Why I Chose HoneyBook to Streamline My Design Business

September 8, 2020

I’ve been using HoneyBook since 2017 and it truly transformed my business. As a business owner (and a lover of systems and processes), I have tried a lot of client management systems. Both 17Hats and Dubsado were ok, but were missing essential elements I wanted from the app I used.

The biggest issue I had was how clunky the process felt. When it was time to try and book a potential client, I had to send way too many emails. The delay in time between emails also lost the energy and momentum the client had to book now which would lead to losing out on clients who partially had booked but wanted to back out.

The other option was to send all the emails at once, but that also didn’t work well because people would get overwhelmed. It was a lose lose situation for me. I was getting so frustrated and knew I needed a new solution.

Then I discovered HoneyBook…

I knew I needed to make a huge change when my booking rate was converting at 50%, based on how many people booked who got on a consultation call with me. My pricing on my site so I knew it wasn’t an investment issue. I was getting people interested but my process scared them away.

At the time, HoneyBook was used primarily for event-based businesses, especially in the wedding industry. Friends were constantly telling me how easy it was to run their business using HoneyBook so I had to give it a try. When I signed up for their trial, it took some creativity to make it work for my projects that lasted weeks rather than an event on one day.

But I’m so glad I stuck it out. Not only have they made improvements year after year to streamline my process, but I cannot imagine running my business without it. Let’s go over my favorite features.

Reports

When I first signed up for HoneyBook in April of 2017, I dove straight into the analytics they offer. Not only are they insightful, but extremely motivating.

The monthly chart helps me to easily see my success rate and compare how many leads I had each month vs. booked projects. ┬áLeads are people that email you asking about your services. I only add them to HoneyBook if they book a consultation call with me. It’s helpful to see how many consultations actually book. You can see when I made the switch, my conversion rate improved dramatically, from just over 50% to 95%.

Other helpful stats

Projects is the quick and easy way to see how much you’ve made, how many projects you’ve booked, and how much money you can still expect from further payments. It can help you budget and start planning your taxes as well. I also love that HoneyBook helps you to see where your leads and bookings are coming from. It can be a huge help when deciding where to invest your time and money in marketing.

The list of yearly and monthly analytics helps as well. I’m able to quickly see if a particular month converted better than another. This helps when planning monthly goals and marketing efforts. Their stats allow me to improve my business in real time which is invaluable.

Pipeline & Dashboards

My next favorite features are the project pipeline and the dashboards I can create for each client. I love the pipeline because it takes what could be overwhelming and makes it clean and simple. Once I’m in my account, I can quickly see all of my leads and booked clients. I also know what step in the process everyone is at in a glance. The clarity of knowing what is expected of me each day when I view my pipeline keeps my head in an organized place. I’m able to see if anything needs my attention.

I personally organize my active projects by start to end dates. This allows me to see a timeline of clients and when I’ll be working on their project. You can also archive projects, whether you worked with the client or they didn’t book. If you lose out on a project, you can actually choose the reason when you archive their project. It makes it so easy to not only see if there is a disconnect in part of your onboarding process but if someone comes back, you know why you missed out on their business the first go around and can adjust accordingly.

Archiving also helps me to keep track of past clients. When someone books with us, they lock in the current hourly rate. That way, for future updates, they can spend less as our rates go up over time. Having all of this information at your fingertips keeps it out of your head when you don’t need it just yet. The pipeline is the perfect feature for designers juggling multiple clients at one time.

Then there’s the dashboards…

When focusing on one project, you enter the client dashboard. It’s so great to have all of your messages (whether emailed directly or sent via HoneyBook) in one place. And the great thing is, messages you send in HoneyBook appear in your sent inbox folder. It’s a great way to use email and messaging but staying organized. Your dashboard can also have multiple members, making clients with more than one owner or collaborating with another creative a breeze.

There is a tab in the client dashboard that holds all of your files in one place. You can also quickly see when someone has viewed or signed a document you’ve sent. I’ve found my clients feel confident during the project because they know where to locate everything, like the contract.

The other tabs for payments and details keep track of upcoming payments and tell you all about the client. This is where I enter information like where they found December Oak, when their project start and end date are, and more information that I need quick reference to.

