» 5 Questions Couples Should Ask Wedding Pros (But Don’t)

As the wedding professional, each time you meet with a new couple, you’re the expert. Chances are, they haven’t hosted a wedding before, and their level of expertise with pulling off an event of this size extends only to being a member of someone else’s wedding party. With this in mind, your potential clients’ questions will likely be most focused on the aesthetics of bringing their wedding vision to life, which is great! However, it’s your job as the expert to be sure your couples are well-informed about some of the oft-forgotten aspects of hiring you.

Here are a few questions you’ll want to be sure to answer, even if your client doesn’t know or doesn’t remember to ask.

Can you describe your style?/Can I see some of your work? This one is a bit tricky, as most likely your potential client has seen photos of your weddings on WeddingWire and may have even popped over to your Instagram profile to check out more of your aesthetic. Even with that being the case, you want to take the opportunity to describe and show your style, why you approach your work the way you do and how you help couples visions come to life. This is also an opportunity for you to tailor your portfolio to your couple. For example, if you know they’re planning a rustic wedding, pull out some examples of rustic weddings you’ve done in the past. If you know they’re going for a modern, trendy wedding look, show that you’ve created those kinds of weddings as well.

Do you have a list of preferred vendors? Unless you’re a wedding venue, chances are you don’t have hard-and-fast lists of wedding professionals with which you strongly prefer to work. Still, if you’re a photographer who has done a dozen weddings with a great videographer, it’s worth mentioning. If you’re a wedding planner who has a couple of florists who seamlessly pull your vision to life, let your potential client know. One of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning can be sourcing a team of wedding professionals, so helping your clients by recommending great pros who work well with each other is worthwhile. You’ll need to bring this up, as your potential client may not be aware that wedding pros frequently work together.

What other fees am I expected to cover? Most likely, your potential client is looking at the “base” price to determine how your services will fit into their wedding budget, but there might be other, smaller fees that they should be aware of. These are highly dependent on the service category, but could include overtime fees, setup and/or delivery fees, breakdown fees and any number of practical costs for your additional services, time or equipment. Once your client has chosen which service they’d like, be sure to mention fees that you know they’ll incur, as well as any optional fees that might come into effect (like overtime).

Can I review this contract with my parents, future-in-laws or anyone else who is paying for it? Sometimes, the entire family will come for a venue tour or a cake tasting. Other times, only the couple or maybe even only one member of the couple will meet you for the initial visit. However, most weddings involve a whole team of people who are making decisions and fronting the costs. For this reason, it’s important to try to suss out who the important stakeholders might be for each client and try to be on the up-and-up with those people as well. So, if you know your couple’s flowers are being paid for by a groom’s mother, be sure she’s involved before the contract is signed. Not only will this likely make the wedding planning process easier for your clients, but you’ll be working toward a more satisfied client once the service is complete.
Who will be my 24/7 contact person? If you’re a one-person business, this is an easy thing to mention to your new clients. If you’re a larger business with a separate team to handle sales and events, this is trickier. No matter the structure of your business, you want to be sure your client knows who will be their point person throughout the planning along with who will be the point person for other wedding pros they will hire in the future. As the wedding approaches, you may want to offer a few different ways to get in touch — maybe a text or email after hours — so that as things pop up, your client feels comfortable letting you know about them.

» How and When to Start Expanding for Business Growth

Business growth means something different to everyone but, in most cases, it’s a step in the right direction. However, it’s important that a company’s growth comes at the right time in order to be successful; otherwise, you may find that your company is growing faster than your schedule and financial resources can afford.

For this reason, it’s important for business owners to map out their growth plan so they have an idea of when and how they will be able to accommodate the added work that comes with a next-level business. The decision to grow is not one to be taken lightly, so come into your development with an open mind and a step-by-step plan.

