» Ready, Set, Startup: Considerations When Starting Your Wedding Business

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis 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.

Let me start with a disclaimer: I will not be telling you how to create, plan, or market your business since that process is different for everyone, depending on what kind of business you want to start and your goals. Instead, I’ll point you in the right direction of finding those answers and getting everything settled.

No matter the idea, I am here to tell you that it can be done – I promise!

Ready, Set, Startup: Considerations When Starting Your Wedding BusinessWhat’s In a Name?

At this point, you should already have a good understanding of what you want to do and who your target audience is. With that in mind, think about what kind of name best suits your company. While it may seem natural to use your name, consider whether you’ll want to grow or sell your business one day. If so, stay away from using your name as it may equate with a personal brand, rather than something that can be transferred to other team members or potential buyers.

Your business name also defines what you do. If you’re interested in planning all types of events, don’t pigeonhole yourself by including the word ‘weddings’ in your name because it may deter corporate or social prospects. I also advise to stay away from words like “perfect,” “greatest,” and the like – you don’t want to have that one customer tell you that their day was not perfect.

Once you have a list of potential names, test them out with friends and family to see which ones stick. Run searches on Google, social media, and your state’s business registration page to ensure that it isn’t already in use. While you’re at it, check in on the requirements that you’ll need when registering your own business.

The More, The Merrier

Once you have a good idea of your name, brand, and services, it’s time to bring in your business development team. If you don’t have an accountant already, find one that works specifically with small businesses so he or she will have a good idea of how to structure your business. This will most likely be about the time that you’re ready to register your company with the state, in which case, congratulations! You’re a business owner! But you’re not done yet… Continue reading

» Listen Up… and Sell Even More!

Listen Up and Sell Even MoreWebinar recap: Learn how you can benefit from listening up to sell even more!

Like it or not, sales skills are an important part of every successful wedding professional’s job! Do you ever talk yourself out of a sale? When was the last time you had a couple sell themselves?

This month’s educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. After all, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust!

Here are a few key tips:

  • If you want more sales, ask better questions – and really listen to the answers!
  • Ditch the pitch and instead focus on what details matter to the individual client to customize your sale to connect with each couple.
  • Let the potential client the majority of the talking so you can learn more about their day, and don’t answer questions they haven’t asked.
  • Don’t try to rush the decision making process, it can be a big decision to choose their wedding team that can take time!
  • Remember that listening applies not only to appointments and calls but also emails and texts, so don’t data dump or over-share without finding more about their needs and wishes first.
  • Close the sale when you see and hear buying signals (such as asking about price, or availability for a specific date), and don’t be afraid to ask for their business!

Want to learn more about these tips? Watch the full webinar! 

All past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Training Staff to Align with Your Brand

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis 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.

Last month, we discussed the importance of having policies and procedures set in place to help streamline your business processes and guarantee that all team members are on the same page. Having a strong foundation is key to building a well-trained staff, which can be invaluable when looking to expand your company.

Training Staff to Align with Your BrandNot only does a well-trained staff bring a consistently positive client experience, but they’ll also be privy to the company’s roadmap for the future. Although wedding planning involves a number of moving pieces, laying out expectations in advance can provide a structure to support the ever-changing atmosphere of the industry.

One of the very best ways to train your staff is to take them on as interns from the get-go, rather than hiring them on as employees right away. This allows each of you to go through a trial period – while you evaluate their performance and determine if they’re a fit for your brand, they also have the opportunity to decide if your company is best suited for them. View this as a teaching period – provide them with lessons and gauge how well they learn. Be sure to get feedback from clients during the event, as they may have the best idea of how helpful the interns were.

Once hired, it’s crucial to continue empowering your employees and providing them with an atmosphere that fosters their creativity and their independence. You should have systems in place that allows them to work on their own, but you’ll still want to check in consistently to ensure that they’re working and producing the best work possible. Give them the tools to succeed, but let your team evolve based upon their own planning preferences. Everybody operates differently, so it’s especially important to value each and every person for what they bring to the table.

We provide supplemental training guides in the way of onboarding handbooks and training sessions with ourselves and with our trusted vendors. This gives them a bit of hands-on experience before truly putting them to the test and they appreciate the chance to learn from those they will be working with later down the line.

