» 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.

» 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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» Hear What Pros Are Saying About WeddingWire World!

Have you gotten your ticket yet for WeddingWire World? Don’t miss two full days of education guaranteed to drive your personal and professional success this year! Hear what Pros like you have to say about WeddingWire World – from the educational seminars, to the networking opportunities and fun surprises.

This year, we are excited to be hosting our first two-day educational conference for wedding and event professionals in Washington, DC on March 16-17th. From well known speakers such as wedding trends expert Monte Durham and winner of NBC’s The Apprentice Bill Rancic, we have a killer line up of speakers, never before seen presentations and much more.

Don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what the Pros have to say about past WeddingWire World conferences.

“WeddingWire World in 2014 was a great opportunity to network David Rothstein Musicwith professionals in a wide variety of wedding related fields. You can learn from top wedding vendors and attend seminars from the biggest names in the wedding marketing business. It’s a great way to pick up some new ideas and get a quick dose of inspiration. Bring your business cards, notepad and you’re bound to come away with new friends and new ideas.”

David Rothstein, David Rothstein Music

Ceremonies by Bethel “I was so glad that I took the time and effort to attend WeddingWire World!  It was a day filled with education, inspiration, and connections with many great wedding pros.  And, a very-needed chance to focus ON my business and not just another day IN my business.”

Bethel Nathan, Ceremonies by Bethel

 

Classic Catering & EventsWeddingWire World was filled with great ways to market your wedding business. The speakers were knowledgeable and passionate about their topics. The best part was it was interesting and fun to listen! They truly wanted wedding professionals to succeed. The day was very educational filled with thoughtful and insightful views from WeddingWire, for an array of wedding vendors.”

Emily Klutts, Classic Catering & Events

Get your tickets today. Prices increase on February 20th! Questions? Email events@weddingwire.com and we will be in touch soon.

We can’t wait to see you in March!

» Top Business Resolutions for 2015

Want 2015 to be the best year for your business yet? We’re here to help with your Top Business Resolutions!

Start the year off strong with these 10 key business items to focus on, directly from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly. By committing to focus on each of these important categories, you are bound to have a successful year ahead!

Top Business Resolutions for 2015

» 7 Steps to Establishing a New Wedding 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.

No matter how active your current business or how big your aspirations, it’s not unusual to wonder about your next steps as a business. Whether you’re brand new to the wedding industry as a whole, or you’re considering moving to a new market or category, I’ve outlined below what I believe to be some of the best places to start when establishing a new wedding business.

7 Steps to Establishing a New Wedding Business1.  Jumpstart your experience and passion

Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned professional who needs a booster shot, there is no better tactic than spending time as an intern with another professional in your field of endeavor. For the beginner, staying local (just be sure to share clear intentions) is a great place to start. Reading books, attending seminars, and the like all have their place; however, there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty and observing.

If you’re an experienced Pro, you’ve hopefully made peer contacts through wedding and category-specific conferences. Identifying a peer who is strong where you are weak and offering to work for free for a week or two is a fast-track approach to finding a spark. One of the keys in either situation is to offer something of specific value (think ‘skill’) to contribute. That value for value relationship is most likely to create a successful collaboration.

Approach these opportunities with clear goals, making sure you can achieve the experience and knowledge you desire, and arrive at a clear agreement on arrangement.

2.  Seek out educational and networking opportunities

There are local, regional and national entities offering a wide variety of education and networking opportunities. Even those choices can be daunting. Consider breaking it down like this:

  • National Conferences – Whether general industry conferences or category-specific conferences, there are a number to choose from. An example of wedding industry conferences would be WeddingWire World or Wedding MBA.
  • Regional Events – Depending on your resources and the curriculum, these are also a good place to start. Examples are hosted by NACE (National Association for Catering and Events), ISES (International Special Events Society) and ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants).
  • Local Groups – These can be local chapters of national associations or individually formed local groups. There are many wedding-specific organizations. To become educated or to stay current in your local market, you should sample multiple groups and pick a couple which fit your ambitions and goals. There is networking, education, seminars and more. Beginning to build business relationships and a personal fan club starts here.

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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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