Jessica Brees

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Hey friend!

I'm Jessica: wife, mom, photographer, educator

I'm a creative girl boss, obsessed with wedding photography and videography. I have a degree in education and want to bring that into the creative industry by teaching other bosses how to make their dreams come true! When I'm not working, my days are filled with long walks down every aisle of Target while sipping my Pink Drink and listening to my newest playlist. It's the small things!

January 18, 2019

From Inquiry to Onboarding: How to Get Clients To the Booking Process



How to Get New Clients from From the Inquiry to the Contract

This post is written to directly help creatives in the wedding industry during the time of year when most brides are booking vendors, but it will help entrepreneurs in any field because the principles of booking new clients is the same. That being said, we aren’t aiming to book just any clients, right? We want those “ideal clients!” Those clients that we click with and get along with so well, that trust our creative vision and set our hearts on fire, and that don’t try to discount us down to working for free.

We all know that’s the goal, but we don’t know how to get there! So, when we analyze our process for on-boarding new clients, lets first look at how the consumer is feeling. They’ve probably typed something into Google like “local wedding photographer” or “wedding florist near me” and they are overwhelmed with options. From there they start clicking links and looking at portfolios that probably start to blend together and look the same. They lose track of their main focus and begin to get decision fatigue. If they are really committed, they probably hit send on ten different inquiry forms asking for pricing, because to them that’s the only difference between vendors. So, we know that they are already overwhelmed and unsure, and we are then asking them to sign the contract and give a non-refundable retainer. This can be a bit scary for them, especially with invoices that are upwards of three thousand dollars.

So how do we lead them past the plethora of options, into our inbox and push them from the first hello to being welcomed as a new client? We have to begin nurturing their experience way before they officially become clients.

new client booking process


before the inquiry

Now, it may seem strange for me to start your work before a client even sends you an inquiry, but I think it’s important to note how they even send it to you to begin with!

Your website needs to be a clear, concise, fun, polished conversion machine! That means when a new client lands on your website, they don’t have to dig around to find: who you are, what you do, your price range, and how to contact you. I don’t know about you all, but I am not the type of shopper that like to dig through piles. I struggle with consignment and second hand stores. I prefer to walk in to a store, see something on the mannequin and tell the clerk that’s what I want. If your ideal customer is anything like me, they don’t want to dig around a cluttered website, just like I don’t want to rummage around the clearance rack.

“Above the Fold” is a term that describes everything someone sees on your website before they even scroll. Think about making it incredibly clear to your audience who you are and what you do the instant they land on your site. Give them clear directions to your contact form, and also consider including direct contact information, just in case your contact form isn’t work *gasp*.

responding to the first inquiry

There’s that moment when you see a new inquiry in your inbox, and you get so excited that you just want to send them a million exclamation points and a hug gif right away! Okay, so that might only be me, but this first impression is very important.

Make sure you have your systems down solid for how to respond to new inquiries and funnel clients through the booking process. You do not need to be glued to your inbox 24/7, but you do need to respond in a timely fashion. (Thank you text messaging for giving everyone the expectation to receive a 14.5 second response rate.) Here are some tips for navigating the first response:

  • Keep your initial response brief, professional and to the point. If someone has reached out to you on social media messenger or via text message, let them know that email is the easiest form on contact for you and initiate the conversation there instead. Keep all new inquiries in one location.
  • Ask for additional information if needed. I personally need to know their wedding date and location to see if I am available and need time for travel.
  • Ask them to schedule an in-person or on the phone consultation. If you are selling a product or service that requires a long length of time and a large payment of money, make sure your client “meets” you. This is the best way to ensure you are both the right fit for one another and that the project will run smoothly.
  • Set the boundaries early. If you do not like clients messaging you at midnight, do not respond to their email at midnight. Even if you are excited to have received an inquiry, leave it in your inbox until your next appropriate business hours. That will let the client know that you have boundaries around your working hours.
  • Be personable. Many professionals in an industry produce the same work with the same tools (thank you Pinterest) and so clients will make buying decisions based on emotions. Show them who you really are as a professional and be friendly and fun. This does not mean your messages need to contain 18 thousand emojis, but you do need to focus on personable language. If you don’t speak with academic tone, don’t write your emails with academic tone.
  • Be upfront and honest. Let your leads know right away what your pricing is. I know this a popular debate, but I personally don’t see the point in spending hours of time getting to know a lead only to find out their budget is no where near your price range. Let them know right away how you work as a professional, what you charge, and what they can expect. Do not change yourself to match their needs, make sure they are a good fit for you as well.

calming their nerves

Booking can be a stressful step for new clients, especially with a price tag of $3,000. They have doubts and fears, and want to know that they are making a good decision that will benefit them.

As the service provider, you need to take the extra steps to make them feel comfortable and confident during the booking process. Make sure that you have the systems in place ahead of time so that you provide a seamless and organized experience.

As you get closer to having the lead sign the dotted line, you want to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. Verify your processes for all of the following to ensure your new customer does not have reason to doubt you right before closing the deal:

  • Use a verified contract. Do not make this up on your own. Invest both time and money into having your contract made by an attorney or purchasing one that has been verified by one. This is a legal document meant to protect both you and the new client when so much money is involved, so do not jeopardize your reputation by using phony contracts.
  • Use electronic systems. Do not make your client print, scan, and send contracts. They will not want to do this or they may not even be able to do this easily at home. Make sure all of your systems allow for both electronic signature and electronic payment. This may cost you an initial investment, but will prove to be valuable in the end.

add the perfect “final touch”

Now that you have met with your new client and had them sign the contract and make a deposit, it’s time to help them celebrate this large decision. Make them feel welcome and excited by sending them a welcome packet and a fun gift. I personally choose to send my clients a fun water bottle with “breezy bride” decal, a copy of my bridal guide magazine, a handwritten thank you note, and a notebook and pen that all match my branding.

Consider sending your new client a welcome gift so that they know without a doubt they made a great choice with you. Going to extra mile with touches like this will also help your word of mouth marketing, as clients will be singing your praises before you’ve even begun working!


If you’re ready to take on the next steps and onboard your new client, download the

free Client Onboarding Checklist.

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