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» Infographic: How to Stay Profitable During the Off-Season

Many pros consider this time of the year that is more quiet a bit of an ‘off-season’ before busy wedding season picks up in in few months. Even if you may be less busy during this time, it is important to focus on your business, and set yourself up for a successful and profitable year ahead!

Check out these four ways to stay profitable and focused even during the ‘off-season’ from WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Want more information? Watch the full webinar here!

Stay Profitable During the Off-Season

» Stay Productive, Purposeful and Profitable During the Off-Season

Stay Productive during the Off-SeasonWebinar recap!

Many pros use the first few months of every year, often considered as the “off-season” to regroup before the upcoming wedding season begins in the Spring. While it’s great to use this time to refresh your business, it is important to maintain a sharp focus and use this time effectively to leverage your impact during the ongoing engagement season, and to set yourself up for a profitable year ahead!

In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his perspective on how to stay productive and maximize your business impact during the off-season.

Here are a few of Andy’s tips focused on improving your profitability:

  • Grow your professional network: Join or attend a local networking group or industry event, and make new industry connections with pros you admire that you can leverage to connect with more clients in 2016, and in turn recommend their services to your clientele.
  • Calculate your gross wedding income: Make sure you take the time to find out how successful your 2015 year was for your business by determining your gross income. To find this number, determine your overall wedding revenue in 2015, and divide that by the total number of weddings you serviced. That will show your overall income per wedding. Set a goal for your gross wedding income for 2016 and evaluate how you will get there— an expanded team, more booked weddings, higher prices?
  • Compute your marketing expenses: Take the time to track your marketing expenses to determine your overall spend, and apply that to your marketing plan for 2016. Expenses include association membership, online advertising, print ads, wedding shows, continued education and more. Review your overall spend, and determine how you will use it effectively in 2016 to help reach your business goals.
  • Determine your variable cost per wedding: How much do you spend per wedding on average? This amount impacts your overall revenue, and should factor into your prices. To find your variable cost per wedding, add up the cost of good, travel and delivery expenses, payroll per event, and any additional costs you may need to consider. Then, simply divide that number by your total number of weddings last year.

For more great tips on staying productive and profitable, watch the full webinar! Plus, all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime, on topics including marketing, sales, client communication and more.

» Set Business Resolutions that You Can Keep in 2016

Business Resolutions You Can Keep Webinar recap!

Every January starts with excitement about New Year’s Resolutions, but all too quickly they can be forgotten or pushed aside. Make 2016 your best year yet by setting business resolutions that you can actually keep, and that will have a lasting positive impact!

During this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg discussed the importance of setting challenging, yet achievable resolutions for yourself and your business each year.

Review Alan’s Top 5 Resolutions for Pros:

  1. Be respectful of time. As a busy Pro, you know that often, it can seem like there are simply not enough hours in the day! Save your own time, your clients time, and other professionals time, and keep your communication direct and concise. Also, work to respond to all inquires or questions in a very timely manner (aim for 24 hours or less!), even if just to acknowledge them.
  2. Be less connected to tech. While we all love technology and how it can make our lives more in sync, it can also be a distraction from personal interaction and taking the time to enjoy the moment. Challenge yourself to set some specific time to disconnect completely from tech each day, and focus on really connecting to the people and experiences in your life.
  3. Avoid hypocrisy. Wedding pros often have similar complaints when it comes to some clients. Next time you feel frustrated, take a moment to truly consider their point of view. After all, they are planning and investing in a once in a lifetime event. Wouldn’t you have questions, expect the highest quality service, and want to save some money if you could? Work to see their perspective, show empathy, and then use your experience to help them feel confident in their decision to do business with you.
  4. Shorten your to-do list. There is an easy way to shorten your to-do list without simply saying ‘no’ to more work! Make a daily ‘must-do’ list to go with your larger ‘to-do list.’ On this list, prioritize a handful of key actions that you must meet that day. Then, when the list is complete, move on to the next prioroity round of to-dos, or catch up on emails, calls or errands! You will feel accomplished and more relaxed, while keeping your focus on high priority items.
  5. Resolve to think bigger. Challenge yourself this year! What is the next big business step you hope to achieve? More revenue? More booked events? An expanded team? Consider what a better business means to you. From there, set three goals you hope to reach in 2016 that will get you to your next level. Create some metrics or programs that will help you reach your goals, and get started! Don’t forget to visit them regularly to stay on track, and see how you are progressing. A monthly check in can help!

