» Creating an Efficient, Sustainable Work Culture

When your work culture is efficient and sustainable, your industry peers, clients and prospects tend to see you differently. It is inviting to top talent and intriguing to those who want to know the secret of your success – attention for all the right reasons. A strong, efficient work culture paired with a desirable and quality product or services is a recipe for great achievement.

What should your culture include?

Begin by examining your values. How do you want others to perceive your business? What sets you apart from your competition? When someone sees your logo or hears your business name, what is the first thing you hope comes to mind?

Choose an atmosphere that both reflects where you and your employees want to work, and the kind of business your prospective clients want to work with. Are you the formal, business-like entity that values strict deadlines or are you more playful and laidback? While you are free to define your work culture any way you want, there is a consequence of becoming discordant with your base clientele. Consider their needs and perceptions before you adopt anything too wildly out of character.

Culture sustainability

Creating a work culture is not a one-off event. You need to nurture your employees, hear their input and resolve their concerns. At Fantasy Sound, we hold an annual retreat to get out of the office, brush off the cobwebs and bring in fresh air and perspective. During these retreats, we hold honest conversations about what is working and what needs improvement. Everyone’s voice is heard.

Throughout the year, we also check in with our team to confirm we are staying on track. The effort to sustain a great work culture is worth the outcome for the business and staff alike.

Efficiency promotes satisfaction

You can have the coolest company culture around, but failure to provide efficient, reliable services will kill even the hippest businesses fast. Take steps to make your company culture is one that prizes productivity and efficiency.

Manage time wisely. We employ time mapping across all of Fantasy Sound, making firm appointments with ourselves to ensure that everything we need to do gets done, and done well. This ensures a high-quality customer experience and great reviews, which in turn feeds employee spirit.

We also seek out technology that resolves issues that would otherwise become pain points. The keys to successfully employing technology to boost productivity are to carefully weigh your options, choose the best products for your needs, and to provide training and support for your staff to make adoption go smoothly.

Managing time and using technology contribute to our ability to serve our internal and external clients and maintain a productive work environment. An efficient team is a happy team.

It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that atmosphere and employee engagement has on the success of a business. The key to achieving this level of employee satisfaction and performance is creating an efficient and sustainable work culture.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» How to Balance Work Personalities

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ

Maintaining a positive workplace is a key to success. After all, a business runs best when employees are engaged and focused on work instead of office politics.

A comfortable work environment starts at the hiring process — qualifying candidates based on your company’s core values will ensure that your employees will form a solid team. I look for someone who is energetic, confident, eager to learn, and interested in our company. In our situation, experience isn’t necessary as we are happy to train on site, but a keen interest and knowledge of our company shows passion to be a part of our team. At the end of the day, that speaks more than job experience.

Cultivating a positive work culture starts at the top — it’s up to a business owner to create an environment where work gets done and employees feel comfortable communicating with one another. At Fantasy Sound, we have daily “Sound Off” meetings that allow us to discuss our service standards for the day and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Employees feel engaged and empowered when they feel that their voices are heard, so listen up. It only takes 15 minutes of the day, but it keeps morale high and sets our company up to continue providing excellent service.

We also have weekly department meetings that help to keep us operating efficiently. Not only do these meetings hold everyone accountable, but I’ve noticed a rise in our team productivity as well since hot issues can be addressed all at once.

In addition to open communication, every business owner wants to instill a culture where employees look forward to going to work. How do you do that, you ask? Simple: plan fun teambuilding activities to get rid of the proverbial cobwebs. For example, we host birthday lunches for every employee which is always a nice time to look forward to. We’ve also recently started an ongoing Mario Kart tournament within the office for a taste of healthy and fun competition.

Even still, internal conflict is inevitable in any office and it’s up to business owners to navigate these waters with caution. I personally try to address conflicts as they happen, as opposed to seeing if they can work out on their own. Waiting too long can cause a minor disagreement to fester into something larger, which can be detrimental to your overall work culture.

With that said, I do recommend waiting a bit if the conflict is particularly emotional. Address it once the emotions pass and everyone involved can approach it with a cool head. Letting emotions mix into the discussion can cause the problem to get even worse. Sit down with each party individually before setting a time for a group meeting. That way, you can go into the discussion with the full picture and offer ideas for solutions. When counseling employees, avoid taking sides by sticking to your company values. Appeal to their commitment to the company and work together to find a solution that keeps everyone happy. Chances are that if you hired the right people from the get-go, any internal conflicts can be overcome with open and honest communication.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» How to Hire the Right People for Your Team

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Assembling the right team is essential to the success of a company, especially one that is growing and evolving in a field as service-oriented as the wedding industry. The wrong employee will set you back in terms of time, resources and more than a little sanity. Before you hire someone new, prepare yourself for the task and avoid mistakes before they cost you any of the above.

