I have nothing against hobbies. In fact, I buy jewelry, clothes, etc., all the time from people who do these things as hobbies or pastimes, and you probably do, too.
However, would I be willing to fork over thousands of dollars and entrust all that money and all my dreams and hopes for my wedding day to someone who considers event planning a hobby? Uh, no. Not in a million years. And neither would most of your prospects.
As you know very well, weddings and personal events like birthdays, anniversaries and bar/bat mitzvahs are occasions that people invest quite a bit of themselves and as well as their life savings. And they don’t want to turn it over to someone who they don’t see as a seasoned expert or who isn’t fully invested in realizing their vision.
Many event and wedding planners run their business as a part-time venture, which is perfectly fine, but there’s a fine line between a part-time business and a hobby. So here are 5 things to avoid if you don’t want to be seen as a event planning hobbyist.
1. Using a free email address and Web site
One thing that shows that you are in business and invested in its success is having your own domain name and Web site. This shows you have cared enough about your professional image to have your own URL (www.MyWeddingPlanningFirm.com), Web site and email address (you@MyWeddingPlanningFirm.com). A Gmail or Hotmail address and free Web site simply looks unprofessional and gives a feeling of impermanence, as if your company may not be around next week.
2. Using your personal bank account
Any business worth its salt has its own bank account, and it’s usually cheap and easy to go to your local bank and set up a separate checking account for your business. First of all, this can help you keep your business and personal finances separate (very useful come tax time). Second, it gives clients the appearance that you are established and business savvy enough to have your own business account. Third, if a client ever decides to sue you (perish the thought), being able to show a separation between your personal finances and business finances may provide added legal protection (consult your attorney for more information).
3. Dressing too casual
At a minimum, you should always be dressed better than your clients. However, you should always strive to convey a sense of professionalism in your attire … your clothes should make a statement that you belong and that you are serious about serving them (remember … “Clothes make the man/woman”). These people are going to be hiring you for your sense of style (among other things), and dressing down will make them think that their event will also be similarly lacking in attention to style and detail.
4. Not having appropriate tools and resources in place
There are certain things prospects expect when they first meet with you. They want to hear about a process or method to your approach. They want to hear you “talk the talk” and use terminology of the profession (even if they’re not familiar with it). They want to see examples of your past work. They want to know your history of working with vendors. They want to hear about any tools you use to do your job (this could include any event or wedding planner software you use).
In other words, they are looking for signs that you have done this before and that you are committed enough to your profession to have certain processes and business relationships in place. By coming to the pitch prepared to answer all these questions and demonstrate your expertise, you go a long ways in convincing prospects you are a viable candidate.
And if you are just starting out, this is all more difficult, so you will have to do what we all did when we started out … fake it until you make it.
5. Underpricing your services
Many new wedding and event planners believe that they must dramatically underprice their services in order to land clients. However, all this does is attract high-maintenance, bottom-feeder clients who will nickel-and-dime you to death and expect a royal wedding. Hence, you will end up both making no profits and hating your work … a lose-lose proposition if there ever was one.
By underpricing your services, the message you are sending is that your services aren’t worth as much as those offered by other event and wedding planners, giving clients the impression that you’re not very good at what you do and that what you do does not have value. You should at least have pricing that’s competitive with your peers.
Bottom line … don’t sell yourself short and set yourself up for failure from the beginning. You are worth hiring, so give yourself a fighting chance of winning the business.
Show your clients you’re a true professional … impress them by using My Wedding Workbook Pro to manage their events and your business.