For more great tips on creating and keeping your resolutions this year, watch the full webinar!

Commit to more education this year! All past webinars on a variety of important business topics for wedding Pros are available in the Education Center for premium Pros to view anytime, anywhere.

» 5 Tips for Running Your Business During the Holidays

How to run your wedding business during the holidaysFor many small business owners in the wedding industry, taking time off around the holidays can be extremely difficult to do. There’s a constant anxiety that you’re missing something important or forgetting about a client, so it can be hard to “check out” and enjoy the season. Yet if the holiday season is important to you, you should make every effort to reserve time for yourself.

No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, these tips will help you keep running your business during the holidays!

Communicate time off clearly

Because the holiday season has become such a big part of our culture, it’s expected that your business will not be available at all times during the month of December. As long as you notify your prospects and clients of your holiday hours early, they’ll know ahead of time when you absolutely won’t be available. You’ll find that as long as people know what to expect with plenty of time to make adjustments, closing for a few days shouldn’t be a problem!

Take care of loose ends before checking out

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to respond to any remaining emails, phone calls, or inquiries before the holidays. Especially if any of your correspondence is urgent, make sure you’ve covered off on those things before you take your time off. Or, if you have essential employees covering for you, make sure they have what they need to keep things moving in your absence.

Schedule/automate where possible

Emails, social media posts, and auto-response emails can be scheduled ahead of time, so take advantage! If you send email campaigns, consider writing, building, and scheduling a happy holidays email before you leave the office for the holidays. Write your social media posts and use a platform like Hootsuite to select when you’d like them to publish over the coming days. And don’t forget to add your vacation time to your auto-response emails – that way your clients will be reminded of your schedule.

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» Don’t Miss the New 2015 WeddingWire Education Guide!

WeddingWire Education GuideWeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business growing and ahead of the competition. We’re excited to announce the new WeddingWire Education Guide is here to help your business grow into 2016 and beyond!

This free guide just for wedding professionals pulls all the best educational content and downloads into one simple place for you to view any time. From marketing strategies to sales tips, client communication techniques and more – the WeddingWire Education Guide has you covered with great tips to take your business to new heights!

Check it out today, and don’t forget to bookmark it to review later and share it with your colleagues. 

View the Guide!

WeddingWire Education Guide Pages

» Are You Suffering from Success? Thoughts on Expanding Your Business

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.

Each wedding business owner has their own definition of success; some plan and manage with great care, while others grow with reckless abandon and may be experience intense stress as a result.

It’s common for many kinds of wedding businesses to start as part-time, usually to pursue a hobby or passion. From there, it’s a quick jump from hobbyist to business owner. The excitement of building a business with passion, pints of adrenaline, and infusion of cash or credit will carry you for a couple of years. However, as a business starts to gain momentum, the sole owner or partners begin to take on new roles: Human Resource Manager, Accountant, Marketing Director, and sometimes Graphic Designer.

Are You Suffering from Success? Thoughts on Expanding Your BusinessThe greatest change in the wedding industry within recent years is the magnification of the importance of various business roles like blogging, search engine optimization and social media. These areas are specialized, and many wedding professionals don’t have the necessary skill sets but are thrown into these roles anyway. There comes a critical point where you, as a business owner, must start thinking about expanding your business to avoid burnout.

What are the symptoms of suffering with success? Here are a few indicators:

  • When people ask you how the business is going, your first thought is about how busy you are. Ask yourself: Is that a good answer? What do I really mean? Am I highly profitable or just overloaded?
  • You work a full seven days a week. Whether you run a part-time or full-time wedding business, you find yourself struggling to keep up each day. There are times when you might go multiple weeks without a single day off.
  • You are experiencing FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Even though you know you need to pace yourself, you book every single opportunity that presents itself. You fear that if you don’t accept a booking that the influx of leads will dry up.
  • People stop inviting you to events because your excuse is that you’re always working. Sooner or later, the invitations cease; even from family members.
  • You begin to resent clients. Instead of being excited about the day, weekend, or wedding, you focus on the idiosyncrasies of the client, anticipating rough spots in the wedding even if they have not yet occurred.
  • Your significant other begins to quietly drop hints about spending more quality time with you. Without changes in your business commitments, the volume on these remarks gets louder and louder.
  • Maintaining your health has become a lower priority. Clothes don’t fit as they should, or you huff and puff just going up a flight a stairs.

