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I recently spoke via video at the Wedding Business CEO Summit and spoke on the process of creating a customer journey. My talk was called There’s A Fraction Too Much Friction: Automation For Your Customer Journey. I believe this is an important and valuable topic for all wedding business people to get in their life, and I'm so glad I get to share it with Celebrant Institute members.

Hello, my name is Josh Withers. And in this talk, I’m talking about automation, but not the kind that you’re probably used to and not the kind that’s going to destroy humanity, à la pop culture, news or society or people talking. I’m just talking about using the tools that are at our disposal. And now this is a, it’s a little bit practical, but it’s a little bit more, more philosophical because I believe before you pick up a tool, whether it’s an ax, whether it’s a car, you know, a hammer, whatever it might be, that you would know why you’re using it. And it may well be that you pick up a tool and you find a purpose in learning to use the tool. And that’s very much what can happen with tools. I’ll talk about today, like Zapier, or If This Then That, or even just apps you probably already got installed in your phone, like Facebook or Instagram or email, but more so I want to try and craft a journey beneath all of them so that when you pick up those tools, they have purpose meaning, and they actually do something for you.

Something that matters something that changes systems, processes, and real life activities in your life and your business, and even more so that it would actually matter for your couples for your clients, but your people that hire you would have a much better experience, dare I say they would have a whimsical, joyful experience because you chose to do the deep, hard work you had to do and you automated, what you didn’t have to. So if you are interested in that then tune on in. I think one of the most beautiful things about operating, working in the wedding industry is just the pure opportunity that’s available to us just to bring a whimsy and joy, to just regular beautiful, plain old people on the street, just to bring amazing, beautiful experiences to them. It’s the kind of thing that they usually only get when they go to, you know, your Disney or they fly first class with an upgrade on points or something like that.

It’s, it’s the kind of experience they don’t get every day, which has always been a part of the the core of the wedding industry, that whole #OnePerfectDay. And, and I don’t like that element of the industry because it can, yeah, I’ll be honest with you. It can lead to really high expectations, big disappointments, and what actually is just a good, beautiful, pure day can end up with just sometimes a sad face and maybe that’s because expectations of the client weren’t met and they didn’t know that those expectations came with a certain price tag, and there’s a whole, there’s a whole confusing element there that we can sidetrack on, but I just really do. I just love that I have the opportunity to walk into people’s weddings and just make an amazing, so I’ll introduce you to myself and what I do and who I am, and and then lead you into how I do that, which is just provide that, that really beautiful whimsical experience to my couples.

And and it’s because of that, that I I have a full-time business with myself and my wife both employed in it. We tried to get our toddler involved, but she’s another interested yet. So maybe one day she’ll join the family business, but look, my name is Josh Withers. I live on the gold coast in Australia and on a celebrant now for some people in different parts of the world, ah, the word celebrant might be interchanged with say officiant or basically person who stands up at the ceremony and marries people that are, that you would be married because I was the person standing there and I made a ceremony. So I suppose you could simplify and say that I create epic marriage ceremonies. I’ll do that in what you might call your big old plain wedding, you know, with the million guests and all of the trimmings.

I’m very lucky. I’m very blessed that maybe about half of my work is with my wife, Brit who founded the Elopement Collective. It’s kind of weirdly become a hashtag on Instagram that has nothing to, nothing to do with us, #elopmentcollective. But if you look at, @elopementcollective on Facebook or Instagram, or even just the elopmentcollective.com, you can see there that Brits created just another one of those whimsical beautiful businesses in the wedding industry that create really epic experiences for people. And so I’m really proud of that. I think that’s the we’ve made a beautiful business and I find it a joy to, to operate in those two strengths one, the kind of production, if you might call it for the weddings and I am, and I love doing elopements. And the reason I like the both of them is it’s kind of like it’s using two different muscles.

You see, I see a wedding as something that’s for everyone. And then an elopement, something that’s not for everyone. It’s just for a couple and maybe a few people witness it. But if at any point, if it starts becoming about the guests, that’s a wedding and elopement is about the two people getting married. And I think that’s really awesome. And and like I’ve alluded to, I’ve found so much strength in creating an epic experience for the couple, not just in that moment when they get married, but the whole experience. I honestly think that’s my, that’s my secret sauce. That’s my strength. Like I really do believe I make amazing marriage ceremonies but the thing with a marriage ceremony is that there’s no, there’s no number one ultimate ceremony. There’s no number one, ultimate celebrant. You know, I wouldn’t say that I’m the best celebrant in the world.