The posting

Even if you have hired for the position before, it never hurts to revisit your job description. You want your new hire to fit into your overall brand, so be meticulous with how you advertise yourself as an employer.

Revisit the little details – do all of the job responsibilities still make sense? Are there things from your plate you’d like to move over to the new employee? Is your compensation in line with area standards and is it competitive? Consider connecting with your team and soliciting their thoughts on the qualities and skills needed.

Promoting your job opening

When it is time to promote your open position, start with your blog, social media and newsletter. Reach out to trusted colleagues and ask them to keep an ear open for highly qualified candidates looking to change positions. Your best matches often come to you as warm leads.

Great employer seeks perfect candidate

Once you begin interviewing, know the signs of a great match. Look for somebody who is fun, energetic, personable and willing to learn. Your clients want to connect with someone who has a positive attitude and who upholds your corporate culture.

On the flip side, be aware of red flags. Showing up late for an interview, not following instructions included in a job listing, not being properly dressed for the interview, and not knowing anything about the company or the position they are applying for are all signs that a candidate is less than ideal.

The double-edged sword of previous experience

While past experience can be desirable, it also can mean that a candidate has developed bad habits, or is unwilling to adapt. Be open to looking beyond experience. Focus on potential.

Questions to ask

Your questions can encompass basic information like “What do you know about our company?” and “How do you define good customer service?” Don’t be afraid to get (professionally) creative, though. We like to ask something like, “If you were going to be working on a movie, what part would you want to play: actor, producer or director?’ to get a feel for applicants’ motivations and personalities.

Involve the team

Consider a trial run for a set period of time to allow you to determine if your new hire is compatible with your current team. You’re about to spend a lot of time with him or her, so it’s worth the extra effort for all involved to make sure you have found a good fit.

Few business decisions are as critical as hiring the right talent. Invest your time and effort in the process. You will not be sorry.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» Hiring an Intern: What You Need to Know

If you’re in a place where you are in need of a little extra help, but don’t quite have the resources or budget to hire a publicity firm, it might be the right time to bring in a PR intern. Eager college students and recent graduates can bring new perspective and fresh ideas that can really benefit your business and make your daily life a lot more manageable.

With that, let’s take a look at what tips you need to know:   

First and foremost, before sending anything out, educate yourself and make sure you are up-to-date on the laws and regulations associated with hiring a paid or unpaid intern.


How to Find One

When you are ready to promote your search for an intern, there are several ways you can go about it. Make sure you are diversifying your methods, and not relying on just one avenue. Word-of-mouth is an underestimated but very effective way to find new people. In fact, some of my best interns have come from friends in the industry referring people they knew. Post the job details on all of your social media accounts, as well as your blog if you have one – be sure that you’re including a link to the full job description and details.

Getting in touch with the local colleges and universities that have PR, marketing, communications, or hospitality programs is another great way to connect with potential applicants. Ask how they promote internships and see if you can get posted on their job boards, social media, etc. You could even take it one step further by connecting with professors in those programs and getting them to spread the word.

Communicating the Job

The description of the internship should be very clear about what the internship will entail—you want the responsibilities to be well-defined. The last thing you want is to have a disappointed intern who, for example, didn’t realize they would be doing admin work at an event planning company. Every company has different needs, but a basic description could look something like this:

Specific duties of the intern vary each year depending on new issues and marketing objectives, but could include: writing marketing pieces; social media management (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogging); assisting with activities during events; appointment confirmations; involvement in promotions and research and providing staff support.

Make sure the description matches your brand and gets everyone excited. If you want the best, you’ll be competing with all sorts of other job opportunities.


The Interview Process

Once you’ve got a solid pool of applicants, you’ll want to bring them in for a formal interview. Personally, I like the meeting to be in person, but if the position is remote or current schedules won’t permit, Skype is a good alternative. Begin by explaining what the company is, how the need for an intern came to be, and a little bit more depth into the responsibilities of the position. During the ‘questions’ portion of the interview, stay away from yes or no questions. This is your chance to get to know them, their experience, how prepared they came for the interview, and really get a feel for how well they would fit. Some questions to consider might be:

  • Tell us about your interest in the position. What drew you to our company?
  • Tell us about what kind of experience you have in relation to the position
  • Where do you see yourself after graduating/or in the next five years?

