Whether you’re earning five digits a year or seven, I’m a firm believer that every business has room for improvement. Technology is always changing and, with that, comes new and innovative solutions that can help entrepreneurs take their company to the next level in countless ways.
One common area for improvement is in the company’s overall workflow. I like to call this important aspect a ‘pipeline’ because it acts as a channel for everything from client management to asset management to flow seamlessly. I consider it the nucleus of your business operations as it has an impact on every aspect of both your successes and failures.
What’s in a pipeline?
A pipeline is essentially the sales and delivery process. It’s a direct representation of your client’s experience as it’s broken down into various stages, starting with an interested prospect. From there, it moves through the sales process where a prospect turns into a client. Then, once booked, the client is brought into the planning process all the way through to the execution. Each stage of the pipeline represents progress made with your customer throughout the entire service delivery process.
By breaking down your pipeline in easily identifiable yet critical stages, like prospecting, commitment, and planning, you’ll be more capable of identifying opportunities to enhance your three core competencies: workflow, client interactions, and any asset management required at each stage. These three factors play a role in every stage, so consider your pipeline as a roadmap that helps to optimize the entire process.
This knowledge often leads event professionals to the same question: What do I do now?
Well, the first step I recommend to building an effective pipeline that works for you is to start by documenting your processes. From prospecting to booking to execution, put everything on paper so you can review and assess the effectiveness of your system from a big-picture perspective. When it’s in your head, it can be easy to overlook certain obstacles and determine the best solutions for your problems. Writing it down can help you to organize your thoughts and gain new insight into your business operations.
Growing with your pipeline
Keep in mind that your pipeline is not a one-and-done process. Instead, it’s an evolving entity that should grow alongside your company. As you scale your business up, you will face new challenges and increased complexity, so your internal processes and operations will likely need to be adjusted to accommodate the growth. What may have worked with a base of five clients will need to adapt and change when you’ve grown to have upwards of 10, 20, and 50 clients. Likewise, things will be different when you have a staff of full-time employees as opposed to when you once held all of the responsibilities. Roles change and it’s your pipeline that will help keep things in order.
With all of this said, be cautious of how much you automate your processes, especially when using software. It’s wonderful when you use it to save time, but there’s a fine line between efficiency and inauthenticity. For example, templated email responses can be a blessing, but they can also be a curse when they don’t feel genuine. After all, we are in the hospitality industry where personalized service is essential, so don’t let automation overtake your process in a way that compromises that special personal touch.
Jake Anderson is the founder and host of EventureMind TV, a channel dedicated to providing event professionals with educational resources to develop their strategic role within a business. Anderson is also the principal of FêteTech, a business solutions company dedicated to advancing the digital world for the special events industry. He maintains a role as founding partner and strategic manager of his first company, Lighting Professors, a large-scale event lighting provider based in Central Virginia.