Advice from Athena: How to Start an Event Planning Business (Part 2)
QC Event School graduate and tutor Athena DeVonne owns and runs her own thriving business, Coalesce Creations Wedding & Events, and knows everything there is to know about becoming a successful event planner!
This month, she took to Facebook to give advice about starting an event planning business and answered many aspiring planners’ questions. If you missed out, don’t worry! We’re going to recap some of her viewers’ best questions about getting your event planning business off the ground!
When is the best time to give a quote on your fees to interested clients?
When first starting out, Athena wasn’t too forthcoming with her fees to her clients. She didn’t want the clients to feel she was under- or over-pricing her services. But once she discovered the value of her services, she became comfortable quoting her rates when needed. Her rates may seem high to some clients, but knowing her worth means being confident that other people are willing to pay for her services.
As event and wedding planning services involve multiple steps and added detail, the price can fluctuate as the planning process unfolds. In consideration of this, Athena still wants to be transparent and upfront with her fees to those researching her services. Since she can’t put down a definitive fee, she provides her base prices as a download on her website.
She specifically makes certain to say that “Prices start a $______”. The starting price is enough to cover operating costs and to cover her own planning fees. She communicates to potential clients that she won’t go lower than the listed prices. But it also informs them that the fees may rise depending on each specific client’s needs.
Some factors that could affect the prices of your services:
- Services that are universal: Athena charges the same fixed price for day-of wedding coordination across the board. Variations in price are defined by the number of guests, but they are explicitly stated. She does have an exception for these rates. No matter the number of guests, the price will vary if it’s a cultural wedding. Be clear about any exceptions!
- Full-planning service pricing may fluctuate depending on how much time she has to execute her plans. If a client comes to her last minute to plan a full wedding, she’ll charge a rush-job fee.
Athena advises that the client shouldn’t leave the consultation unaware of the different factors that affect pricing. At the end of the event consultation, they should know how much it’ll cost for all the planning components they want.
How do you stand out in a saturated market?
Athena’s super honest about this part. The truth is, you’ll be offering the same services as the next planner. This, therefore, translates to having competitive prices and having just-as-gorgeous marketing materials. If your physical products and listed services are the same, how do you stand out? Athena was clear and succinct: Be you!
Communicate your true value and personality to potential clients. Athena personally attributes her success with clients to the way she shows off her personality. On her social media accounts, she’s sure to show off behind-the-scenes work as well as her own personal style and interests. When you make yourself relatable, you’ll have an easier time connecting with potential clients compared to less personable businesses.
Her personal example:
She once had a client who wrote her a $75,000 check the day they met. The reason? Her company colors matched what the client had envisioned for her wedding colors. She also liked the items Athena hulled on her social media. In short, she built her social media brand to attract the clients she wanted!
Can you charge a kickback fee to your client for vendor coordination?
A kickback fee, or consultation fee, is when you apply a surcharge on your vendors’ fees to your client. Yes, you can certainly charge this fee. The catch is that you must then charge it for every one of your clients moving forward. You can’t go back and forth between following that pricing structure and not. Clients talk. You don’t want clients discovering that they were subject to different fees!
Athena warns that this fee structure will change your tax bracket as your income is now their entire wedding budget. You’ll have to let your clients know that you charge a percentage kickback fee on top of all the vendors. This type of pricing structure is common in the corporate event planning world. However, it’s not universally adopted in the wedding industry. To see if it’s for you, research it. Find out whether this structure is prevalent in your area and decide if you’re comfortable charging it!
Want to hear her answers yourself? Check out the Facebook Webinar we’re recapping in this post!