I met with Oz Alon, the charismatic co-founder of HoneyBook, by Google Hangout on the fourth anniversary of his business. He is ambitious, driven, and absolutely passionate about empowering creative entrepreneurs with a magical experience through the payment and communications process, so that it can be passed on to their clients.
Here are a few of the insights he’s gleaned along the way, as shared in our interview.
Biggest Mistake of Wedding Pros: Misunderstanding the Power of Payments
There’s a huge misconception about accepting credit card payments.
Wedding professionals are worried about 3% credit card fees. They say, “When I offer a client the option to pay me $100 by check or $103 by credit card, they pick the $100. It proves that my clients prefer paying by check.”
Of course, they prefer check when you ask the question this way! The reality of the data tells a different story.
Even if you ONLY accept credit cards, you make more money. You’ll be able to raise your prices 10% without even noticing because the customer finds it easier to accept a price when it’s paid by credit card.
Over time, proven by data, accepting credit cards will make you much more money.
Today’s couples are accustomed to paying with a credit card, and they can afford to pay higher prices when they can charge it.
The best way to charge customers today is to split the payments on a monthly basis. You can divide payments and send reminders to collect with HoneyBook at however many payments you choose.
This is great for the consumer because they can pay for your services in small chunks. It’s great for your business because it’s really good for cash flow.
In the past, businesses didn’t do this because it was a pain to collect payments. Using HoneyBook, set it up in whatever number of payments you like, and it lands in your bank account.
Biggest Missed Opportunity For Wedding Pros: Collaboration
At HoneyBook, we enable collaboration between professionals with what we call “Collectives.”
If you build a strong network and community around you – 3 DJs, 3 photographers, 3 planners, for example – you can perform more events with a team you love.
Competition is often seen negatively. If we can automate the referral sharing opportunities with each other and create a strong community, it’s an opportunity for the future.
Best Tip For Improving Workflow: Automate Your Referral Process
Always embed a referral mechanism.
Say to the bride or groom, “You just booked me. What else do you need?”
Turn this question into a part of your process.
Typically, wedding pros wait for the couple to ask them for a referral. But they’re planning a wedding and have many needs. Share referrals of the vendors you trust. They will do the same for you.
We’re working hard to automate that inside HoneyBook so that we can save more of these opportunities. We called it the PVL (Preferred Vendor List.)
Inside HoneyBook, a bride books you and immediately sees your PVL. The system can see that she already booked a florist, so we don’t present those options. We can see that three of these five DJs are already booked on that day, and this person doesn’t serve their location. Why would we present these?
Your PVL will be adjusted to the needs of the couple, so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. The minute she clicks to indicate her interest, it sends the vendor an introductory email, “Here’s an amazing couple! You should meet with them.”
It forwards the couple’s information, so the pro you’ve referred has everything she needs to know. The process is seamless.
The couple is happy because you saved them time. The wedding pro is happy because you sent an amazing referral.
The Story of HoneyBook
HoneyBook is four years old today (May 1st, 2017)!
My wife and co-founder was a freelance UX engineer with a business building websites. At the time, I owned a bar. We were both small business owners who loved serving customers.
When we got married we were surprised that so many pros accepted only cash and checks. I never wrote a check until that day! I had to go to a bank and print it out.
That was an indication that something was wrong. Everything was outdated and offline. Why? We started talking to people.
Small business owners have a superpower and turn it into a business, but they don’t know what their potential is. They don’t have the resources and advice of investors, advisors and employees as a solo entrepreneur.
We knew there was a problem to solve, but we didn’t understand just how big a pain it was.
These wedding professionals got into business to do what they love. But between the social media madness of everything they’re “supposed” to do to run a business, they can’t keep up.
They’re overwhelmed and falling behind. Without the ability to hire help, they start seriously questioning whether they want to pursue the passion that made them want to start a business in the first place.
Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat couldn’t care less about small businesses. They want you to create work for them, creating posts, hashtags and comments.
But when the world moves to a new platform, everything you’ve learned is irrelevant! You have no idea how to generate new clients.
In the past, you could build up a business for 30-40 years on your reputation. You’d learn how to acquire customers, and it got easier and easier over time.
The only way to solve this problem is through COMMUNITY, through the people you work with and the referrals you give and receive. Not through social media madness.
At HoneyBook, we’re creating an infrastructure around transactions to build a community, referrals and what we call a “market network.” You get to refer the people you love working with and make sure you work with them a lot.
That’s what we’re excited about: helping people turn their passion into a business, and then helping them sustain it over time.
HoneyBook In the Next 5 Years
We hope to prove that you can spend 90% of your time doing your passion and exercising your superpower and not have to worry about the rest of what’s involved in running a business.
Today we can help you with the 20% of managing your clients and payments. Our goal is to really free you up to do what you love and the freedom to create with anyone from anywhere.
Thousands of years ago people lived in communities. They knew who you were and everyone wanted to work with you because you’d built a legacy in your business. That’s how communities work, and we want to bring it back.
That’s the world we want to see.