Work Life Balance

By Regina Young, Meant2Be Events

The truth is that writing this blurb on work-life balance couldn’t come at a better time for me. You see, I just returned from a lovely week long vacation to Hawaii with my spouse after hiring one of my interns to handle our social media accounts. Another box is checked in my pursuit of a better quality of life…

The concept of work- life balance is like a unicorn. We never really know when we have found itand it can feel like an endless pursuit.  Elusive & captivating all at the same time. But what I have found in being an entrepreneur is that with many things that involved balance, the focus will shift. There will be times when the emphasis is more on one side of the scale then the other. As long as there is enough time in the middle, that sweet spot where you can easily see both sides of the extreme, that is where productivity and happiness exist. 

So how do we get there? Here are a few key actions to assist you in the chase for the unicorn.

Define What Success Means to You

Deciding what success means to you is the first key in finding balance because it defines what path you need to walk. If success means a six-figure income and a month of vacation time a year, then anything that doesn't fit with that definition can be removed. If success means one client a week and extra spending money to do fun things with your family, then you don't need to put in the kind of work that would bring you a six-figure income. Your definition is unique to you, and removing the pressure to live up to someone else's definition of success saves time and gives you a destination. Success isn't just a question of work, but also of your private life. Write down your definition and use it as a measuring stick when you tackle the rest of these tips.

This process of defining your success should be something you reevaluate often. Your life and priorities will change. That’s ok. It’s called being human. 

Finished Is Better Than Perfect

As creatives, we are often so focused on doing things perfectly that we cease to move forward, we waste valuable time and build unneeded hurdles on our way to success. Yes, plan and practice, but don't waste your life planning. Act, so that you can also live. Don't let fear of imperfection keep you in a holding patten where you aren't learning or growing. Get busy finishing things and learn as you go.

So many people ask me where I learned what I know about the wedding planning process. My answer is always “the school of hard knox”. Our industry is always changing and growing, as much as many traditions stay the same. Being innovative is equally important as being consistent. 

Build Business Systems

If you've been paying attention to the theme of these tips, you'll have noticed that time management is the focus. Business systems are a key way to streamline the time you spend working. Well-oiled machines work more smoothly and more reliably than machines that are rusty, ill fitted, or receive little maintenance. Business systems allow you to streamline the way you work, repeating the same steps to achieve desired results as efficiently as possible. When you know exactly what needs to get done, and what manner in which to do it, you achieve repeatable results with predictable outcomes. This is not only a time saver, but it allows you to plan because you will know exactly how much time each task will take. Better than this, you can pass tasks to other people when systems are in place with rules that can be followed. 

For example, social media has come a long way and continues to be a major influencer in the buying process for our wedding/event clients. There are so many management programs out there that can cut down the time spent on trying to build a presence in multiple sources. We love later.com to manage our instagram and Facebook accounts. We will be adding Pinterest to it soon as well…

Outsource

One thing most artistic entrepreneurs miss out on is the ability to outsource tasks. As creatives, we tend to think that we are the only ones who can handle certain tasks, and we often stress about the cost of paying someone else to do something we can do ourselves. What we fail to realize is what successful business people know: time really is money. Success in finding the balance between time spent at work and time spent cultivating a happy lifestyle is knowing where to spend your money and where to spend your time. If someone else can do the job at least 80 percent as well as you can, then you should seriously consider outsourcing it, whether that means sending it to a person or using technology to handle the task. Web design, SEO, newsletters, retouching, marketing, social media posts, book keeping, and scheduling are all areas that can be handled by someone else. Build these costs into your cost of doing business and outsource to a service provider, sub-contractor, or employee. Instead of wincing at the price, consider that the more time you have free, the more time you can spend on the things that actively make you money. This is a win-win in the work-life balance endeavor, because the result will either be more time, or more money.

After spending the hours learning later.com it now was time to pass that responsibility to someone else. While I certainly can handle the work, it’s not the best use of my time. Understanding the system allows me to set standards and monitor the efficiency of the individual managing that task now. 

Feed Your Soul

So much time is spent trying to make work successful that we often neglect to do the things that make us happy, healthy people. Whether it's more time at the gym, hanging out with friends, meditating in the morning, volunteering for a charity, hiking with family, or reading a good book with a glass of wine, you have to spend time doing the things that feed your soul. People who are happier and more content are more productive. Taking care of yourself is better for you, better for your loved ones, and better for your business. If you aren't a priority in your own life, everything else will begin to crumble.