If you’ve thought hard about it and decided that growing your business is the direction you want to take, you’ll want to be sure to have a team on hand to guide you throughout the transition. Even if you’re a solopreneur, don’t feel like you have to do this alone. Start by finding a business coach who can help you develop your next step (whether it’s bringing on employees or adding a new service), while still maintaining the brand you’ve worked so hard to create. An accountant and/or financial advisor are other great additions to have on the team, as you will see a change in your finances and will need to ensure your solvency.

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Prior to expanding your business in any way, it’s important to be sure your business has policies and procedures in place to ensure things run smoothly and consistently regardless of where you are in your journey. For example, if you plan on bringing on new team members, have an onboarding guide in place to help them through the first few weeks of their employment.

Even if bringing on employees isn’t a part of your plan, chances are it will be a decision down the line if your business continues to grow. One person can only do so much! Once you’ve gathered more clients or are offering more services, it may make sense to hire an assistant to help you with the business administration side of things.

As your company develops, be sure that you are open and honest about changes with your industry peers, as well as your clients. Transparency is the key to building trust among your network, so don’t think about launching a new product or starting a side-hustle without communicating your intentions to your target audiences.

With some careful planning and a lot of honest ambition, you are sure to push your business to the next level in no time! Remember that everyone’s timeline is different, so don’t feel pressured by competitors or other companies in your industry. Growth should be organic, so stick to what feels right.

This post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

» What to Do If You (Accidentally) Double Book Clients

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It happens to the best of us. You’re so excited to work with a new client that you say an enthusiastic “yes!” before realizing that you already have a client commitment that day. An accidental double book is easy to stumble into, particularly when you have a sudden surge in interest from potential clients. So, don’t worry, here’s how to fix it, if you do find yourself double-booked.

 

1. Find someone who is available.
The most important thing to do is to take care of the client you inadvertently said “yes” to. As soon as you figure out you can’t service their wedding, let them know. But, it’s not enough to just say, “sorry,” you also should go the extra step and find someone who is available on that day. This is where you reach into your trusty bag of fellow wedding professionals who are fantastic, message around for someone who is available and arrange a replacement. Of course, it’s up to your client if they decide to book the replacement, but you want to do the legwork for them.

 

2. Make it right.
Depending on your service category, it’s a great gesture of goodwill to offer something to the person who you’ve bumped from your calendar. This could be sending a nice floral arrangement, if you’re a florist; offering to snap rehearsal dinner photos at a discounted rate if you’re a photographer or some other service of value to the couple as they’re wedding planning. Besides showing that you’re apologetic, it can help to mitigate any damage to your reputation with the couple (and their network of friends, family and co-workers who might hear the story of the wedding pro who cancelled).

 

3. Prevent snafus in the future.
Business challenges are the best learning experiences for the future. Once you’ve double-booked once, you will probably never do it again, because you’ll have the distinct memory of this experience as your teacher. To make sure you’re keeping up with your calendar, try to get into the habit of writing down and scheduling all of the tasks needed to service a client—not just the hours you’ll be on-site for the event. This can include site visits, walk-throughs, meeting with other vendors who will be working on the event, creating mood boards or inspiration palettes, editing after the fact or a myriad of other events, depending on your service category. Think about the total time commitment of each client, and be realistic with how long it will take you to dedicate yourself to that wedding. This will help you have a good idea of when you are actually available for a wedding and when you’re really not.

 

4. Consider forming a partnership or collective.
Creative professionals thrive on collaboration, so why not consider sharing the load by creating a partnership or team of professionals in your service category? Beyond being a sounding board for ideas and expanding your network, these professionals might be helpful when you have a great client who you just don’t have the time to take on. Having a group of professionals with the same standards, a similar aesthetic and creative approach is the best-case scenario for a couple that needs to replace a wedding pro who has accidentally double-booked.

» The Business Case for Being an Open Book

While it may seem prudent to hold all of your secrets close, there’s a certain level of respect that comes with a company that prides itself in transparency. However, being an open book isn’t as easy as simply blasting your latest company news on Facebook. Transparency is rooted in a deep regard for competitors and industry peers. The aim is to foster open communication.

 

So, what exactly does it mean to be an open book?