Maybe I am. Who knows because there’s no real, there’s no ladder, there’s no water, there’s no Grammys or there’s no there’s no chart of who’s the best because a great ceremony for you might not be made for me. And if I did make it for you, you’d be really upset because what I make is, is this artisinal beautiful thing. That is a personal ceremony for people who have the same worldviews as me and people that believe the same as me. And I’ve really leaned into that really strongly across our entire business, which is why I feel confident bringing it to you, not in the realm of so much business advices. I won the lotto here in my lotto numbers. No, what I’m saying is that I, I win the lotto every single day and here’s my system for choosing the right numbers. And that’s what I’m going to bring it today. It’s all about creating an epic customer journey.

This talk is called There’s a Fractions Too Much Friction by the end of the talk I hope and believe that you can create an epic journey for your clients to take that will deliver your product and service, product or service beautifully with whimsy, joy, beauty, simplicity, wonder. That what you do, wouldn’t just be on a wedding day. And for many of you, maybe it isn’t depending on what the service or product you provide, but that your, your whole experience that the thing that’s on the invoice is this wider experience. And it didn’t happen accidentally. It happened very purposefully that your clients would go on a journey that you crafted and much like going on a ride on Disney. You might notice that the you know, the, the rollercoaster doesn’t just go everywhere, I guess, in this very specific journey whether it’s a ride that takes you, you know, through a beautiful, beautiful river, that journey is pre-planned and we’ve designed it to be whimsical and beautiful.

And the secret is to filter the right people in and out of the journey, because not everyone’s going to like the journey, but you’ll get the right people on the journey that you would create this slide that they could go on, that would just be whimsical. I view the whole customer journey idea as a, what we call a slippery dip. I live in Queensland in Australia. I hear other parts of Australia called a slippery slide as for the rest of the world. I don’t know. But it’s one of these things. And the reason I like this slippery slide or slippery dip I’m probably just going to call it a slippery dip, cause there’s a little dip. And the reason I like that analogy for a customer journey is because of the entire place that a slippery dip exists. You see slippery dips don’t exist everywhere.

Like they’re not just in the middle of roads. They’re not just in the middle of restaurants. There they’re in places that are designated playgrounds. I really do like the idea of the wedding industry, being a playground like bad things don’t happen on playgrounds, fun things happen. It’s this beautiful journey. And there’s all these different rides and experiences in a playground. It might be the swing set. It might be the slide that could be the monkey bars or the climbing gym or whatever it might be. And you can choose to be any one of those objects in this and the playground. I’m going to be the slippery dip. The whole journey begins as people find out that a playground exists. I think that’s always really funny, but me as a dad, I drive around town and I identify new playgrounds because I’ve got a toddler. I want to take it to all the best playgrounds.

So I’ve started amassing this playground database in my head. And before I was a dad, I didn’t know about any playgrounds had no idea. The second you become a parent, all of a sudden your playground mad, you’ve got all the best playgrounds mapped out. You got the closest playgrounds. If you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve and go to that playground, if you’re up at the end of town, there’s a really epic playground. And you know, you, might’ve had other friends with kids and you’re like, Hey guys, on Saturday, we’re all going to go to this playground. That’s an epic playground. And I liked that idea of the wedding industry being that, that as people become engaged, as they start going down, that rabbit hole of we’re getting married, what does that mean? That they would encounter a playground and you’ve positioned yourself in that playground.

Imagine the playground as a marketplace. Imagine it as a mall, markets, whatever you need to imagine it as, and all of the wedding vendors that are like you are in the same place. So the first step on the customer journey is people just finding out that the playground exists is this for me? And like, we’ve all done. Like I’ve driven past some playground thoughtnot for my daughter, it’s not cool enough. So people will start filtering themselves out early. They’ll look at the playground from afar and say, not for me, but per chance they might get out of the car and start walking around the playground, surveying the different elements of the playground. What can I play on? This is what I call the marketing and sales part of the whole journey that people, first of all, have to identify as someone that’s getting married. So they book a wedding business and then once they figure out that your, the kind of business they might want to have, and they might not even know your existing.

