Category Archives: Event Planning Business Advice

Be A More Assertive Event Planner : Practice Makes Perfect

By | Corporate Event Coordinator, Corporate Event Planner, Event Planner, Event Planning Business Advice, Event Planning Workshops, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

Have you ever worked at venue, and heard from management that you the most calm event planner (or one of) that they’ve worked with? When I’ve asked what they’ve experienced from other planners, I’ve heard stories of drunk planners, planners that have caused major drama, got into fights with vendors, etc.  Now mind you, I have a wide network of planners here in L.A. and know none of my compadres would ever act like this, but, as the years wore on and I bore the brunt of bad behavior from clients, guests and vendors, I could understand why planners get aggressive, reactive, and, well, un-calm.

I never let myself ‘lose it,’ but one thing I learned to do was be more assertive. I.e., stay calm, but not passive.  A couple times, I even raised my voice, but only when necessary. I do think that it’s great to be calm, but it can’t be at the expense of your well-being and the quality of your client’s event or of your business (when a client needs some boundaries set).  I will say, it gets easier the more you practice. Here’s some tips.

Call a company and negotiate, even if it’s not as an event planner.

Why not? It can be your wifi, your office rent lease renewal, or shoot, just call your credit card company and ask for a better APR. Use measured approach and validate it with a good reason (“I did some research, and an office building next door is charging less than what I’m paying now – so my rent needs to stay the same for the next year.”). These lower-level negotiations will prepare you to be tougher in more tense situations.

Strengthen your contract and stick to it.

If I had a nickel for every time a client innocently started involving me in rehearsal dinner plans (when I’ve been clearly hired just to work the wedding)…  I finally added in italics that these events are clearly additional services, just to reinforce what exactly my contract covered. Then I felt more comfortable telling the client they’d have to pay extra for these services.  The first time, I had butterflies in my stomach; after that, I didn’t blink.  And the clients were grateful for my honesty, and some even hired me to help with their additional events.

Let ‘er rip – when you really need to.

I’ve only raised my voice 3 times in nearly 200 events. Twice, it was towards staff or vendors’ staff that were not listening. I politely and firmly asked for something several times – no response. (Was it because I was a *female* event planner? I wonder.). Finally, I raised my voice a shout.  And it worked! I know we shouldn’t have to do it, but a) if there are no guests around and b) it’s a vital, time sensitive issue, than IMO, it’s okay to raise your voice.  (The third time was to an inebriated, aggressive guest who was harassing me – raising my voice stunned him so much, he scurried away!)

Setting Boundaries with Wedding Clients

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Difficult Clients and Vendors, Event Planner, Event Planning Business Advice, Event Planning Education, Event Planning Workshops, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding | No Comments

An unexpected thing happened when I started wedding planning:  People lower their guard with wedding planners, and suddenly you’re treated like a therapist – or punching bag.  Some of the sharply worded, irritable, or just plain mean treatment totally blew me away, or highly reactive behavior – like the bride who called me at 11pm on a Saturday night to tell me the photo of the prototype of her bouquet made her cry (after she tried to tell the florist the exact recipe to use, which of course wouldn’t look right because the bride wasn’t a florist!).  Clearly, I needed to set boundaries with some brides, grooms, and family members and friends. Here’s how I did it.

Smogshoppe Wedding Boundaries clients

Photo by Marble Rye Photography

Set Boundaries from the Beginning

The best way to do this is to set expectations and boundaries from the beginning – I mean from before the clients even hire you.  You must set a sense of authority and expertise, and be clear that there are ground rules for communication, including office hours and a general good attitude when talking.  I was a bride and I know how stressful it can be – but we’re not saving lives here: There’s no need to have an anxiety attack over whether or not the quartet can learn the exact arrangement of the pop song you want playing as you walk down the aisle.

Peony Boutonnierre Peony Boutonierre  Boundaries wedding clients Mulberry Row florist Malibu Rocky Oaks wedding peonies

Photo by Iris and Light

Pick the Right Clients.

If potential clients don’t like your no-nonsense (but kind) attitude, they aren’t a good fit. You’re not a non-stop ‘yes man,’ you’re a voice of reason. If they want an enabler, they can go somewhere else.

Make it Legal!

Then, be sure your contract supports your boundaries, and lays in place parameters for how you communicate.

Once you start establishing your authority, your life will change, and your work will be more joyous, and your clients will be grateful for your support.  To learn more about boundaries, email me at dee@noworriesep.com.  Happy planning!

