5 Steps to Manage Wedding Clients with Gmail and Google Docs

This week we welcome guest blogger Matteo Cuzzola from Milan. Matteo travels all over Italy and Europe to photograph weddings, and developed a simple and efficient system for staying organized while on the road. He shares his system with PhotoMint, and I think you’ll enjoy the simplicity and ease of this wedding client organizational system. Here’s a bit more about Matteo:

If you like stories in pictures, travelling and food, we’re going to be good friends. I just know it. I am an enthusiastic photographer since childhood and I have the privilege of documenting the most important moments in people’s lives. My style is to capture the great moments and those are usually the images that the subjects didn’t even know I was shooting. To see Matteo’s work, visit his website: Matteo Cuzzola.

For weddings, I travel often and my office is always with me, in the Cloud. Let me show you how I do it.

Let’s take a look at how you can organize requests for quotes, email clients efficiently and accurately with Gmail in 5 steps. The most important Gmail feature we will be using is Labels, check out some tips here and here. Since 2005, Google has provided a simple and powerful interface for email and documents management. Five year ago, I decided to switch to Gmail Google Apps service with a clear aim to have all my office documents and CRM online.

First, I create three “father” labels for every year:

P12                   for prospects for 2012

W12-TODO     for clients (weddings) in 2012

-W12-DONE    for finished projects, 2012

The concept is to have one label per client and move it through these three father labels, from the first contact to the delivery of the package. Let’ s see the five steps:

Step 1:

When a prospect writes me for a quote I assign a label to the email called:

P12/mm-dd_surname  (So it will be nested to P12)

Note: mm is for month and dd for day. Note that using this format month-day will automatically sort the labels by ascending date.

For every request for a quote I create a label and I put it nested to the label P12/ in this way:

So I have the list of the requests for quotes per year, collapsible with a click.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

When I set an appointment with a client I create the event on Google Calendar and I save in the notes a link to the label of Gmail, so I can have access to all the history of the client/prospect with just a click from the Calendar.

Tip: search on Gmail “label:name_of_the_label” and you will get the link for the label in the address bar  🙂

Step 3:

When a prospect becomes a customer (yesss!) I change the prospect label in this way:

from:  P12/mm-dd-surname  to:  W12-TODO/mm-dd-surname

So it will automatically be nested under the label of weddings for the year 2012, which is called W12-TODO   in this way:

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, I have a group of labels for the prospects and a group for customers. Note that the labels are automatically ordered by date and this is very useful when I check at a glance which days for 2012 are already booked. I generally scan the contracts of the wedding services and send it to myself via email and assign it the right label. This way, I have all the information of the wedding in Gmail under one label.

Tip: the color green is for the customers that have paid the booking fee. If not yet paid, it would be red 🙂

Step 4:

After the wedding day I change the father label this way:  from:   W12-TODO/xx-xx-xxxxx   to:    -W12-DONE/xx-xx-xxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5:

Once the package is delivered, I change the color from green to grey. Finished!

Note: I use -W12-DONE with the (dash) because I want it on top of the list of labels, so it is separated from W12-TODO .

I know it sounds complicated but it allows me to create groups to be organized with a simple interface that can be accessed from anywhere with any device connected to the Internet. For this reason, I don’t use gmail-labs or browser add-ons that would not be replicated on mobile devices.

 

 

 

 

Data management on Google Docs

 To save all the details for the wedding day, I decided to use one spreadsheet per year (called “Weddings 2012”) with one single sheet per client. All the sheets are ordered by date of event and contain all the information I need that day:

A few days before the wedding I check all these information with the bride and the groom (note: a few days before, not weeks, as schedules can change!) On the day of the wedding I print this sheet in two copies, one for me and one for my assistant.

There is another important sheet in this file. It is called The Summary Grid similar to the image below:

This is a simple snapshot of the work in progress of all my scheduled weddings. The rows are all the steps of my workflow (but this is another story :-)  The columns are the dates of the events. I maintain this grid updated every day (OK not quite:-P) to always have the status of my work in progress available. This is an easy way to ensure I complete all the steps! You can’t imagine how beautiful it is to see all OK (green) cells at the end of the year!

This is my way of working, and I wanted to share this system in case it helps others. If you have any suggestions or just to tell me I’m crazy, write to me and I’ll take that as a compliment! 🙂

 

Want more organizational goodness? Here you go:

How to Name Image Files

8 Tips for Taming the Production Beast

Get More Bookings by Staying Organized


Facebook comments:

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Adizat July 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Matteo,

thank you for your wonderful post. While this post is meant for photographers it is actually useful for other businesses. At least I think so! I’m “borrowing” this idea as well. 1 quick question, what do you do with prospects that never book in the p folder?

Reply

Matteo Cuzzola August 6, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Hi Adizat,
thanks for writing !
At the end of the year I delete the labels of Prospects and I move all the e-mail to the father folder called P12.

Let me know if it is clear!
Cheers,
Matteo

Reply

Jim Warnock July 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Love the info found here.

Reply

jacob saldana July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm

wow this is good thanks

Reply

Ken @ ille Photography July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Big thank you to Lara and Matteo for sharing this! I’ve been a long time user of Gmail and Google Apps to host my business mail and I’ve been wanting to share a few of my own ideas and now seems like the perfect opportunity. There’s too much to share in this comment box so I’ll summarize a few ideas and maybe Laura can convince me to expand if there is a demand. 🙂

1. Use email aliases (or nicknames) to further legitimize your business and reduce inbox clutter! You might setup info@yourdomainname.com or billing@yourdomainname.com which could both point to your primary email account (ex. yourname@yourdomainname.com). This allows you to check one inbox and still have more vanity email addresses to legitimize your business and organize. I’ve also used these aliases to help me track sources. Have an advertisement with the Wedding Pages? Setup the email address on your ad to go to weddingpages@yourdomainname.com and you’ll more easily know when people got your info from your ad! Google allows you to setup 30 nicknames/aliases per primary user account.

2. Use Gmail filters in conjunction with your aliases to auto apply labels to incoming emails or make sure they avoid the spam filter. For instance you could automatically filter and apply labels to emails that are sent to weddingpages@yourdomainname.com into a label called “Wedding Pages Prospects.”

3. Unleash unlimited alias possibilities on the fly with one of the best kept secrets of Gmail, the + tag! Maybe you decide to make an alias of clients@yourdomainname.com that you want to use to correspond with booked clients. Make them feel extra special with a customized address of clients+theirweddingdate@yourdomainname.com and gmail will deliver it to your primary user account all the same! You could then use filters to make sure messages sent to that address are never treated as spam and get labeled with a client label. These are even faster than setting up a nickname because they are “setup” on the fly! Anything that’s written after the primary email alias or a nickname and after the “+” will still get delivered right into your inbox!

TIP: You can also often use the + tag for a disposable email address for vendor fairs or tours when you know you’ll receive lots of promotional emails after the event. For instance I might do ken+photomint@mydomainname.com when I sign up so I can track emails from Laura! 🙂

TIP 2: You can also send email from these aliases and +tags by registering it as a sending address!

Reply

Matteo Cuzzola July 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for sharing Ken,
good tips I will be happy to know more about it!

Matteo

Reply

Ken @ ille Photography July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Feel free to email or call and I can explain more for now. I think I’ve got something else planned for a guest blog topic first! 🙂

Ken

Reply

Matteo Cuzzola July 26, 2012 at 12:43 am

Can’t wait for your post Ken !

Reply

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