That’s the beautiful thing about the wedding industry is that you can start today. You’re in the same footing as everyone else, because there’s not that long-term brand resilience that that really matters. And other places like if you’re buying groceries or cars, I don’t want to buy a car from some new upstart, but the wedding industry, I don’t know, I’ve never heard of any of these people. So it’s a little bit more of a level footing and important part of this process is to remember that, that your existence now in the playground is a big part of your sales and marketing journey. That how you look from the outside before anyone ever calls you before anyone ever emails, you sees you at an expo or a fair or a directory or in a Facebook group that before they ever find out that you exist. But there is this, this early stage where someone looks at you from afar.

This is not indifferent with regular retail shops. So we walked through malls and we see a store though, I’m might go inside there, automation and your business takes its very first role here where you would identify that there are easy, simple, dare, even called it stupid things that, that you can automate to make you look great and amazing and and worthy of inquiring with before people ever, even before you’ve had to lift a finger, but more importantly, that this can happen at one o’clock in the morning or two on this two o’clock on a Saturday or whatever it might be that this is an automated process. Things I think about here automating social media. Now what about any social media is not terribly favorable with the algorithms, but you can schedule social media. So the automated part of this might be sitting down on a Tuesday and mapping out the next week or the next month and creating some posts that are scheduled to go out so that at the time when the people come onto the playground and find out that you exist, that checking your social media and seeing whether you’re active and whether you’re fresh, whether you’re doing new work and interesting work, that that’s an automated thing that doesn’t keep you up in mind that you might do what I do sometimes get home from a wedding on a Saturday like, Oh, I haven’t posted on social all day long.

How will people know that I exist in the them doing good work, automate that stuff. I’m not going to tell you how to, because so much ofit is built into Facebook today. And honestly you might watch this talk and. there might be a brand fangdangled new social network that everyone’s getting excited about and there’ll be automated parts of that, that I just can’t even talk to. Cause I didn’t even know it existed at the time I was writing this. So figuring out how to automate those visible elements of your business, this comes down to things like your blog or your journal or your active parts of your website as well. Now, once again, automating this as hard because this is deep and important work. This is you capturing and journaling what you do as a, as a wedding business owner. So automating it as far as just sending it to the robots.

Probably not that easy and probably not that worthwhile, to be honest with you, but the automating part of this might be outsourcing, or it might be doing that batching. You put us put aside a day a month and this is when I write the blog post for the next month or two and you schedule them up and you send them out. I do this every month. It’s so important to be blogging on our different websites. So we’re back to the playground and people have noticed that you, the slippery dip, if they do exist and they’ve taken a look on from the outside, they’ve looked at your social media, had a quick look at your reviews. They’ve had a quick look at the website and I thought, I wonder if this is the slippery dip for me. Now, if you’ve ever written a slippery dip or a slippery slide, you’d know that you’re not fully committed until you’re going down the slide, that ladder up the slide is quite noncommittal. You can turn around at any time and crawl back down. I called this the inquiry process. This is the part of the journey where people, if they haven’t already filtered themselves out, this is where it really happens at the easiest filter of all is price. But there’s other filters that are way more important than price, which is, you know, do you do the kind of work that they want? Is the kind of work that you make, is it appreciated by people like this? Because as much as it’s nice to just earn money, how nice is it to do work that matters for people that appreciate it? So the inquiry process is also for you and them, it’s not just for them to find out whether you’re available and how much. God, if I ever get another email that says how much I am, I’ll probably just shut down.

I’ve literally crafted my entire business of this whole talk is so I don’t get emails. I say how much? So I’ll tell you about my process and and you can mirror it to yours however you want. The important part is that I’ve got a solid journey, I’ve got a road over those ladders at the steps that people would take to take the slide and there’s elements that are flexible and I get to choose now. So the first ladder on the step is that finding the place on your website, where people can get in touch. Is it the inquiry form? Is that a contact form? Is that a phone number? Is it a text? This is your very first chance to really start narrowing that path and saying, look, I only do business like this. I’ve got a good friend who loves a good phone call about his work.