Once you’ve selected your candidate (hooray!), be sure to do an orientation (i.e. an everything-you-need-to-know meeting). At our company, we break the orientation day into different training sessions that start with the basics and works its way into the more complicated aspects of the position. Be sure you remain open minded while they are learning; for some, this may be their first ‘on-the-job’ experience and you are a resource for them while they learn.
With these tips in your pocket, hiring a stellar intern should be just around the corner!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

» How to Get Big Results with a Small Team

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

Be Inspired started with just two employees, and over the years we’ve grown into a team of 12 and the majority of my employees have been with me for many years. Through all the growth, I’ve learned that having a quality team is more important than having a large team.

How to Get Big Results with a Small TeamIf you follow my tips you can make your smaller team more successful than ever.

  1. Don’t hire based on resume

With any team, especially smaller ones, you need to be extra picky when hiring new employees. If your team is small, you need hard workers who will thrive in your environment. Their resume may read perfect experience for the position, but if their personality does not fit with the rest of your team, it’s not going to work out. One person who doesn’t fit into the work environment can throw the whole thing off and negatively affect your business. Understand your business’ culture and be specific.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

With a smaller team, you are most likely sharing a space with the same people 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. To prevent burnout and frustration with each other, create a company culture based upon respect. There is a time and place to for personal conversations and the more respect within the company, the easier it will be for your employees to understand boundaries.

  1. Have Company Outings

At Be Inspired PR, we’re all about having fun outings together as a squad. We’ve gone on a whale watching trip, done sweat-dripping work out classes, and most recently had a pool party! It’s a great way to just let loose out of the office and have some fun. But company get-togethers can be in office too! Whether it’s walking to a local favorite restaurant or ordering in, group lunches are the perfect way to strengthen the feeling of being a team.

  1. Keep it simple

When you have a small team it’s crucial that everyone is clear about their tasks and responsibilities. That way nobody steps on anybody’s toes and there is a clear sense of who is leading what. Of course, there are always opportunities for collaboration, but for everyday tasks it’s more successful to keep things streamlined.

A small team can be just as successful as a big one when managed in the right way. Maintain the respect between your employees, but also treat them well. With a small team, it may seem easier to manage, but it’s crucial that everyone pulls their own weight.

» 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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» Building a Team that Represents Your Brand

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.

Any business owner knows that hiring the right people is incredibly important to their success. Less clear, however, is exactly how to do it. How can we find good people, train them effectively, and motivate them to represent the brand we’ve worked so hard to create? Here are five steps to building the best team for your business:

Building a Team that Represents Your BrandKnow your brand, inside and out. You certainly can’t expect anyone else to understand your brand if you don’t understand it yourself. And if you don’t understand it, you definitely can’t articulate it to your team! Your brand encompasses what your company does (its service or product), who it serves (your target clientele including demographics, style, budget, buying habits, priorities, and values), how your marketing looks, why you’re different from your competition, and how people perceive your company when they hear its name. Make sure you’re crystal clear on all of these things, so that you can define your brand to the team you’re hiring.

Look for people who are not only good, but good for you. In most wedding-related fields, character traits are as important, if not more important, than education and job skills. You can usually train people on how to do something, but you can’t train them to have the personality, values and qualities that will make them the right fit for your business. I recommend that every business owner identify 3-5 key traits as a starting point for narrowing down new hires – for example, in my DJ business, I chose nice, polished and resourceful. I need genuinely good people, whose appearance and demeanor reflect well on the professionalism of my company’s brand, and who are capable of thinking on their feet and solving problems creatively. My team and I can teach them how to DJ and how to work a wedding, but if they don’t have those three essential qualities, it’s never going to work.

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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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» HR Tips for Establishing Company Culture

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

HR Tips for Teaching Company CultureFor many wedding professionals, hiring new employees is a simple process of identifying potential candidates based on experience and selecting the most qualified. However, when adding new employees it’s important to be strategic!

If you’re trusting someone other than yourself to work with or manage clients, you should be making sure that person is an extension of you in every way. Often times business owners will bring in new businesses and start the initial contract, but the client ends up dealing with a different employee throughout the rest of the process. This is very common for venues, which often have different sales employees from their day-of coordinators.

Everything you stand for as a business owner or manager should translate to every single employee to ensure that the customer gets the same experience (great experience!) no matter who they speak with at your business. The following HR tips will help your business identify your company culture and values and extend them to each new hire.

Confirm your company’s vision

It may seem old-fashioned to new wedding professionals, but setting a company vision or mission statement is necessary for any small business. Although no one will be grading you on it, it will guide you as you grow and start hiring more employees. If everyone is aware of your company’s vision and the values you strive to emulate, there’s a common goal in everyone’s eyes. There’s less confusion in the long run if employees break from that vision; it’s something to point to as a goal for everyone.

