This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.
For many Pros at this time of year, considering whether to expand your wedding business is a very real decision. The opportunity for more potential profits can lead even the most experienced of Pros astray, into new territory where they shouldn’t be. One of the best ways I’ve heard used to describe the right way to expand your business is to “stay in your lane.” What a great, succinct way to point out what’s been going on in our industry.
As I see it, there are two kinds of expansion: that which makes sense (even if I wouldn’t make the same choice), and that which dilutes your brand and diminishes the quality of your core service. Decor companies offering lighting makes sense to me. Florists offering candy buffets, venues offering invitations, and DJs offering photobooths, not so much.
(I’ve actually thought about which makes less sense — a vendor offering two completely different services, or those huge clearinghouse companies that practically offer a “wedding in a box.” That’s probably a subject for another post, though.)
I’m not totally against expansion. As an entrepreneur at heart, I’m actually all about business ventures that are smart, logical, and executable. What I am against, though, is business owners who, rather than closely examining the deficiencies in their primary service, choose to try to move in on someone else’s. (On a side note: I hope that the businesses who keep expanding their reach are at least considering the effect of lost referrals when they turn their business allies into competitors.)
Focusing inward is hard. It’s especially hard when you’re working harder than you want to be and making less money than you need. Harder yet is when you feel like you’ve honestly been doing your best and you’re still not as successful as you’d hoped. I think it’s probably natural to choose instead to chase that new-venture exhilaration and keep adding on services and products in hopes that they will be the silver bullet your business needs. When, in reality, that’s more often the last thing you should be doing. If you aren’t effectively managing your core service well, that’s probably a good predictor of how well your “add-ons” will go.
If you really feel that broadening your services will be beneficial to your business, one effective way I’ve found to do this is to partner with other, reputable Pros in your industry. Many companies are happy to design a custom package, often at a slight discount, for your clients in exchange for the extra business you’ll be sending their way. In the case of my own company, I found that I was occasionally losing business to other DJ companies who were throwing in a photobooth (often a subpar one, in my opinion). Having no interest in offering any product or service in which I wasn’t an expert, I approached the photobooth provider whom I believed to be the industry leader in my area, and put together an exclusive package for our clients. I feel good knowing we can offer this additional service to our clients, without compromising the quality of our core service – music – and while promoting another business I know to be the best. Win/win, right?
There are lots of great resources for directing your focus back to your main business and identifying its strengths and weaknesses before wildly grasping at new services. Figuring out why you aren’t making money, why your image is stale, why your employees/contractors aren’t meeting your expectations, or whatever else is holding you back – well before you embark on a new venture — is absolutely key.
So, yeah, I do believe that most of the time it’s wise to stay in your lane. And if you’re intent on making the switch, at least check your mirrors and know the direction you’re headed (and why you want to go there) first.
This post originally appeared on Jennifer’s blog, Wedding IQ.