Be open with what’s going on in your company—both good or bad. In the past, I’ve earned business simply by letting people know we were low on bookings when other planners were already booked for their date. At the same time, it means being open with clients, competitors and the rest of your network about changes that may affect them, like the addition of a new staff member or a new product in stock.

 

What’s the ideal relationship with competitors?

It can be tough to open up to other companies that share your ideals and target the same prospective clients. However, with a positive attitude, two competing companies can work together to share best practices for their specialty. This can be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Don’t worry about losing clients to a competitor. In fact, don’t even think about them as competitors. In the wedding industry, there will always be engaged couples looking to book. In our market, we have a group of planners that meet quarterly to discuss our goals, share resources and encouragement. We are always happy to celebrate someone else’s successes!

 

What should you keep to yourself?

Although it’s great to be transparent about company changes and major goals, there are some things you’ll want to keep to yourself. For example, if you’re having problems with an employee or another vendor, be cautious about sharing too many details. Keep people’s names and reputations out of it and, if you must ask for advice, do so anonymously.

When it comes down to it, it’s entirely up to you how transparent you are with your company. Just know that clients, creative partners, staff and everyone else will respect your commitment to openness and honesty.

 

This post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

» Bridging Differences for Business Growth

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kathryn-hamm-2016This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

It’s the time of year that your phones are buzzing and your inbox is filling with new leads from happy couples, ready to finalize a wedding date and and all of the services they’ll need to design a celebration they’ll remember forever.  So, before engagement season comes to an end, be sure you’re ready to serve all potential clients—even the ones who may differ from you.

 

Start With A Self-Audit

Since we’re early in the season, let’s think about setting the stage for growth and begin with a quick self-audit. As your leads roll in, what patterns are you noticing? Collectively speaking, are the inquiries following patterns of years’ past? Are you having conversations with couples that follow the same trajectory of questions? Are the couples with whom you are meeting booking you for their weddings at a higher or lower rate than in previous years?

These are all important questions, which have been addressed in various ways by my EDU peers, to help you consider the efficiency of your business. And, now, more than ever, the WeddingWire Storefront for wedding professionals offers many robust tools to get answers to some of these reflective, data-based questions.

 

Consider Your Inclusivity, Part One

On the question of becoming more inclusive of same-sex couples, how’s that going for you? Are you looking at the leads you’re generating from same-sex couples and evaluating your success? Are you booking those couples? Where are those leads coming from? Are they satisfied with your service? Or are you not getting any inquiries from same-sex couples?

Before you get overly critical about the results of your efforts to be more inclusive of same-sex couples, please allow me to suggest a rough measure by which to judge your efficacy: recent research suggests that roughly 4-7% of the population identifies as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). Thus, it’s reasonable to set a goal for yourself to have 5-10% of your overall inquiries be represented by same-sex couples and 5-10% of your overall contracts to be represented by same-sex couples. When you think about your current track record and projections for 2017, how do your efforts measure up to that rough indicator?

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Consider Your Inclusivity, Part Two

My advice to you as you begin to challenge your old assumptions for growth in 2017 and not to, don’t just stop at being inclusive of same-sex couples. Have you considered what religious faiths seem most likely to book your services? What about couples of a different racial or ethnic group than the majority of you and/or your staff? For those of you who’ve been in the market since the days that we used phone calls and paper instead of text messages and electronic contracts, what sort of communications and success are you having with Millennial couples?

Challenging your assumptions, asking questions about what your first impulse is when marketing to and interacting with prospective clients, and taking steps to expand your comfort zone might result in broadening your business and solving a problem (that is a limitation to your ROI) you didn’t realize you had.

 

Bridging Beyond Discomfort

Ready for a deeper dive into converting a self-audit and openness to inclusivity to the next level? Begin by asking yourself these questions: When you open your inbox and see an inquiry from someone with a name you can’t easily pronounce or if you realize you can’t determine the gender of the person, what do you do next? When you meet a prospective client with a visible disability or encounter a language barrier, what do you? When a client identifies themselves to you as queer, how do you react?