Consider fit, not just experience

When hiring a new employee, don’t just hire based on the resume – consider the candidate’s fit within your company culture. Think about the ideal employee, a person who shares your values and who you can be confident will do the best job representing your business. Is this person willing to go above and beyond what’s required of him or her to satisfy a customer? Even if a candidate meets the requirements, he or she may not be the best fit in your company culture.

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» Top Small Business HR Resources

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Having human resources programs in place is a requirement as you build your wedding business, but we know that it can be confusing to understand all the roles, requirements and responsibilities. Despite what you think you know, Human Resources is more than just paperwork! If you’re interested in learning more about HR but aren’t sure where to start, check out these top small business HR resources, below:

Top Small Business HR ResourcesDepartment of Labor

First and foremost, it’s important to go straight to the source for a deeper understanding of human resources or any legal questions you may have. The U.S. Department of Labor website offers a number of small business resources to help your business comply with rules and regulations, including answers to everyday HR questions as well as for special situations that your business may not have handled before. Overall, it’s a good place to start when you’re seeking HR advice.

Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is another great resource for learning more about current news and best practices in human resources. SHRM takes HR knowledge to the next level by sharing content on popular HR topics as well as informs on HR strategy. They also provide templates and tools that help you implement things you learn. In order for you to be successful and keep your employees happy, it’s important to understand both the rules and regulations as well as best practices in the industry – SHRM helps you achieve that!


Whether you’re ready to hire your first employee or your fiftieth, Monster.com is there to help. In addition to being one of the top job board websites, its benefits to companies have come a long way. Your business can post an open position on Monster and accept applicants, or your business can search for applicants to see who’s looking for a job in your area. Even better, you can save those searches so that Monster can match you with new applicants as they appear so you don’t have to constantly monitor! Even if you’re not actively searching for a new employee, Monster has several forums where you can learn more about other HR-related topics.

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» 5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding Business

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

It’s important to avoid getting so caught up in weddings and events that you don’t find time to evaluate the internal portion of your business. Do you have the right tools in place to work efficiently? Are there new tactics you should consider to help your business be found? Or, most importantly, do you have the people in place to help your business grow?

If you think your wedding business is ready to progress to the next level by hiring some fresh faces, check out our smart hiring tips to make the process simple!

5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding BusinessAsk your network to help

Whether you’re asking friends and family if they know someone looking for a job or you’re asking another business you admire for hiring tips, leverage your network to help you hire. The best hires are often in the right place at the right time, and you never know who has the perfect connection in mind, waiting to be given the chance. Also, since the wedding industry is much more specialized than most job markets, other Pros might be able to offer some tips for getting your job posting out there on more niche job sites.

Do some interview prep

Especially if you’re planning to have more than one employee involved in the interview, prepare for the interview ahead of time to decide which questions you’d like to ask, what qualifications you’re looking for and other traits you would like in the candidate. Take into account any feedback from employees the candidate would potentially work with to make sure they feel good about the questions you plan to ask, too.

Check out their social profiles

In addition to checking references, many companies in today’s job marketplace will check out candidates’ social media profiles to determine whether or not the candidate is a good fit. These days it’s pretty easy to make your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account private, but it doesn’t hurt to check for anything unseemly or unprofessional posts. If the candidate’s account is indeed private, don’t pry – just rely on the other resources provided to make your decision. If the candidate’s account is public, it doesn’t hurt to double-check that he or she acting responsibly and seems like a good personality fit.

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» Avoid These Common Small Business Mistakes

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Avoid These Common Small Business MistakesStarting your own business is exciting and often the result of many years in the wedding industry, where you’ve proven your expertise. You know everything there is to know about your given profession, and you’re ready to share it with the world! Starting your own business, however, doesn’t always mean that you know everything there is to know about owning a business.

Knowing the basics of owning a small business is important. 46% of small businesses fail because of incompetence due to nonpayment of taxes, lack of planning, no knowledge of financing or no experience in record-keeping. 30% of businesses fail because of unbalanced experience or due to lack of managerial experience. It’s best to do your homework before getting started to know exactly what owning your own business means.

Read up on these common small business mistakes to keep your wedding and events business thriving!

Mixing personal and professional accounts

For many one-man (or woman) businesses, it’s easy to co-mingle business accounts with your professional accounts, since both accounts go directly to you. It may be a common practice, but it will cause problems for your business in the long run. You should maintain separate checking accounts and track expenses separately so when tax time rolls around, you’ll be able to see your records easily and file taxes appropriately. It’s also just good business sense – couples feel better about writing checks to businesses, not individuals. The more you separate yourself from your business, the more you will be perceived as a professional wedding business rather than a part-time weekend warrior.

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