5 Ways to NOT Kill Your Event Planning Business: Part 2
Last week, Heather Vickery of Greatest Expectations told us all about the importance of managing expectations and creating business structures and boundaries—but those were just two of her tips for building an incredible event planning business! Read on for another three things every event planner should be doing.
It is your job, as a planner, to educate your client. They are not experienced when it comes to planning a wedding, you are. When a client comes to you with a very small budget, it is not only your job but also your responsibility to be honest with the clients about how far that budget will, realistically, stretch. I like to be as flexible as possible, and almost never tell a client “that cannot be done.” But I often say “if a strict budget is important to you then we need to figure out what three items you cannot live without and where we can be flexible and cut back—because you cannot have it all for that budget.”
I know that sometimes it feels awkward to have these conversations, but you are doing your clients and yourself a great injustice if you are not straight up about this type of thing. Once the conversation happens, you and your clients know exactly what to expect and how proceed. It also sets you up as the expert. This is important because you do not work for your clients—you work with them! When a couple hires you to be their wedding planner, you become partners in the planning of their wedding. You are an expert and you are being paid for your experience, guidance and knowledge.
Build a Community
Having a solid and supportive community around you is of the utmost importance. I have worked for 20 years to build an amazing networking group of industry professionals. It is all about building personal relationships. Remember, people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
I attend conferences and events with my friends in this community. I participate in social events and we share an outstanding knowledge base. We create amazing styled shoots that help us all experiment with new things and have really creative photos for our portfolios. I depend on these people for referrals and they know that I will not let their clients down. I also have a really amazing group of planner friends. It is my firm belief that a rising tide lifts all boats. There is enough business out there for everyone so I bring my competition into the fold. I ask their advice and share my opinions, when requested. I reach out when my favorite vendors are booked and ask whom they would suggest I contact. In fact, I count some of my dearest friends among this group of planners.
Because of this strong network, I have solid connections all over the world. It enables me to plan events anywhere and it is how I got into destination weddings. If you do nothing else right now, go out and find a way to network with your local industry professionals. I promise you it will make all the difference in your business.
Remember: You’re the Expert!
One key element that all of these things have in common is that they put you in the position of power. Remember that you are the expert! Stop apologizing (“I am sorry but …”) and stop making excuses (“Normally this would not take me so long, but…”). You have been hired because you are the expert and you do not need to tread lightly with clients or vendors. Own your power.
Often, I hear students and coaching clients say they feel like they are “bothering” their clients when they call or email. You are not bothering anyone! You are doing your job and that is why you were hired in the first place. It is time to step up and act like a boss. Stop using words like “just”, “should” and “mean” e.g. “I just think we should move forward with that vendor.”, “I’m sorry but can I ask a question?”, “I mean why won’t that date work for him?”. It makes you sound inexperienced and weak. It undermines your authority and your clients will not only lose respect for you, they will lose confidence in your abilities.
Do not give up your power. I promise clients and vendors alike will be attracted to it—as long as you are kind and respectful along the way.
Being a wedding planner and running your own business is hard work. Taking the time to focus on these five things will help you either kick-start or revitalize your business. Don’t just take my word for it—try it for yourself and then let me know how it goes!