Tips for Tackling Busy Event Season

We’ve arrived at that time of year again – the time where busy event season is officially in full swing and some of us may be relying on caffeine to get by. While peak season is truly a balancing act and mastering the art of productivity, it can be difficult to multi-task when weddings take over nearly every waking minute of your work day. Fortunately for us, there’s no better time to outline a strategy to ensure that you’re making the most out of your time at the office, in client meetings, and even during those precious moments of relaxation.

Staying organized

The ultimate key to success with a crowded schedule is learning how to stay organized. My go-to that keeps me from drowning (especially on days where we’re booked for multiple events) is block-scheduling. Whether you sit down at the beginning of your week and map out each day, or even going through your schedule for the day over your morning coffee, knowing what you’re responsible for helps tremendously.

Prioritize your time with to-do lists and make sure that you’re not stagnant in any of your projects. There are many apps that can help you with this, especially the Reminders app for iOS that allows you to set alarms and due-dates for each item to keep you on track. If you’re the type of person that needs a reminder for your reminders, this is perfect and it’ll prevent you from ever missing a client meeting.

Taking the time to breathe

Relaxing and unwinding after a long day is just as important as crossing off tasks from your daily to-do lists. Just like you would block off time for your employees or for an event, set aside time for yourself. You run the risk of overworking yourself without proper time for your social life and spending time with your family.

This is where block-scheduling also comes in handy. Normally, if something isn’t on my schedule, it simply doesn’t get done. If you find that you have to set a reminder to relax or read a book, don’t be ashamed in doing so! I’ve also found that travel time is the best time to decompress with Netflix or an audiobook, especially on flights without internet as a distraction.

How to maintain sanity

It’s easy to feel as if you’re being pulled in a million different directions during busy season, but there are ways that you can stay sane through it all. Something that I’ve personally found to help me do this is to start setting boundaries. Set them with your clients by not responding after hours, make sure your employees know when you’re unavailable, and most importantly – set boundaries with yourself. 

Know when to turn off your email, and understand that there are only so many hours in a work day! The pressure may be there to work extreme overtime (especially during busy season), but don’t beat yourself up if you have to move tasks to the following day. We can’t do it all, especially as business owners on top of everything else.

As important as it is to make sure that all of your bases are covered for your couples and your clients, running yourself ragged is the most detrimental thing you can do for your business. You won’t be performing at your best, and ultimately, it will show through in your work. Use these tips to keep a fresh mind and balanced schedule, and you’ll find that busy season is a lot less intimidating!

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

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5 Ways You are Missing Sales Opportunities

If you’ve noticed your sales ratios declining, it’s likely time to reassess your strategy and look for missed opportunities in your approach. There are a number of ways a business owner can fall short in their sales strategy, but they all end up with the same outcome: decreased revenue.

 

Are you ready to kick the bad habits and take your sales approach to the next level? Here are five ways that you may be missing sales opportunities — and what you need to do to turn it around.

 

You aren’t assessing past events.

When you look at completed events, you can see where your clients were spending money elsewhere. This can identify opportunities for upselling, as long as it’s a product or service that meshes well with what you already offer. In terms of floral design, we have no business discussing stationery or gobo lights, but we can guide our clients in the right direction in terms of chargers, linens, and other table décor features. The key is to think creatively, while staying in your lane.

 

Your website isn’t updated.

There aren’t many wedding pros that love working on their website. I get it, it’s not glamorous and it certainly isn’t helping you get through your real work. However, this simple maintenance task is a must for bringing in new leads. Be diligent and have your information readily available. Include your phone number, email address, and physical address if you have a storefront. Don’t be secretive about these things; people will contact you how they feel most comfortable and, if you’re not giving them options, they will likely look elsewhere. I also like to include a part in my contact form about the best way to communicate with me; I do this for transparency so any prospect will know the quickest way to reach me.

 

Your peers don’t know what you offer.

If you offer additional items beyond your flagship service, use your network to your advantage. Make sure that your creative partners know about those things so that they can share it with their clients. Collaboration is the ultimate sales opportunity because it can happen organically without much effort. I love working with planners who know I provide linens, too — they know that I can get to the venue early and drop the linens before all of the rentals event get there. It becomes a mutually beneficial relationship because we can pick up where the other leaves off.

 

You think the sale is over with a signed contract.

This is one of the most missed sales opportunities, as it doesn’t happen in the prospecting or negotiation stages. Just because the client is booked doesn’t mean you need to stop selling. There are many chances for upselling your products or services to provide your client with a more holistic experience while also boosting your bottom line.