Ultimately, it’s important to ask yourself if your well-intentioned concern about a lack of information or discomfort with someone unfamiliar to you negatively informs how you respond. You might find that you feel uncomfortable and less sure of yourself in a conversation, creating an awkwardness that interferes with the relationship. You might take longer to reply as you worry about what to do, thus reducing the chance that the inquiry advances. You might avoid asking the questions you normally would or give advice as you would because you are afraid you will say the wrong thing.

Many of you have shared stories like this with me. Sometimes, it’s clear that you have work to do. You need to have more conversations, continue to educate yourself and potentially even practice with some situation-specific role playing with colleagues you trust. But, sometimes, I find that many of you are open, are working hard to be inclusive but are so afraid of making a mistake that you silence yourself.

In either case, the best advice I can offer you is to listen with love, lead with love and serve with love. Approaching that which is unfamiliar to you with kindness and respect and without placing the burden on the people with whom you are unfamiliar to teach you is always the best way to go.

 

In Sum

It is critical that you prioritize what you know how to do and do well. That you are an expert in your set of services. That you are clear in how you define who you are and what you do. That you are clear on what the value is of those services you offer. That you know the rhythms of your local market. That you nurture and recruit new clients who are a good match for what your business offers. In these cases, working with strength within your comfort zone is key to a successful business.

But, I’m never one to rest on yesterday’s success. And I hope you aren’t either. I think it’s worth breaking out of your comfort zone and bridging into the unfamiliar to grow your business.

A true self-audit of your opinions, attitudes and comfort, along with an audit of the ROI on your business efforts these past few years, may tell the best story on the kind of growth you need to expand your business efforts and where best to get started. 

I wish you luck and I welcome your stories of success and setback!

» 4 Easy Ways to Reduce Distractions at Appointments

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This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

These days it often seems like everyone is busier than ever, with shorter attention spans.  Knowing this may be true for your clients, it’s your job to keep appointments focused and distractions to a minimum. This advice goes for everything from the physical design and décor of your meeting space, to the background and lighting.

Customize your space for your audience.

If your business has multiple audiences for weddings, corporate parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, even funerals, it’s a good idea to have a way to change the visuals when you meet with them. When a bar mitzvah parent is coming in for a meeting, they should be seeing bar mitzvah art on the walls, bar mitzvah videos playing on your TVs and bar mitzvah images on your printed collateral materials. The same goes for your other audiences. I’ve seen quite a few wedding pros’ offices that use flat screen TVs instead of printed photos, so they can change the imagery. So, unless you’re the photographer, and you’re selling large printed and framed photos, you can try this, too. You can put a nice picture frame around the TV to make it look and feel more like artwork.

How do they see it?

Sit where they will sit and see what’s in their line of sight that might be a distraction. Is there a large window behind you with distracting movement of people, or vehicles? Are there any maintenance items that need to be addressed, from dusting, to spider webs, to touching up paint and fixing broken ceiling tiles? Looking at it from their perspective is one of the things I do when I come for an on-site training. You can’t see it the way that they do, because you see it every day, another example of the Curse of Knowledge.

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Say what?

Are there sounds coming from outside or adjacent rooms that might be a distraction? Here’s another area where you don’t get credit for getting it right, but you lose points for getting it wrong. No one will thank you for reducing the distractions, but they’ll notice when it’s too noisy, dogs barking, babies crying, and when there are people talking or playing music loudly in the next room. Actually, that wasn’t totally correct. You will get thanked in the form of additional business by getting it right.

Give them your undivided attention.

While you’re in an appointment, and I know this sounds obvious, but don’t take phone calls, check your smartphone, or email. It’s rude and it shows them that they’re less important than whatever else you’re doing. When you’re the customer, you don’t like that, so, unless someone close to you is about to have a baby, or come out of surgery, silence your devices, and tell you staff (if you have a staff) not to interrupt you unless it relates to this customer. Most of our communication is non-verbal. People believe what they see more than what they hear, and your actions speak volumes. Giving them your undivided attention is key to gaining their trust. I’ve said this already, but it’s worth mentioning again; people buy from people they know, like and trust.

