Planning Pod Blog

 

Fresh insights and best practices for event professionals

How Shaun Gray Events Uses Professional Wedding Planning Software to Streamline and Grow His Business

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Best Practices, Case Study, Event Management, Event Planning, Event Planning for Wedding Planners, Tools and Software

Most people have a romanticized idea of what life is like as a wedding planner, but the truth is: running a wedding planning business is hard. Professional wedding planners must juggle multiple clients, build and maintain vendor relationships, navigate rentals and decor, and stay on top of their long wedding checklists for each client. On top of all that, they still need to run a business, which means collecting payments, generating new leads, and keeping their calendar booked. 

Shaun Gray, the owner of Shaun Gray Events, understands the stress of running a wedding planning business. He has been helping Dallas-area clients plan the big day of their dreams for more than a decade and has been recognized for his work by big media outlets like The Knot and WeddingWire. He also runs a very successful TikTok channel, offering free wedding advice to subscribers from around the world preparing for their own wedding day. 

So, what’s his secret? Event planning software.

How Shaun uses professional wedding planning software to automate his business 

With the right professional wedding planning software, Shaun has been able to streamline his business processes. Planning Pod has helped him manage nearly every aspect of his wedding planning business, freeing up time to generate new clients, build his social following, expand his business across state lines, and still have time to invest in his personal life. 

With Planning Pod’s project management tools, Shaun is able to: 

  • Stay on top of wedding details with customizable timeline templates 
  • Easily send invoices and collect automated payments 
  • Automate client communication and feedback workflows
  • Creating collaborative vision boards
  • Effectively managing all of his contacts 

Problem: Managing the logistical details of each wedding 

There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to planning a wedding, which is why many couples decide to hire a professional event planner in the first place. According to Shaun, being able to manage all of the details and logistics of each of your client’s weddings is the differentiator between a good wedding planner and an unsuccessful one. 

“You can have amazing and creative ideas and be one of the most sought-after designers in the world, but essentially, your clients are hiring you to be a planner, which means you have to have logistics down, which means you have to have a timeline,” explains Shaun. 

Without the right tools, keeping track of every detail for each of your clients can quickly become overwhelming. Whether you’re planning just a handful of weddings or have a booked calendar, it’s crucial to have a good process and tools to keep you on schedule.

Solution: Staying organized with the event Timeline Builder 

The itinerary and event timeline builder feature in Planning Pod enables Shaun to create custom schedules for each of his events. Plus, he can easily share those details through the Planning Pod client portal or via PDF to keep himself, his team, vendors, and the wedding party in sync leading up to and during the wedding. 

“I would be dead in the water without the timeline builder,” says Shaun. “That’s one reason it’s been harder for me to give any other tool a chance. They just don’t have what I need from a timeline standpoint, and I run back to Planning Pod.”

With Planning Pod’s itinerary tool, you can:

  • Add dates and times
  • Attach files to line items, such as seating charts, floor plans, and catering orders
  • Assign tasks to yourself, staff, vendors, and the wedding couple
  • Set up automated email and text reminders for upcoming tasks 

You can also create templates for your to-do lists with the task management tool, and any due dates will automatically be created for each task based on the date of the wedding or event. This way, you don’t have to think through the timeline for every single wedding. Planning Pod does it for you.  

Problem: Keeping track of invoices and payments

One of the most important parts of running any business is getting paid. Yet, managing the finances and chasing down checks is usually a business owner’s least favorite thing to do. Some event planners rely on tedious spreadsheets and financial ledgers to determine which clients have paid and which haven’t. 

They also have to track incoming checks, cash deposits, and other payment forms, constantly going back in to update the status of each account. This kind of system is not only tedious and can add hours to your work week, but it also makes it easy to overlook any outstanding debts. 

Solution: Automating the billing and payments process with the Invoices tool 

Shaun uses the built-in invoice tool and electronic payment processing to quickly create, send, and collect invoices from his clients. All he has to do is attach an invoice template to an event and add, change, or remove any necessary line times before emailing it to his clients. His clients can then pay directly online or agree to automated payments for monthly retainers or installment plans. 