These tips have the common theme of time management, because time is your most valuable resource. It's limited and precious, and the only thing you cannot get more of. I think my staff would laugh if they read this line…it’s really my mantra around the office: working smarter,  not harder- is the key to finding the balance between your work and your life. Sharply defining your definition of success and ruthlessly pairing away anything that doesn't actively contribute to that goal is merely a way to organize where you spend your time. Recognizing that time is the true measure of what is important is the first step in catching the unicorn and finding the balance.

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4 Tips to Onboard Your Clients the Right Way

By the Team at Aisle Planner

As a wedding professional, your client experience really starts with your initial consult. Yes, your website, social media presence, and press set the stage, but it’s not until you actually have a signed contract in hand that the real work starts. However, even before the ink dries or the initial deposit has been paid, your new clients are going to expect nothing but the best!

So today, we wanted to share our tips about making a rock star first impression with a clear onboarding process. Designing a thorough onboarding process as a way to kick off your client experience is not only good for your clients, it’s good for your business!

(1) Create an Onboarding System

Just like everything else about your business, you need to have a formal onboarding process for your couples and clients. So, put yourself in the same mindset as you would if you were building out a process to bring on a new employee. Start by documenting things like:

  • An internal checklist of the initial items your client’s need to complete once their contract is signed, including filling out a questionnaire, discussing payment due dates, who they need to meet on your team, as well as how to contact them, etc.
  • What programs your couples will be using (like Aisle Planner) when working with you
  • Instructions on how to access those programs as well as overviews of what they are for
  • Dates, milestones or phases to “reach” throughout the process, whether it’s a six month count down, one month countdown, or a “week-of” must-do list.

Once you have everything mapped out, you can create the formal onboarding process as well as the documents you need to support it. Create welcome emails and packets, contact sheets, and the notes and tips they will need to successfully use any systems you will be collaborating on during the planning process.

(2) Communicate Your Planning Process

Even though you and your team may know your planning process like the back of your hands, it is entirely new to your couples. So, whether you explain your overall process over coffee or in an email, take the time to create a high-level overview of what they can expect to work on with you and when, including specific dates and timeframes. Doing so will not only reduce client anxiety, overwhelm or overload, it will help keep you and your team on track each month, since you have proactively laid things out with an action-based to do list.

(3) Set Boundaries and Expectations

The most effective way to ensure you stay on track throughout the entire planning process is to simply set boundaries and manage client expectations from the get-go. So, before kicking off the planning process, each of your couples should clearly know:

  • What your working hours are (be very specific about your day/s off and your request not to be contacted on that day or days)
  • How they can contact you (what channels you do and don’t respond to)
  • When they can contact you (while still letting them know they can always reach out in an emergency)
  • What defines an emergency (as planners, we’ve all had that one client who thinks a bounced invitation or second-thoughts on color choice is an emergency)
  • What your services include (and, just as important, what they don’t)
  • Who needs to be working on what! Clearly define what you and your team will handle, and what you need delegated to the bride, groom, and bridal party

(4) Start with a WOW!

Send a “congrats on your engagement!” card, treat them to lunch, surprise your bride with a subscription to Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, invest in big gift, like a Mrs. Box, to start your client’s experience with you and your brand with a WOW. These items may take a bit out of your bottom line, but the impression left on your clients is priceless. Remember, when things get stressful or overwhelming throughout the planning process, there is nothing quite like the trust factor, that you have your client’s backs, to help talk them down out of panic mode. The fastest way to build this trust from the start is to show you CARE, more than anyone else, about making their big day the best it can be. Treat them like they are your only client, and they will be forever grateful. 

The client experience as a whole looks however you decide, but it’s essentially a reflection of how you treat others and ultimately how you want others to perceive you. It’s how you talk to your clients, how you respond to their needs, and how you explain things that aren’t so obvious to your client but very obvious to you.” – Rhiannon Bosse

Looking for more tips? We find using a project management system, like Aisle Planner, to be the best way to establish a workflow and keep each of your client’s events organized, on track and on budget. Download our “Tips for Onboarding Your Clients to Aisle Planner” to find out more!

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The 3 Best Questions You've Never Asked a Prospect

Rachel Sheerin, She Sells

How are you? How’d you get engaged? Were you surprised? Are you bored yet?