» How to Make the Most of Engagement Season

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While other business owners may delight in the pre-holiday or back-to-school shopping seasons, the undisputed champ of sales for wedding professionals is engagement season. WeddingWire calculates that about 40% of couples who will be engaged in the next 12 months will do so between November and February.

These quick best practices will help you maximize this crucial time and set yourself up for a productive wedding season.

Freshen up your online presence: Couples these days are accustomed to shopping for services online, so it’s uber-important to put your best foot forward across the Web. That includes your website, social media, WeddingWire storefront and even your email signature. Be sure your branding is consistent throughout and that you make it as easy as possible to contact you. Don’t force couples to hunt for your email or social networks—be sure this is on the very first page of your website. Have a couple of friends put fresh eyes on your sites and social media to be sure you don’t have any broken links, confusing wording or blurry images.

Audit your social: While we’re on the subject, now isn’t the time to neglect your social media accounts! Couples will often use your social media to not only see some of your most recent work, but also get a feel for your personality. They’re looking for partners on their wedding day, not just someone to come in, provide a service and leave. With that said, don’t be a robot on social. Share your best photos, but also share what drew you to the couple, what you loved about the day or why that particular photo is one of your favorites. Be sure to get permission from couples to share and tag them (as well as the rest of the vendor team) if they’re also on social media.

Keep your calendar up-to-date: As couples are reaching out to you for consultations, they’ll want to know that you’re available for their wedding date and location. Take a few minutes to fill in your calendar with as many details as you can about your upcoming wedding season, including building in time for site visits, travel and administrative tasks as needed. While it’s great to be busy, you don’t want to lose business because you’ve incorrectly estimated the time commitment for future clients.

Consider an auto-email feature: In a rapid response world, sometimes 24 to 48 hours just won’t do. As couples fill out your contact form during engagement season, it might be best to automate an email that instantly responds. Beyond showing that you’re responsive right away, use this email to smartly promote your social channels, work that you’re most proud of or even an awesome piece of wedding planning content you really love. Give it some personality, but be sure it’s short, sweet and helping you meet your business goals.

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Prove your credibility: It’s one thing for you to say you’re amazing, efficient and easy to work with, but it’s a whole other thing for someone else to say it. That’s why so many couples rely on business reviews before contacting potential wedding professionals. Make it a goal to amass at least five additional reviews from couples and other professionals you’ve recently worked with this engagement season. Don’t be shy about asking for them—newlyweds love to talk about their wedding and you were an important part of why it was so special!

Nail your first impression: Once you’ve set up a time to meet with a potential client, the real work of engagement season begins. Chances are, the couple’s had a chance to peruse your social media, your website and your storefront, so return the favor by learning a little about the couple as well. Check out their social media profiles if you can, and look into any information they may have included in their emails to you—the type of wedding they’d like, what they enjoyed about your work, their venue, etc. Be prepared to discuss the latest wedding trends in your industry and show a curated collection of your recent projects. So, if you know the couple will be wed at a fancy downtown hotel, don’t show up with a portfolio full of barn weddings you’ve done and vice versa.

Learn even more about how to nail engagement season with this fact sheet.

» I Run the Company: What Does That Look Like?

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Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events Group

This post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

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When you start your own business, it can be a bit of an adjustment to figure out your workflow. Since you’re running the show, you have to handle a lot of the administration and business development, and it’s essential to find a happy balance in your day-to-day work.

For me, running my company means that I’m not a major part of the event planning and team management. I don’t go into the office to work on weddings, as I now have other projects that I am working on, so my time is spent working on ways to further grow the company.

One of the biggest lessons to learn when running your own business is the art of delegation. When you have a team that you can trust to handle the routine work, it makes your life that much easier, and you’ll find that you can be more productive spending on business development. It’s really difficult to grow and expand if you’re always in the trenches.