He loves to get an inquiry and call them back. Or he loves to get a phone call. I don’t want to get a phone call ever. So I work really hard to make sure people don’t find out my phone number at that stage. I don’t mind people knowing my phone number. I just don’t want you to call and ask how much. I want you to engage with the process. I want you to validate yourself early. I want you to opt in to my customer journey. So we’ve done two different things here before. One of them was just to request an information pack the form, literally just asked for an email address and a name you click submit and an automated email would be sent to you saying, Hey person, here’s your information pack that you requested. Now the information pack, isn’t a PDF because PDFs can be changed after they’ve been sent and also PDFs are not responsive.

So if they’re viewing it on a mobile, which they probably are, then it looks weird to go to zoom in. It’s just not a nice experience. So we would say requesting information back and they would get sent an email. And that literally just had a link in it. And that link was a page that I could update on my page at any time. So it was a secret page on my website. I made sure that I had the robot style text option off. So that search engines wouldn’t wouldn’t crawl that page. So it wouldn’t come up in search results. If people asked how much Joshua is, but it was the kind of page I could only send you now, obviously people could pass it on to other people. It’s not giving you a top secret government information. I just want people to opt into the process.

Now I no longer do an information pack because I’d want it to make this part of the journey a little bit narrower. I can’t be everyone’s celebrant. I’ve got a toddler, a toddler recording. I’ve got a baby on the way. And I can’t be out at a 1000 sales meetings and I can’t be at 1000 weddings. So I’ve had to increase my price a little bit out of had to narrow that journey so that people that inquire are really in on me. So here’s what I do now. The next step on the ladder as they make an inquiry form is I open up an app called Bonjoro it’s an Australian app, B O N J O R O and Bonjoro allows me to send video emails. Now here’s an important automation. The inquiry form, they fill it out. That creates an entry in Bonjoro thanks to Zapier. So I can open the Bonjoro app and straight then and there is their name and email address. I can click send an email. I’ve already got the email address. I don’t have to be copying and pasting email addresses or anything like that. In one drawer, I’ve already credited the contact. I record an email that says, “Hey, Jack and Jill, Josh here. I’d love to be a celebrant”. And I give a little bit of a spiel, make sure the video is no longer than 45, 60 seconds. And then that same video email, I send them the information pack. So as they opened the information pack, they’ve already had a really personal view of who I am and how I work. And at this point, they’re just like, I just want to know how much, but I’ll probably pay any price. That’s my hope. Anyway, you see every part of this journey I keep on coming back to it is you filtering people in and out that when you automate work, that you’re automating the boring, repetitive things that just aren’t that valuable to your business.

And honestly, sometimes the easiest way to automate something is to just not have to do the work at all. And it filtering people out, whether it’s via inquiry process, sending a video, I get a lot of emails saying, you’re lovely we just can’t afford you. And I’m, I’m grateful that we had that experience and, and the, if they can’t afford me, that’s okay. I can’t afford to be their celebrant. So we’ve come to the process really easily. You see your not for everyone and everyone isn’t for you, your job in this whole inquiry process, as people take the steps up the ladder to hopefully ride that slide. That is your business is to in a non-discriminatory way in a non exclusionary way, filter people in and out. I say that importantly I hope that no, one’s watching this thinking great. I can, I can filter out people from China.

I can filter out people who are of a different sexuality to me. I hope that you don’t use this advice to do that, but there’d be worldviews. You know, it might be like me that you believe that the marriage ceremony isn’t a place for custom and tradition to rule and reign, but you might believe that the marriage ceremony should be this fresh, meaningful moment that goes for as long as it needs to go and no longer. And it should be as short as it needs to be a no shorter, but it would be this powerful moment where two people exchange personalized vows, see me just doing a little pitch right then and there is, is me it filtering people out and that’s okay. Hopefully it’s not filtering you out of this talk. But the, as people want to engage with a marriage celebrant, they would know that they need a celebration like me and as they take these steps up, they might not be able to afford me and might watch the video and say, Oh, actually I don’t like his personality, but each one of those steps as them filtering themselves out to powerful moment, because then they get to the very top of the slide. Maybe we’ve had a zoom call. Maybe we’ve had a FaceTime, or maybe we’ve met in person. Maybe we’ve just emailed back and forth. I’ve actually had a lot of people book me just off the back of the video, email from Bonjoro. But the top of the slide is where they make the decision. You see it. A lot of the journey up until now has been about me creating friction. And I know the title of the talk is there’s a fraction too much friction, and which I strongly believe, but as much as I’ve been creating friction on this journey, I’ve been heavily reducing it as well.