“The invoice creator is the next sort of ‘aha’ feature,” says Shaun. “It’s so easy to duplicate invoices and send them without having to think too much about it. It allowed me to move faster and be more present for the things my clients needed me to be present for. It also made going out and getting new clients easier, which helps to keep my business growing.”

Some other features of the Planning Pod Invoice tool include: 

  • Scheduling payment reminders and automated payments 
  • Easily running reports that alert you to any outstanding invoices 
  • Add, arrange, and attach images to an unlimited amount of line items 

As a growing social media influencer who is now generating new income from out-of-state wedding consulting, Shaun will also appreciate the ability to import billable time into his invoices. 

Problem: Collecting important client information during onboarding and throughout the planning process

As a wedding planner, there is a lot of information you have to collect from your clients throughout the planning process. From the lead management stage to closing out a client, you want to get to know them, find out what they’re looking for, and collect feedback from them throughout the process.

However, hopping on phone calls and setting up in-person meetings to discover this information can be extremely time-consuming. This is especially true for wedding planners like Shaun, who may not always have a wedding planning assistant on staff to help navigate those conversations. 

Solution: Streamlining client communication and feedback with the Forms Builder 

The forms builder enables Shaun to create and schedule as many forms and questionnaires as he needs to send his clients. For example, he may have one form automatically sent to prospective clients inquiring about his services from his wedding website. The form may include general questions like what they’re looking for, their preferred wedding date, and their wedding budget.

Then, once they sign a proposal, he may automate another form that asks more detailed questions and forms, such as inspiration for the wedding, guest lists, and other crucial details. Finally, he closes out his process by including an automated form requesting feedback and reviews of his services. 

The best part about this process is that he only has to create each form once.

“I love that I can go in once to create custom questions, save the form, and then re-plug it for all of my future clients,” says Shaun. 

He can even embed the forms into his CRM and timeline process, generating automated emails to prospects and clients with links to the forms without even thinking about it.

Problem: Helping your client create a cohesive vision

Shaun specializes in creating unique wedding themes that are personal to the couples he plans for. For example, he recently designed a disco-garden wedding for a pair of grooms who had met in the clubs and wanted to celebrate their original beginning as a couple with their new beginning as husbands.  

However, keeping clients focused on a single vision can sometimes be difficult. With so much inspiration floating around Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easy for couples to get carried away with decor ideas, color palettes, and cute little extras—even if they don’t always go with their original concept. 

“Pinterest is like a brain dump for couples planning their weddings and events,” says Shaun. “Sometimes I will have a couple with a summer wedding, and then I look at their Pinterest account, and they’ve pinned cranberry cocktails. So, at some point, they must have thought about a winter wedding, and I can’t make heads or tails of the inspiration I’m seeing.” 

Solution: Create a clear vision with a collaborative Vision Board 

Shaun keeps his clients focused by moving them away from Pinterest and onto a custom vision board in Planning Pod. Shaun can grant his clients access to the vision board so they can view and interact with the board on their own time, helping Shaun and the couple come to a single, clear vision for the wedding. 

“I use the vision board a lot in the client portal in Planning Pod,” says Shaun. “I can go from their 300 images on Pinterest and cut it down to the 15 we’re actually to use as inspiration for the wedding and upload them to the vision board with comments.”

With the vision board tool, Shaun can upload images from his desktop or cloud drive, adjust the size of each photo, and attach titles, descriptions, and comments. He can also create categories so he and his clients can toggle through specific parts of the wedding. For example, one category may highlight the food menu while another focuses on table decor—and the main vision board will still showcase all of it together.

The clients can then leave comments and mark their favorite images, making it a very collaborative process that eliminates confusion and a lot of back-and-forth communications. 

“I love the interaction you have with your clients on those pictures because I can be very specific and say, ‘I want you to look at the font in this one’ or point out how they’re using roses in this arch,” explains Shaun. “Then, you can quickly drill down on what the clients like and don’t like.”

If he wanted to, Shaun could even invite vendors, like the caterer, to collaborate directly on the food category of the vision board. Or, if he doesn’t want to provide access but wants to share the vision with a vendor, he can still send a link to the board for the vendor to view and draw inspiration from. 