Having a solid team is the key to being a great business owner. Your goal should be to have at least several full-time employees who can handle the bulk of the work and assign additional tasks to part-time employees and/or interns.

With that said, it is still necessary to check in regularly with your team. Their work speaks to your company’s brand, so take some time to stay up-to-date on what everyone is working on and make sure that you are reachable in case of emergency. We have regular staff meetings where everyone discusses their current projects – these are a great way to ensure that we are all on the same page.

Outside the office, use your time wisely and look for resources to help maximize your time spent on business development. New projects can sometimes be overwhelming, so employ to-do lists and block scheduling to simplify your tasks and stay organized. Consider sharing your techniques with your team as well – leading by example is one of the best ways to create a cohesive and streamlined environment for all.

As a business owner, you’ll find that you have a number of new responsibilities as you leave behind some of the more routine tasks. While it can seem stressful at times, it can also be quite a fun challenge – it is your brainchild, so have fun with it!

» WedInsights Recap to Boost Your Business Success in 2017

As we enter 2017, it’s important to start planning for the upcoming wedding season and beyond. Besides preparing for upcoming events, dedicate some time to assess your business and find ways to make improvements.

For many pros, a more successful year can mean focusing on a stronger online presence through social media or an improved mobile website. For others, it’s acquiring new customers or finding ways to make their marketing dollars go furtherRegardless of your specific goals, one thing is certain: you must know your customers and understand their wants and needs during the planning process to make the best adjustments to your business — and we are here to help!

Throughout the year, our Consumer Insights & Research Team conducts studies with thousands of engaged and newlywed couples nationwide to assemble the latest in industry and consumer data. Our findings are available to download for free anytime at WedInsights.com. Each volume, one-pager, report or infographic is filled with actionable insights designed to help your business grow and succeed!

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View some of the most popular WedInsights:

Check back often for new reports as we’ll continue to add new topics each month. Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email us and let us know!

» Easy Ways to Show Appreciation in the New Year

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

show-appreciation-giftAlmost every wedding professional is busy, and in your fast-paced world it can be easy to quickly move on to the next task or event. However, it’s important to take the time to thank the people you work with and show your appreciation for their help, referrals, support or even business and act with gratitude.

New year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to focus on sharing your gratitude more frequently. These ideas make it easy to share your appreciation daily to the people who impact your life and business.

Referrals:

The next time a potential client mentions you were referred by another professional, make sure you take a moment to say ‘thank you!’ It can be as simple as a quick text or email, and will be appreciated. For bonus points, consider sending a handwritten postcard or thank you note.

When you actually book the event, it’s a plus to send another acknowledgement, such as a written note. Finally, when the event is complete and you’ve received a review or thank you from the client, a note with a copy of client-praise shows you have earned the referral, and will help encourage them to send more clients your way! Always return the favor quickly to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Gifts:

IRS regulations and company policies generally limit gifts to less than $25. At first blush, $25 doesn’t seem like a lot of money; however, personalizing the gift is a great way to make it special. For example, giving personalized thank you notes with the name of each client is a strong way to make your point.

On one occasion I attended a presentation by an author. Her talk was titled The Art of The Business Lunch’. The author, Robin Jay, had also attended a seminar I gave on blogging. I gave her a book on blogging, called, ‘Nobody cares what you had for lunch.’ The reaction was massive! Anyone could use a book as a thank you. Music is another interesting way to make a connection. When people fill out Facebook profiles, they often indicate their music preferences. Rather than just a gift card, pick an artist your peer or client has listed as a favorite.

Membership Awareness:

You don’t have to be the membership chair to recognize the presence or absence of people from meetings at local groups or for industry associations. If a person who you sat with was particularly interesting, then just drop them a quick note and tell them. This is great way to naturally expand your network! If a person was missing in action, let them know they were missed.

