There’s always a lot of hype surrounding the onboarding process and how to welcome new clients into your brand experience effectively. It's with good reason, since the way you start a working relationship directly impacts how the client experience will play out throughout the planning process.
Yet, there is not as much attention given to offboarding, even though how you leave them is just as important as how you bring them on.
Typically, offboarding falls off the bottom of our to-do lists because we find ourselves spent and exhausted by the end of a client's event. We've invested so much energy into producing their dream celebration, and there's no denying the emotional and physical toll it takes on us. Even still, there's a tendency to stay busy and quickly shift our attention to the next event on our calendar. When you reach the end of the client journey—even with those we love—it's common to feel ready to move forward with whatever comes next.
Unfortunately, this mindset ends up negating the client's experience. Sure, we may always have another event around the corner to occupy our minds, but our clients are celebrating their only wedding. They want to feel special and important, even after the rings are exchanged and the guests have headed home.
We spend so much time cultivating relationships with couples during the planning process. It's shocking and uncomfortable if you leave them high and dry. Instead of remembering how much they love you or thinking about how easy you made everything, they're feeling ghosted and left to process the aftermath of their wedding alone.
That’s where offboarding comes in. Just as you have an onboarding process, you should have a step-by-step procedure for transitioning clients out of the journey you’ve taken together. Here are some useful touchpoints that will effectively help phase clients off the planning process while continuing to demonstrate your respect and care for their needs.
As with every stage of the client experience, a great offboarding procedure is built upon empathy. Put yourself in your clients' shoes and ask yourself what you would expect when closing out an agreement. Naturally, as a wedding professional, you want to get feedback from them as soon as possible. After all, reviews are what help you market your business and identify room for improvement.
However, from your client's perspective, how can you make the process simple and efficient? For example, the days immediately following a wedding are filled with emotions, and couples are often left processing all that happened. Many are also heading off for their honeymoons, so asking for a review directly after a wedding can be off-putting and stressful. Offboarding should be a graceful transition that doesn't place added pressure on clients while they're still adapting to post-wedding life.
Send over pertinent information.
The morning after the wedding, send the couple a quick email that outlines any necessary details or anything you discussed from the night before. In the whirlwind of festivities, they may not have remembered or retained some of the important information. If a parent took home all the gifts, let them know. Tell them where their marriage license is if they didn’t take it with them. Provide all of the must-know info, then wish them a happy honeymoon and leave it at that.
Reach out to the event team.
While you let the couple settle into their newlywed bliss, use that time to email all vendors to send a little note of thanks. Showing gratitude goes a long way in building relationships, plus it can bring a much-needed smile to someone's face. Working in the wedding and event industry is hard work and we all get stressed out from time to time; if you can lift someone's spirits with a simple email to thank them for a job well done, do it!
Keep this step efficient by creating a template in your email platform or in Honeybook; recreating the wheel each time can be demotivating. Having a few canned responses on hand can make it as simple as typing in all of the vendors' email addresses and hitting send. Of course, if a vendor didn't measure up to expectations, they shouldn't be included in this email; instead, send a separate email that addresses any issues during the event.
Check in after some time.
After your couples have settled down from the excitement and return to their everyday lives, they'll be happy to hear from you about their celebration. Take advantage of your CRM like Honeybook to keep communication streamlined. I use a CRM platform that allows my clients to log their guest list and keep track of gifts and 'thank you' cards, and I give them a 30-day window after their wedding to access it. Then, one month after their wedding, I send over all of their saved information and offer another 30 days if needed.
It provides an organic touchpoint to check in and see how they're doing, along with a gentle nudge about leaving vendor reviews. The key to earning reviews is to make it as simple as possible. Include the links directly in your email, so it's easy for them to click, write, and review. Not everyone will bite; some people just don't like to write reviews, and that's their prerogative. You can urge them softly, but you don't want to wrap up the client's experience by being pushy.
Build-in future touchpoints.
A big piece of successful offboarding is playing the long game — even beyond the working part of your relationship. Your past clients, particularly the recent ones, are in the best position to send referral business your way, so letting the relationship fizzle out and fall flat could be costing you new clients. It doesn't take much effort, but it does take intention and thoughtfulness.
Every year, I send holiday cards to clients for the year as well as those that I've stayed close with over the years. I also post anniversary posts on Facebook and Instagram for one-year celebrations. These are relatively easy and low-cost ways to nurture past client relationships, which can end up bringing in more value for your business down the line.
Ultimately, offboarding is just as vital a process as onboarding. If you are a business owner that has struggled to earn referrals, it's a good sign that you need to look at your offboarding procedure (or lack of one). Do your clients feel like they've been left out to sea? Consider your own experience as a consumer or client: how would you feel if your web designer, your copywriter, or your strategist dropped off your deliverables and disappeared? The closure is such a valuable piece of a positive offboarding experience, so always be sure you are leaving your clients better off than when they first walked through your door.