Like I’m not creating a custom quote for each person. I’ve put it all on our information pack page. JoshuaWithers.com.au/information it’s just there. I don’t have to do that every time so friction reduced, I’ve made an inquiry form on my website. And so that I get the right information. I need to get no more, no less, rather than just an email box. That says message. And I have to try and ask questions in there. So I’m reducing friction at every point of the way, but then I’m increasing friction to demonstrate or deliver value.See, at our core as wedding creatives, we’re delivering value. And sometimes we have to demonstrate that, which is why I create friction, slow the journey down. And I send them a video to send that video, but that doesn’t always happen straight away. I’ve got to find a quiet place to work or something like that.

So I create friction to deliver value, to demonstrate value and reduce friction, to create whimsy that people could get my price without having to wait days for a quote or anything like that. Or they had received the price and it would be accurately and beautifully displayed, not just on the phone, “yeah it’s 300 mate” You wouldn’t communicate like that. That’s actually not as helpful as you think, reducing friction, increasing friction. So we’ve done the dance up the stairs. They’ve made the inquiry. I’ve replied the saying that I’m available. Here’s a video, here’s my information pack. Another thing I’ve done to reduce friction as with that information pack, with that link, you can book me then and there, if you would consider yourself safe then you could just do that. Then you can do that. But we’ve had a meeting once again I’ve reduced friction to book a meeting of use the app Fantastical to choose a few times from my calendar that work and send them to the clients.

Now you might live a life where Calendly, or I know you use Dubsado for my CRM, and that has a schedule and appointment scheduling software built in. But my life doesn’t really work like them. So I choose time from Fantastical and I send it to them and I can choose which time suits them best one thing and another opportunity to show that whimsical, beautiful nature of not having the back and forth of meeting times that we can just choose them. And we’ve got to the top of that slide and they’re moments away from running the running down the slide. I like the slide analogy because everyone loves going down the slide. Like it’s literally the international symbol of joy that you go down a slide. I want people to experience that in my business, that that would experience that weeee moment and how I make sure that happens. That the whole process is lubricated. It’s this beautiful whimsical slide. The top of the slide is that, yes, no moment will they book me? Won’t they book me. This is so important. I’ve heard so many stories of so many people that would have booked someone and they haven’t because of this moment and equally have had so many bookings from people that have booked me because this moment was easy. This is the decision. Like go make this as whimsical and as simple and as beautiful as you can. Now, how I reconcile them is I make sure payment processing is just easy. If you can use Apple pay, Google pay, Samsung pay Square, Paper, whatever Shopify, whatever system you can, it just makes the money process so easy. Please do that. I know some people freak out about credit cards and whatnot, but it’s just so easy.

At least in Australia, I can talk that if I see Apple panel website, I am in! I’ll probably just buy it even if I don’t want it. So figure out how you can get maybe not Apple pay, but maybe make sure that your payment form, ah, does the auto complete from say 1Password or from the web browser auto fill with a credit card, just all these little elements just to make it so easy. See, in Australia, if you want to send money to a bank account, people use BSB and account numbers. BSB is the bank branch number. And they can numbers, obviously the account number. And obviously people put it in an email with dashes in between, but when you copy that, the dashes come over and they put an error in the internet banking software. Don’t put dashes. People are just going to copy it.

So all these little things that just cause little hiccups can be really painful. It’s even on the booking form or the contract, as people are signing up, get as much information as you need no more, no less. They’d be asking for the grandfather’s second brother’s last name. Just ask for as much information as you need. No more at this stage, you might not even need their address. I don’t know your processes are yours, but if you don’t need their address, don’t ask for their address. Ask for as much as you need to and no more, make sure there’s a clean journey so people know that they are booking you, make sure if there’s a contractual part that they’re signing a contract and as they make a deposit or a booking fee, whatever you call it, that those points would be really clear so that people would just have a beautiful, beautiful experience, booking you to be their wedding creative, which leads us to the final part of the process.

That’s you delivering the service, automate the parts that are necessary but don’t demonstrate value, automate the parts that can create whimsy and joy and increase friction to demonstrate the value that you provide, whether that’s making time to, for a sit down meeting and in a meeting, you sit down and do all the hard work, how you deliver your product, what you deliver, that’s completely up to you. But my only encouragement would be to identify the things that are necessary, but don’t provide value to you or your clients and automate that as much as you can. I’m talking about invoices and invoice reminders, that kind of thing. In fact, I’m going to talk about these in a second, but just make sure the journey is whimsical because anyone, anyone can photograph a wedding. I don’t want to take that away from the wedding photographers watching, but if you’ve, if someone’s got an iPhone and they make a photo at a wedding, no, they’re not a wedding photographer, but they just made a photo at our wedding.

And they’re just a few whimsical, beautiful professional, talented, skilled steps away from taking your job, but they are not about providing whimsey and joy as part of the experience of booking you as a wedding photographer. That’s your value, not the JPEGs, not the, if you’re a celebrant, not the moments that you’re speaking at the ceremony, that’s just the byproduct of this beautiful experience. That is you. The last thing on that product story that weee down the slide was I went to a restaurant recently where the meal was far too expensive, but it was beautiful. And I thought it was such a different meal compared to the normal pub or tavern meal that you might get in Australia, which you know, for 10, $15, you had a steak slapped on the plate, more vegetables and fries and chips and gravy than you could ever imagine. 10, $15.

That’s a bargain. Whereas at this really nice restaurant where the experience was lovely, where the waiter just took details and didn’t write them down, but she just remembered them. And when I wanted another drink, she just brought me the same drink and you know, those little special elements that really aren’t that hard, but they’re kind of beautiful that at that restaurant, the steak came out as just a simple steak on a plate. There was a little bit of a smear of some kind of sauce, but it was simple and beautiful. And yeah, the steak was great. I think that’s simple artisinal crafted steak can be something we can all look to and what we provide as a wedding industry, that we would choose that singular journey going down the slide, you know, this is not multiple slides in this, in this metaphor, in this analogy.

There’s, there’s not a hundred different slides. It’s just one slide really well, but your service that your business could simplify. So the people who would talk accurately about you and live in the public marketplace and say, Oh, that slide is great. It did this, I did this. And it made me feel like this. I like to call that a remarkable slide, not a remarkable slide, because it was great, but because people are able to remark on it, that your slide, that your customer journey, that your business would be remarkable. And it is that way because you’ve automated the things that matter, but not enough to take up your time, whether it’s the sending a text message through Zapier, when someone books you to say thank you, or whether it’s automated invoicing or making sure payment can happen instantly see hooking up Stripe to your booking form and taking it a deposit at time of booking that is whimsey.

That’s beautiful. That is automation, automation isn’t booking a robot to come and claim a house. Although, you know what, that’s not a bad idea either, but it’s you finding new ways to delight people. And hopefully it ends up a little bit more like the single steak on a plate. This artisanally beautifully crafted piece of steak that people could easily remark on. I recently got a phone call from a real estate, not from the agent, which is why the story’s important. It was from, it was from someone that they had outsourced their Merry Christmas wishes to. And they rang me on behalf of the real estate agent to say, Merry Christmas and I hope you have a great new year. And I really felt like that person had outsourced that person had automated the wrong parts of their business, that a phone call from them.

They don’t know that we’re looking at selling our house in the near future, an actual phone call where they sat down and did the hard, deep work of calling me probably would have actually netted them a sale. But instead they automated the wrong things. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to someone. And my philosophy of all of this is about being unpopular. I firmly and beautifully believe that if you pursue an unpopular life, a life and a business and a lifestyle in that business where you’re not everything to everyone, but you’re something beautiful to someone that that is a far easier and more joyful place for you to exist as a business person. And we do that through automating the work that is important to us. I want to wrap up with two demonstrations of things that I’ve automated, one that failed, and one that succeeded just to kind of help you start making those decisions in your world.

I might mention different tools, but you’ll find new and beautiful different tools to use in this journey. The important part is to be looking for the opportunities and the software and the apps and the technologies and the gadgets you have so that you can automate the work that isn’t important and really apply yourself to the work that is important. The first one is in Australia to get legally married you need to complete a form called the notice of intended marriage. We’ll call it a NOIM. And that NOIM has to be with your celebrant before one month before. So if you get it to me on the 1st of January, that on the 1st of February, I can marry you. Now preparing those forms is an arduous process has to be correct. There’s lots of names, details, dates of birth, parents, details, house divorced, occupations addresses, all that kind of thing.

