating with potential clients and trying to book someone for their project, I felt like the process was so email heavy. We would have to speak back and forth for a long time to establish what services I offered vs. what services they needed. Once we settled on a personalized project, then the paperwork step began. They’d receive up to 3 separate emails including a proposal, contract, and invoice.
Frustratingly, it was hard for me to keep track which documents were signed. First, I didn’t know if people opened the emails and viewed the documents. Also, I had 2 options to send the documents: send one at a time (which meant I had to keep creating and sending documents over the span of a couple of days) which put a lot of time between emails or send them all at once to save time but risk that they would feel overwhelmed.
Finally after feeling stressed for so long, I knew I needed a change when my booking rate was 50% at best. I was getting people interested but my process scared them away. I heard a lot about HoneyBook but it was always in the context of event-based businesses. My business friends in the wedding industry were gushing about how HoneyBook made their business easier to run and fun for their clients to book with them. When I signed up for the trial, at first I was not convinced that I could use HoneyBook for my weeks-long projects. But I stuck with it and I cannot imagine running my business without HoneyBook.
Today, I’ll be going over the features and benefits to using HoneyBook and how to utilize it for your own business.
When I signed up for HoneyBook in April, I was so glad to see the type of analytics they offer. Not only are they insightful, but extremely motivating. The monthly chart helps me to easily see my success rate and compare how many leads I had each month vs. booked projects. Leads are people that email you asking about your services. It’s helpful to see how many inquiries actually book. Since switching (as you can see above) my conversion rate has improved dramatically.
Projects is the quick and easy way to see how much you’ve made, how many projects you’ve booked, and how much money you can still expect from further payments. It can help you budget and start planning your taxes as well. I also love that HoneyBook helps you to see where your leads and bookings are coming from. If you have asked me which social media platform I needed to invest more time in, I quickly would have said Instagram. But so far, I have booked about half of my clients from Facebook! I was shocked but could easily see the minimal amount of time I spend there is worth its weight in gold. I am able to see changes when I start investing more time in other areas of my marketing.
The income analytics are so helpful around tax time and to compare monthly how much income you brought in and how many projects you booked. I’m a sucker for numbers and charts, so having so many ways right in the app to evaluate my business and how I’m doing is a blessing. I know the more months I use HoneyBook, the more helpful this data will become.
HoneyBook offers multiple documents that you can send to clients and I love their templates. I can create a full proposal in 10 minutes flat or send a brochure to an inquiry in just a few clicks. Spending that time to build my templates after signing up was time well spent. Also, if you sign up initially with a yearly subscription, their amazing concierges will walk you through setting up your account and they’ll even transfer your templates or documents from another program over to HoneyBook!
There are 6 types of templates you can have, each having their own benefits and uses.
I outlined every service I offer in these templates, so when I’m creating a brochure or proposal, I just choose the services that apply to that client and all of the benefits and inclusions for the package are there each and every time.
Contracts can be daunting to put together. Luckily, not only can you lay out each contract as a template, you can add customized sections (like package details, payment schedules, names, project dates, investment, etc.) so that when you create the agreement to send to the client, it autofills in the information for you.
From client homework to testimonial reviews, questionnaires are a great way to get a lot of information from your client and they are all accessible on the client dashboard for each project.
When you get an inquiry, do you email back and either send a canned response or type out all of their options each and every time? No more, friend! Brochures are a unique and professional way to send a list of everything you offer to a potential client. They’re able to select which services they want to talk about more, removing multiple emails back and forth trying to figure out how you can serve them.
Speaking of canned responses, email templates helps to get those docs sent quickly and correctly every time. You can connect an email to a certain type of document. That way when you send it out, you make sure every person gets all of the information they need and you don’t miss a detail.
Add an air of professionalism to your emails with a built in email signature. Perfect for linking social media and your website!
There are a ton of features in HoneyBook. I wanted to briefly mention some others that have been awesome for my business. The iOS app is awesome to get updates and see when you’ve been paid (it even cha-chings! Very satisfying) but it also keeps me on track. Connecting my calendar has made it easy to make sure I’m not overbooking a certain time so that I can focus on each client’s project.