Finally, like most of the tools in Planning Pod, Shaun can also create vision board templates with uploaded images that he can quickly add to new events. So, if he has a lot of couples looking for a very traditional Texas-style wedding or wants to jump on the latest wedding trends, he can create a single template that captures that style and upload it to all of the clients who are after the same look as a good starting point. 

Hint: You can create go-to floor plans and seating arrangements in Planning Pod’s templates as well.

Problem: Tracking and managing relationships with prospects, clients, vendors, venues, and more

Part of what makes Shaun so successful with his wedding planning business is his network—and part of what helps him build his network is relying on a great contact management tool. Keeping track of caterers, wedding venue owners, florists, clients, prospects, and even his TikTok followers who may reach out with questions can be difficult. 

Without a central place to store and manage all of his contact information, details of conversations would be forgotten, phone numbers would get lost, and recalling the name of the transportation vendor you met at a networking event a few months ago would be nearly impossible. 

Solution: Managing all business relationships from a centralized, comprehensive CRM tool 

Every wedding planner needs a little black book of trusted contacts. Every successful wedding planner will store that little black book on a comprehensive CRM tool. 

“When you’re starting out, you have to decide if this is going to be a hobby or if this is going to be a business,” says Shaun. “If it’s going to be a business, that means there is sales, bookkeeping, client relations, client management, seating arrangements and layouts, RSVPs, timelines, etc. As a business, you now have to be on top of all of that. So, you can have your two little Google Drives and break it into folders or whatever, or you can have professional wedding planning software, like Planning Pod, that covers everything for you.”

For Shaun, the way the CRM tool integrates with other features is probably his favorite part of Planning Pod. He uses it to not only store contacts but he can also: 

  • Store any notes he wants to remember about a contact
  • Add tags so he can quickly sort by things like “cater,” “TikTok follower,” “prospective client,” etc. 
  • Track real-time communication by integrating his email account and noting phone calls or other messages right from Planning Pod
  • Attach files and documents
  • Store invoicing and payment information
  • Grant and manage access to Planning Pod

“If you’re going to be a business, you need to have a business mindset,” says Shaun. “And there’s not one company that thrives that doesn’t have a CRM tool.”

Finding the best professional wedding planning software

From the extensive and continuously evolving features to the people behind the product who help him optimize Planning Pod to work for his business the way he needs it to, Shaun has happily relied on Planning Pod to help manage crucial parts of his business. 

Partnering with Planning has enabled him to focus on doing the things that bring the most value to his clients and himself, ultimately freeing his time and growing his reach. And his insight isn’t without comparison. With more than a decade in business, Shaun has dabbled in various software solutions for event planners but has always returned to Planning Pod as his professional wedding planning software. 

“I have been a customer of Planning Pod since 2011, but I am an entrepreneur, and so I have tried out other software solutions just to make sure I’m using the best wedding planning software out there for my business,” says Shaun. “And while there are some features and benefits that are comparable, many aren’t. Planning Pod is a CRM tool that covers all of the bases. It’s a partnership that I am so lucky to have, and I know because I’ve tried the other options.”

Aside from the functionality and user-friendly design of Planning Pod’s wedding planning tools, Shaun also appreciates how Planning Pod works with and listens to its clients to continue developing and improving its system to provide a better experience for its users. 

“There isn’t a longer business relationship I have in my career than my relationship with Planning Pod,” says Shaun. “I’ve seen firsthand how much of an emphasis the company puts on growing and changing and adding services to become the end game for event professionals.”

Grow your wedding planning business with Planning Pod 

If you’re ready to launch, streamline, or grow your wedding business, invest in a professional wedding planning software that will help you get there. Planning Pod is an all-in-one software solution built specifically for wedding and event planners, venue management, event catering, and more. Plus, with its cloud-based design, you can make real-time changes from your computer, tablet, iPhone, or Android, keeping you and your team up-to-date and on track. Get started with Planning Pod today and see for yourself why planners like Shaun continue to recommend it.