The events industry is certainly a competitive one. No matter which area of events you specialize in, you probably have several companies competing for your customer’s business. Of course, oftentimes losing a customer can come down specifically to price. However, other times, it is an unprofessional image and confusing services that prompt customers to look elsewhere.
Whether you have been in business for a short or long time, you probably know that with documents like quotes and invoices there is no “one size fits all”. On the one hand, there are clients that want to see every single detail of a project down to the unit price per cable. On the other hand, you have those that simply need a brief summary of equipment and labor before confirming the project.
Coming up with a variety of designs for your quotations might seem like a lot of work and it certainly will require some dedication. However, there are a few basic steps you can take to ensure that your documents are overall clear and easily accepted by your customers. Remember: any time spent on setting up documents ahead of time is actually time you will save later on.
We will take you through content, style and digital options available for your documents along with tips and tricks on making the most out of them.
Make sure your content is clear
Your quote doesn’t have to just be a list of line items and their associated prices. No matter how hard you try to communicate value with written words, it sometimes might not be enough. Depending on who you are doing business with, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to help make your offering be as clear as possible.
Should I use images?
If you usually rent to other AV or live event professionals, then pictures are probably not necessary — especially on a line by line basis. Afterall, event professionals usually already know the equipment they are renting since they work with them everyday. Including pictures for every item in these cases would just clog up the document and serve no added value. If you would like to use images, you can include “impressions” of the type of event you will do at the bottom of your document. These impressions help to show off your skills and what you are capable of.
However, if you often rent to customers outside of the industry (for example with party rentals or corporate events), using pictures can help your customer visualize the entire set-up. For example, when throwing a party, you probably want to include images of the set-up of tables & chairs, place settings, drapes, etc. Listing each individual chair, knife and fork just won’t have the same value for your customer.
Choose your terminology
Your customer’s technical background will also determine the terminology you use in your documents. Since not everyone you do business with will be from the industry, when quoting or invoicing to these types of customers, it might be best to use generic rather than technical terms. By using plainer language in these instances, you can remove any confusion on what you are actually providing for your customers.
For example, instead of listing that you will provide “1 x Pioneer DJM900 NXS2 DJ Mixer, 1 x Pioneer CDJ2000 NXS2 Tabletop CD Player and 1 x Shure SM58 Microphone” on a quote, say instead you will provide a “DJ Kit”. This is a simpler term that explains the service those equipment items will perform.
Of course, this isn’t necessary when dryhiring or subrenting to colleagues in the industry. In those cases, using technical terms is important. We therefore recommend adding multiple naming options to your equipment records to track both the technical and generic names of your equipment so you can easily quote and invoice to a wide audience.
Stick with a consistent structure to cover the basics
Your ultimate goal with most of your customer facing documents is to communicate with or gain approval/payment from your customer. Because of this, it is important to create documents that have a clear and concise structure. Your customers must be able to quickly scan your documents and directly understand the service provided without feeling like they are reading a novel.
Make sure that your client gets a good idea of the value you can provide and that it is worth paying for. Information that makes their decision easier needs to pop off the page at a glance. To maximize your success rates we believe that a quote or invoice should be split into three essential parts:
- Header: This part of the quote is meant to cover your company information, your client’s information and document information such as dates, numbers and versions.
- Body: Use this section to provide a timeline, the specific services offered and products that are provided along with their associated costs. Make sure to include any additional costs that are incurred throughout the project here as well.
- Summary: The summary should include pricing totals for all services provided. These totals should also specify any taxes applicable. Lastly, make sure to also include your terms and conditions so your customer knows everything to expect from doing business with you.
Style your documents
Add your logo & company information
While the actual content of your documents plays a large part in communicating with your customer, you shouldn’t forget about adding a professional design and image to the document you are going to send.
The best way to begin is by creating a letterhead to include in all of your documents. A letterhead typically consists of a header and footer with your company logo, name, and address along with a set of colors from your branding. Adding a letterhead to your documents, no matter if it's a quote, contract, invoice, or even packing list, communicates professionalism to whoever is reading it.
We recommend designing your letterhead using software like Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, or Canva. Microsoft Word has standard paper sizes in most versions and you can enter your logo, company information, and corporate identity designs directly in the right spot on the page. Adding a letterhead to your documents is the first way that Rentman tackles the style of your documents.
Keep your formatting consistent
Of course, having your logo and brand colors on your letterhead is important but you also need to ensure that your brand identity is consistent throughout your documents. By keeping things consistent, you are communicating professionalism once again. Just like the elements you used in your letterhead, your fonts and colors should be present throughout your documents. If you prefer a certain font, then stick to it! (Although, we certainly hope you don’t prefer comic sans 😨)
In most software, you have options to apply styles instead of manually adjusting fonts, font sizes, and colors. In Microsoft Word and Google Docs, you can select if the text is a paragraph, a title, or heading to ensure the right styles get applied. In Rentman, you can create your own styles and apply them with one click to all types of documents. This makes it easy to ensure that your branding and formatting are consistent throughout your documents. If you need assistance getting your formatting just right, we have a document editing service where we can help you create your documents in Rentman for a fee. Contact the Rentman support team for more information.
Let your customer sign and pay digitally
Your content and branding are of course the most important aspects of your documents. However, it’s also worth looking into options that help your customers approve or pay for your services even easier.
The most common and important digital tools to implement are electronic signatures and digital payments. These can both simplify and speed up how your clients accept quotations and pay their invoices. By utilizing tools that most of your clients will already be used to from online shopping you can increase your chances of getting that quote signed and your invoices paid in time.
The benefits of taking these interactions online:
- Simplicity: The biggest benefit of electronic signatures or online payments is that they are extremely easy to use.
- Speed: By using electronic signatures and payments you can heavily speed up the turnaround time for them. The party to which you have sent the document can sign or pay from anywhere and on any device as long as there is an active internet connection.
- Automation: When you take these processes online, more parts of the process can become automated. For example, copies of digital signatures can be automatically saved and sent to customers as a receipt. With online payments, your invoices are automatically marked as paid. This frees up your time to focus on more important things.
At Rentman, you can easily offer electronic signatures on your documents and style the links to be in line with your branding. You can also use Stripe or Mollie to provide a multitude of payment options. Stripe, for example, takes payments in over 135+ currencies.
Create reusable templates for all occasions
There may be occasions where more or less information is needed in your documents and you don’t want to waste time by making adjustments each time. For example, some clients might want to see every single line item while others are fine with a general summary of all provided products and services. In addition to that, you yourself know best which clients require certain information more than others.
To help with that, it is advisable to set up a variety of re-usable document templates that you can automatically fill with basic project information each time. This is particularly useful if your business serves a variety of events such as: corporate, party, concerts, etc. Corporate events might require more detailed information than party events. In Rentman, you can find a library of document templates for various processes and also create and customize your own.
Use Rentman to bring your documents to the next level
Rentman is a tailor-made software that helps you plan equipment, crew, and transport for a variety of events. Not only does Rentman help track your resources but you can also create and customize documents like quotes, invoices, packing slips, subrental requests, and crew schedules. Start a free 30 day trial of Rentman to take your documents and planning to the next level.