 

Lay the groundwork during the prospecting phase by mentioning possible upgrades. Then, use it as a touchpoint down the line to bring in extra rentals, a custom fixture, or an add-on service. For example, as a floral provider, we prioritize centerpieces — once those are situated, I’ll shift the conversation to upgraded linens to complete the look.

 

You aren’t evaluating your sales and marketing efforts.

If you don’t know what works and what doesn’t, your sales approach isn’t sustainable. You need to take the time to understand the analytics for your website to determine where people are coming from and address issues like a high bounce rate or low clickthrough rate. You cannot be effective in sales if you don’t see your consumers’ behavior. Use vanity URLs and UTM parameters to your advantage; create landing pages in order to track where people are coming from. For example, something as simple as www.yourwebsite.com/BridalShow19 will show you the success of your outreach.

 

If you identified with one or more of these situations, commit to changing your business operations in order to address the issue. Any improvement to your sales strategy is another step closer to an efficient and sustainable future for your business.

 

Katie Easley is the owner of Kate Ryan Design, a luxury floral and event design studio based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also a top sales consultant in the wedding industry, specializing in prospecting and client experience.

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Traits of a Respectable Leader

Many people think of leadership as a talent, but it’s actually a skill. It’s something that anyone can hone with the right amount of practice and thoughtfulness. However, it does take time to strengthen those qualities and become a truly effective and respectable leader. Strong leadership skills are useful in countless situations, from getting the kids to bed peacefully to mediating between difficult employees to running a local industry association.

In order to become an effective and respected leader, there are a number of qualities you need to polish and emanate in your day to day life.

Approachability

Some leaders believe that the only way to gain control of a situation is through intimidation and fear tactics. While this method may get you what you want, it won’t come easily and it causes team members to feel disengaged and overwhelmed. Instead, focus on promoting strong communication skills throughout your organization. An open door policy tells your team that they can be honest and straightforward with you, and you’ll find that companies tend to see more growth when they foster an authentic and approachable environment.

Commitment

Employees learn by observation, so it’s essential for leaders to remain committed to their company’s brand values. Live by your mission statement and teach your team to do the same. Commit yourself not just to the brand, though; be a champion for your team at large. After all, they are your main source of representation. Take the time to teach them new skills and take them to industry events. Invest in their futures and do everything possible to show them that they are a part of your team.

Gracefulness

Effective leadership requires a person to be prepared for whatever comes their way. Both in business and in life, tough times happen unexpectedly. This can catch your team off-guard and, if left unchecked, can have a negative impact on morale. However, a leader that can exemplify grace and steadfastness will show his or her followers that there’s no reason to worry. It’s important to be able to think fast in a crisis situation and, as a leader, the buck stops with you. Stay resolute in finding a solution and assure your team that everything is handled. 

Organization

Organization trickles down through a company, as does disorganization. If your employees seem to be working with no rhyme or reason, it can likely be traced up the hierarchy. Implement streamlined SOPs and employ technology to simplify everyday processes. Not only will this save your team time and energy, but it will also ensure consistency and accountability throughout your business.

Fun

Alright, perhaps not all leaders are fun — but the most engaging ones know how to lighten up the mood. Remember that your team is made up with individuals with distinct moods and needs; keep the negativity out of the workplace and look for ways to build in some stress-relieving entertainment for your employees to enjoy. (You may have heard of Fantasy Sound’s famed Mario Kart contests or our annual fantasy football league!) At the end of the day, happy team members are more committed and productive than their downtrodden counterparts. Make it a point to put a smile on all of the faces that you encounter within your organization. 

The success of a company can often be traced back to the effectiveness of the manager’s or president’s leadership skills. Focus on the effect that you have on your team, and recognize that your influence has a direct impact on your bottom line. After all, great leaders develop great followers, in turn leading to great client service and relationships.  

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 current international president for WIPA.

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Commit to These 5 Questions for Prospecting This Year

Sales is a tricky business — from finding new leads to closing the sale, it relies heavily on tapping into the psychology of your ideal client and understanding how to reach them on a personal level. Many factors go into a successful booking and, as event professionals, it’s important to push yourself to continuously assess and pivot your strategies for maximum effect.

 

Here are five questions that will guide you to become better at prospecting this year and beyond. Get ready to watch the leads flow in.

 

1.     How would you describe the clients that you love working with most?
Think about the people you’ve worked best with in the past — what do they have in common? Digging into your ideal client can seem tough, but if you relate it to past positive experiences, you’ll have an easier time identifying the right client for you.

When speaking with prospects, I look for someone that trusts me and the process. They can and should lead the design direction, but I avoid those who seem like micro-managers. From my experience, that has always led to headaches down the line.

The more you can glean from your positive (and negative) experiences, the better you will understand who you truly love working with.