Bookkeeping (which connects right to Quickbooks) is a quick way to see all the payments you’ve received. Creating reports (like income/expense) is simple and compliments the analytics tool. You can add a library of your branded images to use throughout your paperwork, giving them a professional look. Adding your logo and signature brand color helps to make everything you send on brand. They offer contact forms you can add right to your site so that when people inquire about working with you, they get an automated response and are automatically added as a lead on the app.
Workflows, tasks, and people/contacts also make HoneyBook a hub where you can find most of the information you need to run your business. Having it all in one place has helped me save hours of time.
Although you don’t need to be a subscriber of HoneyBook to join their community, it’s yet another reason I love this app. You can find in-search-of posts from people looking for your services and create collab opportunities. It’s a fun way to meet new people and offer your services where needed. And it’s tied right into the Rising Tide Society (they helped to create it!).
My absolute favorite features (because you’ve gotta save the best for last) are the pipeline and projects. You see the pipeline as soon as you login and let me tell you, it takes the overwhelming and makes it clean and simple. When I login, I can see all of my active leads and projects. I also know where each person is in the process at a glance. I love knowing how many people I’ve followed up with, have a proposal waiting to be taken care of, or are completing client homework. The clarity of knowing what is expected of me each day when I view my pipeline keeps my head in an organized place.
I personally organize my active projects by start to end dates. This allows me to see a timeline of clients and when I’ll be working on their project. You can also archive projects, whether you worked with the client or they didn’t book. If you lose out on a project, you can actually choose the reason when you archive their project. It makes it so easy to not only see if there is a disconnect in part of your onboarding process but if someone comes back, you know why you missed out on their business the first go around and can adjust accordingly.
Archiving also helps me to keep track of past clients and keep information about fellow designers that I work with for content creation and web design for their clients. I love that I can label projects depending on which services the potential client is interested in. Having all of this information at your fingertips keeps it out of your head when you don’t need it just yet. This is the perfect feature for designers juggling multiple clients at one time.
When focusing on one project, you enter the client dashboard. It’s so great to have all of your messages (whether emailed directly or sent via HoneyBook) in one place. And the great thing is, messages you send in HoneyBook appear in your sent mail folder. It’s a great way to use email and messaging but staying organized. You can also assign a workflow to the project or tasks for you and your client to complete.
Your dashboard can also have multiple members, making clients with more than one owner or collaborating with another creative a breeze.
That problem I always had with 17Hats is solved with HoneyBook. There is a tab in the client dashboard that holds all of your files in one place. You can also quickly see when someone has viewed or signed a document you’ve sent. I’ve found my clients feel confident during the project because they know where to locate everything, like the contract, and I can also go back to client homework quickly and easily.
My absolute favorite document to send is the proposal. This one document has been the single biggest change in my success rate. When you have already sent the brochure and know what the client needs, the proposal shows a breakdown of exactly what the client is investing in. They can then agree to the proposal and as soon as they do, their agreement is available to view without leaving the page. Once they sign the contract, their invoice instantly pops up so they can book with you without the headache.
Removing the barrier of more emails and more time when booking a client has streamlined my process. I’ve also received compliments from people I’ve booked on how enjoyable it was to submit their paperwork when normally it’s a hassle.
HoneyBook also helps me to stay on time because I know what projects are next and how long I have for each project when the client books. My business is more efficient and allows me to have more time off since making the switch.
The fact that all of these amazing features are present in just one app is a small business owner’s dream come true!
If you’ve fallen in love as much as I did when I signed up, I have fantastic news! You can now sign up for HoneyBook and receive 50% off your annual subscription! Sign up for your free trial here (you won’t be disappointed) and get 50% off your investment. It’s well worth it and I just know you’ll notice the difference in your process. Tell me in the comments: what app or system do you currently use for your business? Do you wish you could streamline your client onboarding?