Acknowledging Staff:

When one of your employees has performed ‘above and beyond,’ it’s a great to not only tell them personally but to write a note or send a small token as an added bonus for their hard work. Meetings are a great opportunity to acknowledge staff members by telling stories about their successes. Whether it is making a sale, saving a sale, or performing other client magic, a public thank you has maximum impact on great work.

Anticipation:

A week ahead of the wedding, send the wedding couple a note explaining what a privilege it is to work for them and how you ‘can’t wait for the wedding day’. That will set an amazing tone that not only are you a quality wedding pro, but that you really care about their individual day and appreciate their business.

The same thing is true for the other wedding pros you will be working with. If you plan to work with someone closely that day, make sure you do the research to know who the person is, and express your appreciation in advance for any help they will provide for you to do your job well. This is not the norm – and will make a great impression!

Overall, remember that it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to demonstrate your appreciation, and it can make a significant difference in your likability and your business success! Aim to showcase your appreciation in 2017 to stand out among the crowd to boost your business in the New Year.

» Focus on Your Earnings, Not Savings

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

focus-on-earnings-not-savingsAs we approach the end of another year, it’s often time to reconcile our finances. We need to get our books in order, so we can do our taxes (I know, yuk). Then comes the scramble to find the deductions you qualified for over the year. While doing so, it becomes easy to focus on our expenses. For some of us, it’s time to re-evaluate those expenses as we prepare for the coming year.

These insights will help you get a handle on your financial planning needs and help you take control as you plan for the future!

Expenses vs. Investments

The danger in focusing only on expenses is that you can lose focus on the bigger picture. The only money you can save is the money you spend. It’s a finite amount. You can’t make all of your expenses disappear. You have to buy gas for your car, and pay for telephone service, internet connection, electricity, and more. But those are expenses, not investments. Expenses are things that you pay for, where you don’t expect any return other than what you bought (gas, electricity, phone service, food, etc.).

Investments, on the other hand, are things that may, and the operative word is ‘may’, provide a return that’s greater than the value paid. When you invest in a new employee, you would hope to get more value than what you pay them. When you invest in a new website, you would hope to get more value than the cost of the website. When you invest in advertising and marketing, you would hope to get back more than the value that you pay. When you invest in a new location, you would hope to get back more than you invest.

Opportunity Cost

What you need to focus on is getting the best return. The opportunity cost of not investing is the money you could make if you did. Sometimes, that means doing more than just paying the bill. For instance, if you buy a booth at a wedding show, and don’t take the time to design your booth correctly, and invest in great email/direct mail follow up, and actually do the follow up, you’ll never get the most return from that investment. Similarly, if you take a new office/warehouse space, build it out and decorate it properly, but don’t invest in marketing to let people know about it, you’ll never see the full return.

Go Big, or Go Home

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» Top 10 Business Tips from 2016

december-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

As 2016 comes to a close, it can be helpful to look back on your business success over the past year and consider what learnings you can apply in 2017.  

During this month’s webinar hosted by WeddingWire Senior Director of Customer Experience Ashley Conway, we reviewed her seasonally-themed top 10 business tips based on conversations with numerous wedding professionals this year.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • ‘Tis the Season. Update your Storefront and website with seasonal imagery to keep your photos fresh and capture newly engaged couples’ imaginations.
  • No re-gifting. Avoid showcasing duplicate content on your website, WeddingWire Storefront and other sites, as having identical content in multiple locations hurts your SEO.  Make sure to differentiate your copy, images and reviews across your online presence.
  • Pack on the #s:  Use hashtags strategically in your social media posts to increase your visibility.  Consider adding hashtags as comments on your Instagram posts to reduce clutter in your original posts.
  • Better to give than receive:  Always reply to reviews, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.  Remember that your reply will be seen by potential clients — it’s another chance to impress them.
  • Make a list, check it twice:  Put together a price list, then compare it to your competitors’.  Don’t inadvertently confuse potential customers by offering similarly named packages as other wedding pros that contain different features.

For 5 more tips and additional details about how to leverage these recommendations for success in 2017, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime.