With planners and destination clients across the United States, working virtually has been a part of Chancey Charm since it was founded. Today, community, collaboration, and support online has become a cornerstone of our team culture. Improvements in technology have made our work together and with our clients even more fluid, and the introduction of Aisle Planner was a milestone in this journey for us.
With the current crisis and movement toward digital work in-house and with our clients, we’re ramping up our virtual workspace capabilities and leaning into the benefits of working from home. I’m excited to share a few of our very favorite benefits of a virtual workspace here, along with a few tips and tricks as you navigate COVID-19 with your team.
Real-Time Collaboration With Clients
As I’ve shared, I’m incredibly thankful to have Aisle Planner established as our online portal to collaborate with clients. This is making our life a lot easier as we postpone weddings and continue to plan summer and fall weddings without face-to-face meetings. I truly can’t imagine navigating this without Aisle Planner right now, and I think that it’s provided a sense of peace for our clients, to have access to a program they can work through with us in real-time. We also love that we can easily invite other vendors into projects for cohesive collaboration on our weddings.
"One of the benefits of having a virtual tool like Aisle Planner, is that it gives you the ultimate team experience. Being able to connect and collaborate with the couple, the vendors, and other planners all under 'one roof' truly makes me feel like we're working side by side. It also saves our sanity and time when trying to work around multiple schedules to plan in person meetings."
- Chantal Stephens (Chancey Charm NYC Planner & Designer)
"Aisle Planner has been a game changer for me. I struggled using multiple tools to try and showcase thoughts, ideas, notes and now I have it all in one place. The added bonus is it empowers my coupes to be present in their own events. Until they can see the images in the Design Studio transform into a storyboard or a sketch, sometimes planning doesn’t feel real yet. Always having virtual access to your planning tasks including a budget, images, and important notes keep us connected and it’s so much easier to ensure we stay on the same page."
- Jasmin J. Bray (Chancey Charm Houston Planner & Designer)
Community + Collaboration
I set up Slack a few years ago for our team as a “virtual water cooler” for life updates and quick questions. It’s morphed into an incredible place for our planners to get advice in a pinch. I watch our planners craft emails together for tough situations and source welcome baskets and wedding favors together. They're sharing discounts and resources for our couples. But, the most beautiful part of our online community chat is that it’s become a place for our planners to celebrate wins and cheer each other on. It’s operating in a true we over me mentality that brings tears to my eyes weekly. I can’t believe I have the honor of watching this beautiful community develop like this. We're a drama-free work environment for our planners, assistants, interns, support staff, and for myself. And I think that having an emotionally positive environment has been crucial in keeping this space safe and healthy for everyone. It’s amazing what can happen when respect is a standard.
Another platform we love to use is Zoom. We’re able to host monthly team calls and happy hours via Zoom and can’t say enough great things about how easy it is to use. We’ve also loved working via Zoom with clients who are planning from another city or can’t make it across town after work due to traffic or previous commitments. Hopping on Zoom with our clients and sharing the Aisle Planner screen makes planning together virtually visually engaging and simple.
Working through the coronavirus event industry crisis together, sharing best practices and encouragement through this season via Slack and Zoom has kept us sane and provided a professional response to the crisis. 35+ heads are better than one, right? Our emergency response call to this crisis gave our team a 10 point action step plan (which I’ve been sharing on our site), that’s helped us professionally navigate this with grace. It’s been the ultimate example of our we over me standard, and I could not be more blessed by their passionate but loving collaboration through this. If you’re a planner navigating the new challenges of 2020, I encourage you to find support online through a facebook group or network of local planners you trust.
Virtual Design Boards
Design is something we really lean into and have fun with at Chancey Charm. Founded on the standard of custom details, design boards, and hand-drawn sketches for our clients, we really love bouncing mood boards and visuals off our clients virtually. It gives life to their ideas and gives them something to get excited about during the planning process. It also helps us clarify expectations and collaborate more fluidly with all the vendors. Our Charlottesville locations have excelled at creating stunning designs for their clients and continues to raise the bar. Here are some thoughts from our Lead Planner and Designer there...
"Being able to design virtually has been a huge saving grace for us! We're able to keep the process moving with the in-person limitations in place which is so important at this time. The design guide in Aisle Planner makes it so easy for clients to save images that they love and puts it in a PDF for me to easily send to vendors as a baseline for inspiration. Having this tool has streamlined the virtual process and limited the back and forth. I don’t have to wait for clients to send me these images, they're automatically there!"
- Alana Futcher (Chancey Charm Charlottesville Planner & Designer)
It’s important as planners in this season to maintain a work-life balance and virtual work boundaries to stay healthy for our clients, our families, and ourselves. Working virtually is an enormous blessing in this season, and creating boundaries will keep it that way. I encourage our team and planners I mentor to write down their professional and personal goals every year and review them quarterly, making adjustments as needed. I also encourage our team to include out of office dates and “office hours” on their email signature.
For those who are struggling to navigate all of the postponement, engagement, client emails in this unusual season our Houston Chancey Charm Planner and Designer Skylar Caitlin has whipped up a simple autoresponder template that you’re welcome to use below.
Thank you so very much for reaching out. Please know that your request is a priority for me, and I am working hard to get to your email.
Our team is experiencing a high volume of emails and calls with spring postponements, and ask that you allow 48 hours for a response if your wedding date is beyond June 1st.
Thank you for your grace in this season,
Making the move toward a virtual workspace is becoming more and more important in 2020 and beyond. But I encourage you to lean into the benefits it has for your business, clients, and family.
Rooting For You,
Sarah Chancey, Founder + Wedding Planner Mentor at Chancey Charm