2.     Are you reaching those prospects through the best outlets?
Once you have a solid answer to the first question, it’s time to evaluate your outreach efforts. If you realize you prefer working with older clients on their second marriage or same-sex couples, for example, it might not make sense to continue advertising on the same platforms or you may need to change your ad parameters.


Take a moment to understand your ideal client and address your prospecting strategies accordingly. I’ve found success in geofencing with targeted Facebook ads around wedding events directed towards couples, but it’s important that they attract my ideal client – a couple with traditional taste but want an edge of creativity. Tailor your marketing efforts to avoid attracting the wrong clients.

3.     How consistent are your prospecting strategies?
Consistency is key when it comes to prospecting in the wedding industry. It can be tricky to reach your ideal client in such a noisy space – in fact, it can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. That’s why it’s essential to stay top of mind with everyone. You never know where someone is in the buying process.  An engaged couple could be putting off their wedding planning for personal reasons and you never know when they’ll be ready to get the ball rolling. When they are, you want them to think of you first.

4.     How much time are you spending on prospecting?
Even the best of intentions and the most strategic ideas won’t come to fruition if you’re not allocating enough time to prospecting. It’s understandable that prospecting is pushed to the backburner when client work is your priority, but if your goal is to build a profitable and sustainable business, you have to make time for sales.


Schedule an appointment with yourself and put it on the calendar — then stick with it. During the first week of the month, I book as many lunches as I can and make sure that there are two or three days in a row when I’m only out meeting and interfacing with people.

5.     Do you know where your leads are coming from?
Knowing what works and what doesn’t is the key to a sustainable business. Always take the time to ask your new leads open-ended questions about their research process and how they are making vendor decisions. Understanding how they learn about vendors will guide you to replicate successful outreach strategies in the future. If Facebook ads seem to be a big factor for many of your leads, you’ll be well prepared to transform your sales efforts in the next year.

 

Client prospecting is a big task and requires time and effort to narrow down the oversaturated market into real, qualified leads that fit in with your brand. However, you can rest assured that persevering and continuing your sales push will show tenfold in your profit margins. Stick with it and always be prepared to pivot.

 

Katie Easley is the owner of Kate Ryan Design, a luxury floral and event design studio based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also a top sales consultant in the wedding industry, specializing in prospecting and client experience.

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Figuring Out Which Business Processes Work for You and Your Team

Owning a business can involve a bit of trial and error when it comes to implementing internal processes to keep everything running smoothly. Client communication, employee training, standard operating procedures (SOPs), you name it – none of these things would be possible without a strategy set in place. We asked a few industry pros what they’ve done to streamline (including how their business has changed since they first began).

Don’t leave your team in the dark

Since we were the first ones at the helm of our own growing companies, it can be tempting to want to shoulder all of the work and DIY your way towards success. However, your skills are often better suited by putting in valuable time with clients, and you’ll never see growth if you can’t trust your own employees to get the job done.

Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map says that her business began without systems entirely. “In the beginning, I was a solopreneur. Being the only person taking on everything, the systems didn't have to be documented. With growing my team, I've had to go through and document my standard operating procedures (SOPs). It took time, but it was so helpful in training my team.”

What to test and what to tweak

Existing structures you have in place may have been a great choice when you first started your business, but as you reach a certain client base and team capacity, they may start to seem rather outdated. You don’t necessarily have to throw out everything, but adjusting small things here and there such as introducing new technology to your staff and/or clients can make a world of a difference. Emily Sullivan, owner of Emily Sullivan Events says that this can come in the form of apps that offer online contract signing and invoices to keep everything efficient and automated. 

Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers agrees, noting, “Even when you think that you may not necessarily need to make any changes in your business, your clients and employees may feel differently. We personally look for trends in our external and internal feedback to decide what we want to improve on next.” 

Understand what’s not working (and how to fix it)

Knowing when it’s time for change is the first step, but sometimes it doesn’t always work how you’d like it to. Software that comes with a complicated learning curve sometimes isn’t worth the small bit of relief it provides. Being receptive to constructive criticism is often key to knowing where the issues are! If the adjustments you’ve made don’t seem to be working, it’s worth it to keep working toward a seamless automation.

Tarrant continues, “My customer on-boarding process was okay – not great, but better than most. I was busy and didn’t really have the time to make it a priority. In teaching my newest team member the process, she pointed out opportunities for improvement and made all the changes to the original process. Now, we get applauded by our customers for our on-boarding!”

From making your mobile website easier to navigate for clients to transitioning to a new software that makes your services overall more accessible, you’re responsible for how your services and processes are put in place. Growing within an evolving industry shows that you care about staying relevant and becoming a leader that other professionals look up to!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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