Business Builders: What we can learn from Prince

By | Business Builders, Business Development, Event Planner, Event Planning Business Advice, Prince | No Comments

purple rain

 

Like most, I was shocked and saddened by Prince’s death last week.  Being obsessed with my business at any given time (as most self employed peeps tend to be), I immediately started thinking about his life insofar as how I could learn from it as a businessperson.  It wasn’t a stretch, at all.  He was a hardworking, honest, brilliant man and he had great business practices, too.

  1. He protected his best interests.  Prince changed his name to a symbol in order to get out of what he thought were overbearing contracts with his record company. He also always fought for pure artistic control. While it’s good to meet clients in the middle with their fair requests, it’s also important to make sure to protect your interests as a business if an unfair request is made.  If your gut is telling you something is amiss, listen closely, and act wisely.
  2. He supported and mentored others – especially women. Think of other artists, male or female, and what other artists they have helped succeed. I can’t think of any that match Prince.  From Sheena Easton to Sheila E to Wendy and Lisa, he has brought talented female artists to the forefront of pop, sharing his stage generously. I have so many outstanding relationships with fellow planners; it’s a wonderful community.  I hear from time to time there may be a propensity for cliquishness, though I have never experienced this. For me, sharing information and resources is great business and more importantly, reflects a passion for supporting our community, particularly the women working hard to be self reliant and successful.  And if this means grooming a contractor who works for you and then one day she/he starts their own business,that’s okay. I actually love working for, and with, my past employees! It’s fun, and we rely on each other to talk us through crazy days, share tips and crucial info, and overall it boosts the economy, and our industry, in both big and small ways.
  3. He innovated.  In a recent interview, quoted here, Questlove said, “Prince is probably the only artist who got to live the dream of constant innovation.”  He was constantly playing with new ways of developing music.  As event planners, we have to constantly watch for the next trend, next idea, next way to engage attendees with social media, etc.  We teach our clients Pinterest, get a business Dropbox account for sharing large files, and stay engaged on Instagram and track the ever changing algorithms of Facebook and Google. I’m always on the hunt for new educational seminars, webinars, and articles to help me see what’s on the horizon, and chatting with fellow planners is a great way to do this as well.
  4. He was multidisciplinary.  He once said, The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can. Prince played a bazillion instruments, and brilliantly.  As planners, we need to have a wide range of knowledge. I’ve taken classes with florists (with Flower Duet and Flour LA) to learn more about decor and florals; taken seminars on lighting; and floor managed for caterers, to give an example of my attempts to better educate myself so I can best learn to advocate for the best options for my clients – and to educate them, as well.

I have a lot more work to do – it’ll never end, really – to constantly hone and refine my expertise as a planner, even though I’ve already come a long way; but thinking of all he accomplished is one way to encourage me to keep striving.  It’s a testament to who he was as an artist that he has that power – to inspire us!

Business Builders: Book Report -“Accounting for the Numberphobic”

By | Business Builders, Business Consulting, Business Development, Event Planning Business Advice | No Comments

Part of running a business is being able to do everything at first – sales, marketing, office management, and bookkeeping. Now, eventually you want to outsource at least partially some things, and not be a one man or woman show – or you will stagnate and become overwhelmed.  But it is imperative that you understand how to do basic bookkeeping and understand revenue, profit, and other key concepts about managing the finances of a business.

Reading Accounting for the Numberphobic by Dawn Fotopulos is the one book to read in order to do this. It moves quickly, it’s engaging, and explains things simply so anyone can understand. Most importantly, it relates how many financial concepts affect your business, and how to evaluate the services or products you sell – so you can adjust the pricing, discard, or re-engineer said services to boost your profit.

Key takeaways you’ll find inside:

  1.  Why booking all your leads is a bad sign
  2. Why a higher-priced service may NOT be a moneymaker for you
  3. How to read your balance sheet
  4. Invoicing. You must invoice your clients a few days before their payment is due; or you will have significant cash flow issues.  Fotopulos explains some other excellent advice for invoicing properly.

Another tip I’ll throw into the mix – hire a great bookkeeper to polish your Profit and Loss report at the end of the year and process your 1099s; and then use Quickbooks.com or other online bookkeeping software that syncs with your bank account for nearly brainless reconciliation of your books on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  This system allows you to have that professional oversight so you don’t screw up fatally, but avoids the cost of a full on bookkeeper which can be hard to afford the first few years of a business.

And, read this book!  It will ease any fears or confusion on accounting, and strengthen your business.