Heather’s 6 Steps to Happier, Less Stressed Wedding Clients (Part 2)
Follow up with QC Event School tutor, Heather Vickery, as she gives us more tips on how to keep wedding clients happy and stress-free. Heather 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 missed Part 1, read it here!
Set and maintain clear boundaries
Boundaries are limits that define acceptable behavior. As it relates to business, boundaries can be set with co-workers, clients and yourself. By putting boundaries in place, you confirm your place of power in any situation, instill confidence and retain control of your schedule and interactions with others. Boundaries enable you to manage expectations which make for smoother relationships, even with yourself!
This can mean a lot of different things to each of us. One of my personal favorites is having very firm boundaries around my work hours. I have set myself up to be able to take my kids to and from school and “close up shop” before leaving to pick them up. That means my office hours are 10am-3pm. It means that when an email comes in after those hours, I do not feel guilty about waiting until the next day to respond to it.
Now, I often work nights and weekends but I never respond to clients during off hours. I use an email delay system like Boomerang to set my emails up to send when business hours resume. This system allows me to manage my time and still stay within my boundaries as far as my clients can see.
To learn more about what boundaries are, how to set them and properly implement them, you can read this article and download the free Boundary Blueprint. It is a wonderful tool to help you get started on this all-important process.
Ok, so we have talked about the importance of setting boundaries — but they mean nothing if you do not clearly communicate them with your clients!
People cannot give you want you want if they don’t know what it is. Nor can you give clients what they want and need if you don’t know what it is. Communication is the problem solver here. Have solid office hours and list them in a welcome email that clearly states them. Have a proprietary planning process when on-boarding new clients and communicate that to them in the beginning stages of your planning.
This goes a step beyond communication. Let clients know when they can expect something from you. Vagueness is your enemy. Owe them a list of vendors or a timeline? Tell them “I will have this to you within a week” or whatever your timing dictates.
Do not leave things to the imagination. If you do, their imagination will tell them to expect something from you instantly. I find this is particularly true when it comes to venue searches. This is a time-consuming process but clients don’t really know that. I always warn my clients that it may take up to two weeks to gather all of the necessary information for presentation.
If you will be out of pocket for a day or are heading on vacation, send a personal email letting them know and remind them with your out of office responder. But don’t just stop there! Be sure to communicate when they can expect a response from you. Are you checking email once a day, once a week or not at all until you return? What should they do in case of an emergency (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t happen — wedding planning is not brain surgery)?
Every step of the planning process should be managed by you, the wedding planner. Your clients will look to you for action plans, advice and follow through. Arming them with knowledge and managing their expectations keeps everyone calm, cool and collected.
Always follow through
This one is simple and it applies to everything mentioned above. Do what you say you are going to do. Always. No matter what. If for any reason, you are unable to follow through, then quickly and articulately let the clients know that you need to shift your commitment. Do not make excuses and do not cast blame. State the facts as they are and re-commit with a new plan. It is not the thinking of things that matters, it is in the doing of things. Do what you say you are going to do.
Sometimes, in event and wedding planning, we see some very strong personalities, perhaps even some difficult personalities. If you implement the steps listed above, you will wow those hard to impress clients – and we all know that happy clients lead to new clients.