That’s right, we’ve all asked these questions and we’ve all known deep down that brides & clients have heard these same questions from every other vendor since getting engaged. While we’re coming from a curious, sincere interest in their happiness, their story & their big day, these questions are equivalent to a big-old-yawn when it comes to the great questions you could be asking instead. I mean, you’re unique, your business is one-of-a-kind, so why aren’t you asking questions that reflect that?

Ask these 3 questions and never have a dull, average conversation with a prospect again:

How did you get started?

Yes, this could be similar to “How did you meet?” or “How did he propose” but this question is my favorite at ALL events because it brings people back to the beginning and sparks a story. As we know, the beginning of all stories is almost always full of joy, hope and excitement and that’s exactly the emotions you’ll evoke from your prospect when asking them how they got started. Whether t bridal shows or a professional networking event, ask this question and gain insight into someone’s life, motives, story and values instantly. Use this interesting & deep connection to assess if this client or partner is a good fit for you and your business.

How do you prefer I follow up with you?

This is a double-edged question with a dual purpose: Find out if this prospect is a good personality fit with you and know how they respond best. In the world of email, text, Facebook Messenger, and a good old fashioned phone call, asking prospects how they prefer to be communicated with can open you up to communicating in ways that make them happy, valued, heard and understood. Have a client that loves to text? Understand the challenge ahead (aka they may be hard to get a signed contract) so be sure to have an online contract they can fill out (no printing required!). All your clients Facebook-aholics? Shouting them out on your page may lead to more referrals. Remember: We’re here to serve clients and make it easy for them to say YES to us, so asking their preferred method and adjusting your pitch accordingly can spell out big returns!

What is your biggest fear about booking a (insert what you do here)?

Yes, fears are scary but we all have! If you’re an expert in DISC behavior profiling like me, you may know how to tell what people’s biggest fears by watching their behaviors, but if you’ve not yet been trained, asking your prospect can yield some very illuminating fears that can help you soothe their concerns. Some folks may be concerned about being ripped off (used car salesmen, style!) while others may be concerned about what their friends will think of their choice, or perhaps that they are not smart enough to make this decision and will suffer decision peralysis. Whatever their fears, asking them can provide your prospects with a sigh of relief by sharing them and having you massage their fears away. Sometimes people’s fears will be invalid or seem ridiculous to you, but it’s important to remember they’re real to your prospect and need to be relieved in order to get them to sign up for your great biz!

A final note about questions: Somewhere along in our life, we were scolded for asking too many questions. As a child, asking questions was so endearing, until asking too many questions (some of which our parents didn’t have answers to) was deterred and as adults, many of us never let go of the shyness that comes with asking questions.

I am here to adamantly share with you:

IF YOU NEVER ASK, YOU NEVER GET! 

Asking questions is literally just attempts at having a relationship that is honest & meaningful. That’s right: IF YOU ASK QUESTIONS OF SOMEONE, YOU CARE ABOUT THEM! And when you think about questions like that, well then, who wouldn’t want to get to know and care about someone? So get out there, start asking, & enjoy the rewards!

rachel sheerin
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BIG NEWS!

We are delighted to share that our very own Lindsay was selected as one of Special Events’ 25 Young Event Pros to Watch 2017!

It should come as no surprise to those that know her that Lindsay is an absolute delight to have on our team. She is eager to dive in where needed, forward-thinking and truly the catalyst for many of the innovative ideas that have played out with both Fantasy Sound Event Services and Wedding IQ.

A big proponent of industry involvement, Lindsay has spent 4 years on the NACE Silicon Valley Board, as well as three years on the local WIPA San Francisco board. This year, she took the leap and became the youngest event pro serving on the international board of WIPA. She has also been honored with NACE awards for the past four years, most recently being awarded Member of the Year for the local chapter.

In short, we couldn’t be prouder. Let’s all raise our virtual glasses today to our Lindsay!

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Tune into my workshop on Wedding Business Websites!

Wedding Business Websites

Thinking about diversifying your services in an effort to grow your business? Look no further! I was honored to be a part of the latest workshop on Wedding Business Websites and I'm delighted to share it with WeddingIQ readers. We dive into everything from identifying what new services are a fit (as well as which to avoid!) to best practices for communicating these changes to your market.

The workshop is only available through the end of Friday, so be sure to tune in before then! See the full workshop here!

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