5 Ways to NOT Kill Your Event Planning Business: Part 1
QC tutor Heather Vickery is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.
If you are not doing these 5 things, you could be killing your business.
I have been an entrepreneur for 14 years and have been planning weddings and events for nearly 20. I have learned more than a few things in that timeframe which I utilize in my second business where I coach entrepreneurs on business systems, strategies and boundaries for success. In this post you will see five things that are so essential to your business that if you are not doing them, you could completely kill your business—or at the very least drive yourself insane.
The number one thing that I personally believe can make or break you as a planner is managing expectations. Not just your client’s expectations but also the expectations for your vendors and for yourself. Think about it: if you meet with a potential client and say, “Great! I will send over a proposal,” but don’t tell them when to expect it, they are tapping their toes within a few hours and you look like you lack follow-through. However, something as simple as saying “I will have this proposal to you by the end of next week” lets your clients know what to expect and they are able to wait patiently. Even if they are not patient, you can respond with a reminder of your timeframe, such as saying “I indicated upfront I would have something to you by the end of next week. I am still on track for that.”
This same logic applies to the vendors you work with. In many cases they need things from you to do your job or vice versa. Having the confidence to ask “when should we expect this from you?” makes you sound professional and gives you the information you need to keep your clients happy. Asking questions is a good thing!
Last but not least, managing expectations is really important for your sanity and personal space. By being clear about what you expect from clients and what they can expect from you, you are setting boundaries that will stay with you throughout the entire planning process. One really important way to do this is by managing your clients’ expectations of your time. Give them solid work hours and do not respond outside of those hours, barring an emergency. Don’t email or answer calls after hours. Just like with anything else, if someone knows they can take advantage of you—they likely will! Do not leave room for that.
Business Structures and Boundaries
In order to be able to fully manage expectations, it is crucial to have proper business structures and boundaries in place. This means that if you have not already taken the time to sit down and map out your business plan, stop everything you are doing and get this done! Below are just a few items that you absolutely must have in order, if you want to be an effective business leader:
- Solid work hours
- Apps that ensure you work smarter and not harder (like Google’s Boomerang, shared folders that are kept in the cloud, great accounting software)
- A customized email address
- A consistent, organized and clean place to work
- A well-designed and well-run website
- A solid social media presence
- A welcome letter to new clients so they know what to expect from you and when
- A sense from your clients of how they want to be contacted (email, phone, text) and what is the best time to connect with them