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» New Employee Onboarding Success Tips

New Employee Onboarding Success TipsThe hiring process, from start to finish, can feel like a daunting task. And with so much work going into identifying and hiring that perfect new employee, it’s easy to forget that your job isn’t over when the contract is signed!

New employee onboarding is not often a skill that most wedding professionals have in their realm of experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. Use these new employee onboarding success tips to set yourself (and your new hire) up for long-term success.

Get a head start

Onboarding a new employee should start before he or she even arrives! The new hire will need to know when to arrive, where to park, how to dress and what to bring on the first day. Make the situation easier for the new hire by providing all this information prior to the first day. Maintain an open and consistent line of communication in the days or weeks leading up to the employee’s first day, and make sure your team is ready internally.

Cover all the basics

In addition to all the HR forms you and the new employee will need to fill out, there are a number of basic steps to take when onboarding a new employee. Even if you have a small store or office, don’t skip the office tour! You’ll need to point out important things like break areas, rest rooms and emergency exits. It’s also important that you go over any emergency procedures with the new employee to keep them up to date on workplace safety. If you have enough employees that it might be confusing for the new hire, provide an organizational chart to show who to report to with questions or issues.

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» Ace the Inquiry! Tips for Better Sale Conversions

Ace the InquiryWebinar recap!

When it comes to booking more business, getting more inquiries is just the beginning. How you handle those new inquiries is crucial! Many Pros do not realize the impact that your response time and communication style to leads can make on closing the sale.

In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his best tips to improve your sale conversions so you can have your most successful year yet!

Check out the tips below on how you can ace your next inquiry:

  • Respond quickly. More often than not, one of the first Pros to respond gets the business! Most couples only reach out to their top choices, so respond quickly to get their attention and work towards setting up a conversation that may lead to a sale.
  • Respond personally. Couples want to feel special as they plan their big day. Respond with a personal touch to acknowledge their request with their name and tie in any specific details about their day they may have shared. This will make them more inclined to learn more about your services and is a great first touch to establishing a connection.
  • Respond conversationally. Be mindful to be professional in your replies, but there is no need to be overly formal and stuffy. They are planning a very personal life event, and are more likely to want to do business with a Pro they feel a connection with. A conversational reply will make the couple feel at ease and will give a sense of your personality which can help you to stand out as they chose between Pros.
  • Don’t avoid the price question. When a couple is ready to know cost, don’t hesitate to share that information but do explain why you are priced the way you are! Work to make sure they already know about what makes your business special before jumping right into cost so they will be more inclined to appreciate the value of your services. Let them know you are happy to explain the reasoning behind your prices should they have any questions (or sticker shock!).
  • Use reviews. Reviews are a great way to stand out from your competition by letting your past clients do your bragging for you. With 72% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, there is no reason not to be collecting as many testimonials to share with potential clients as you can! Use the WeddingWire Review Collector tool to make it easy to gather great reviews.

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» Social Media Marketing: What Not To Do

Social Media Marketing: What Not To DoRunning your wedding business is a full time job, and it may seem like taking on additional responsibilities would be too much to handle. But with all the talk about social media and other online tactics, it’s important that your business fully understands social media marketing and what you should (and should not) do.

Even if you’ve started using social media for your business, it’s easy to get stuck in the same pattern of not knowing what to post or posting the same content over and over. We’ve got some of the biggest social media marketing don’ts so you can know how best to proceed!

Don’t create accounts you’ll never use

There are new social networks being launched each month, and while it’s important to pay attention to the features and benefits of each, don’t spread your business too thin by thinking you have to be present on every social network. Most businesses only have enough time or resources to manage a few social networks, so try for quality, not quantity! If you’re already overwhelmed with Facebook, Twitter and/or Pinterest, don’t create a new account on any network until you have time to dedicate to it.

Don’t just post about yourself

Although the purpose of a business account on social media is to promote your business, you shouldn’t just post about yourself. Don’t just post links back to your website constantly, and don’t post multiple times a day if you don’t have anything new to say. In addition to the occasional link back to your website, your posts should add value for your fans and followers. If you have a blog, remember to post your blog posts on your social networks to help educate and inform potential clients, and be sure to share any relevant news from industry websites or communities.

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