HoneyBook’s Additional Tools

There are a ton of features in HoneyBook. I wanted to briefly mention some others that have been awesome for my business. The iOS app is awesome to get updates and see when you’ve been paid (it even cha-chings! Very satisfying).

Bookkeeping (which connects right to Quickbooks) is a quick way to see all the payments you’ve received. Creating reports (like income/expense) is simple and compliments the analytics tool.

You’re able to add a library of your branded images to use throughout your paperwork, giving them a professional look. Adding your logo and signature brand color helps to make everything you send on brand. They offer contact forms you can add right to your site so that when people inquire about working with you, they get an automated response and are automatically added as a lead on the pipeline.

Workflows, tasks, and people/contacts also make HoneyBook a hub where you can find most of the information you need to run your business.  Having it all in one place has helped me save hours of time.

Community

Although you don’t need to be a subscriber of HoneyBook to join their community, it’s yet another reason I love this app. You can find in-search-of posts from people looking for your services and create collaboration opportunities. It’s a fun way to meet new people and offer your services where needed. And it’s tied right into Rising Tide (they helped to create it!).

The Feature that Boosted my Conversions: Templates

HoneyBook offers multiple documents that you can send to clients and I love their templates. I can create a full proposal in 15 minutes flat after a consultation. Spending that time to build my templates after signing up was time well spent.

Also, if you sign up initially with a yearly subscription, their amazing concierges will walk you through setting up your account and they’ll even transfer your templates or documents from another program over to HoneyBook! I have to tell you about my favorites.

Proposals

My absolutely favorite document to send is the proposal. This one file has been the single biggest factor in my success rate. Whether you first send a brochure so potential clients can choose what they want or you build a custom package, the proposal makes booking with you a breeze.

They first see a full breakdown of everything included in their project followed by their payment plan. Then, they continue straight to the contract to sign and the invoice instantly comes up when they do. My conversion rate improved so much because people aren’t waiting on me to send additional paperwork. Everything to book with me is in one page that walks them through the process for me. Genius!

And as you can see, the paperwork is clean, modern, and small details like images and your logo make it feel more on brand. I love that I’m confident when I sent paperwork to people because I know HoneyBook is setting a high standard for what it’s like to work with me.

Packages, Agreements, and Payment Plans

Proposals are built from puzzle pieces. I outlined everything included in my base packages and add-ons so I’m never guessing what is included when people book with me. I added my contract as well and the possible payment plans I offer. Then I just have to add those pieces to my proposal as I build it. HoneyBook auto-fills in the rest!

Brochure

Brochures are a unique and professional way to send a list of everything you offer to a potential client. They’re able to select which services they want to talk about more, removing multiple emails back and forth trying to figure out how you can serve them. I usually send this in rare occasions when I speak to people in a consultation and there are multiple options that could work for their project and really, it’s just a matter of budget. Once they hit submit, a proposal is auto-generated so I can book them easily.

Email

Canned responses help to get those files sent quickly and correctly every time. You can connect an email to a certain type of document. That way when you send it out, you make sure every person gets all of the information they need and you don’t miss a detail. It’s so much faster than trying to remember the same information and writing it out manually every time.

And more!

HoneyBook works however you need it to. They also have templates for questionnaires, contact forms, and giftcards!


Removing the barrier of more emails and more time when booking a client has streamlined my process. I’ve also received compliments from people I’ve booked on how enjoyable it was to submit their paperwork when normally it’s a hassle when working with other businesses. My business is more efficient and allows me to have more time for other tasks and self care.

The fact that all of these amazing features are present in just one app is a small business owner’s dream come true!

If you’ve fallen in love as much as I did when I signed up, I have fantastic news! You can now sign up for HoneyBook and receive 50% off your first year, a savings of $200! Sign up for your free trial here (you won’t be disappointed). It’s well worth it and I just know you’ll notice the difference in your process.

Want more information on other apps we use everyday to run December Oak? We’ve got them right here!

HoneyBook has been a game changer in my business. It's one of my favorite tools I use and boosted my conversion rate from 50% to 90% in just 8 months when I signed up! Click to learn more!
#smallbusiness #freelancer #graphicdesigner #branddesigner #webdesigner

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