ID, passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, all these things. For a long time, I tried to automate that. I really tried hard cause I just don’t like doing NOIMs. It’s important. Like it’s required by law. So there’s an element of me that shouldn’t find it too boring, but it’s just required of me. And I’ve tried time after time to automate that. What I’ve found over the past 10 years of being a marriage celebrant. I can’t automate that yet. It requires a human to be involved. So did I let NOIMs distract me from the important work of creating epic marriageceremonies? No, I hired a personal assistant, trained her how to do it. I still have to overlook them, but she creates the paperwork. She emails it to the couple, checks for spelling, and that puts it in the system. And it’s ready for me to do.

That’s an important, but not important for me to apply myself to job that I’ve automated. The failure in that was me trying to over the many, many years before then trying to make a web
forms and computer programs and trying to fit other programs inside the system. It just doesn’t. But where I did succeed is an invoicing. I hate invoicing. You might be a really great person who doesn’t mind talking about numbers and finances in front of people. I don’t like it. I don’t, I don’t like saying that you owe me money. This is part of my personality. It’s not my favorite thing in the world to do so. How do I get around that in my wedding business? Well, the good place to start is in automating the parts of your accounting and bookkeeping that you hate, which is pretty much all of it for me.

So I use an app called Xero. X-E-R-O. That’s how my accounting software of choice and I’ve automated so many parts that I love it. When someone books for an elopement or a wedding in the booking forms, I’ve made that imports into Xero and creates a customer with email address, phone number, address. It creates an invoice. I still have to check it because sometimes invoices are just a little bit different to what they might think they are. But the invoice credit of the user’s credit, it’s got a due date automatically, and it’s all created through Zapier. And that’s not everything. Once I’ve processed the invoice and have approved it and sent it, Xero sends out reminders at intervals that I’ve planned. Plus I’ve built in the Stripe credit card feature so that when people get the invoice, they can click pay now in their phone, it’s got Apple pay built in and boom I’m paid.

This has lubricated getting money from people more than you could ever imagine. Xero is even got a feature I can charge them a credit card fee. And I love that. And I kind of like, I don’t like that. I like to take the credit card fee as part of the cost of doing business and just increase the fee by the credit card fee once again, and a whimsical moment where I’m not charging a credit card fee, I’m still making the money though. It’s just happening a different way. If you look through this whole presentation, you might find that a lot of this is me imagining that I am my own customer, which honestly is not the place to start. It also helps to envisage other people being your customer, but hopefully nothing in your business annoys you, which is how I’ve crafted my business.

I love using Apple pay. I love using credit cards to pay for things. I get the frequent flyer points. The whole deal is great. I make sure that I would like to use my business. That whether it’s importing photos to iCloud photo library, using credit cards, to do things or using regular standard apps, like email or text that my clients don’t have to install weird apps to interact with me, but it’s all very native and very nice. I’ll leave you with this closing thought that underlines pretty much all every decision I make in business. I imagine that I’m a sports person, gladiator, whoever you want people that go into stadiums. I imagine that I’m that person. And I only walk in the stadium is where I believe I can win. Like if I was a footballer, I would only go to matches I think I could win.

And maybe that’s a little bit arrogant, but luckily I’m not a professional footballer. I’m just Josh Withers. And I get to choose which arenas I walk into. I only walk into arenas where I believe that I can win. And when I do that, I’m normally when I feel confident walking into so many of those arenas now, because the automations and the customer journey, that deliberate customer journey that I’ve laid out, that when I walk into a stadium normally do win. And of course the stadium is a metaphor. I only walk into weddings that I believe I can be great at. I only book clients thatI believe I can please and impress and bring whimsy to. I only do business with the people who have the same world views as me, so that I know that we can work together to make great things. And that’s my encouragement to you that you would really think about creating a crafted artismal product that you deliver on epic an customer journey that you would do it using as much automation as possible and no more, no less. And because of all that, you could go and win that you could go and walk onto any stage and be successful because he did all the hard work before then you reduce the friction when you need to and no longer would you say that there was a fraction too much friction.