Producing with Short Turnaround Times

As event professionals, we aren’t always fortunate enough to have months of lead time to plan for an event. From funerals to luncheons and birthday parties to rehearsal dinners, we’re sometimes expected to throw together a successful event in a matter of weeks — or days, even.

With the right systems in place, you don’t need to turn away business simply because a prospect is requesting a short turnaround time.

Personally, there has never been a time frame that has caused me to say no. I will always do what I can — we’ve had people give us a day’s notice, and we’ll make it happen. I’ve even sourced 250 toads (yes, toads!) for a last-minute funeral request. Our clients have a vision, and we must achieve it the best we can, given our parameters. 

However, there are some factors to consider when agreeing to an event with a short time frame. After all, you need to protect your business and your employees first.

1. Set limitations.

When there’s a tight turnaround for an event, there’s no doubt that we can make something happen. However, there are limits to our capabilities based on the time frame, and our clients must be aware of that.


For example, there are time constraints when it comes to sourcing seasonal flowers and rentals, so we generally have to get our products local. We may not be able to get those colorful tropical flowers by tomorrow, but we will do what we can with what we have to convey the same message. Likewise, the perfect farmhouse table from four states away may not be doable — but we’ll find the next best thing that’s in town.

2. Charge accordingly.

Rush events take time away from your other projects and can cause quite a bit of stress, so don’t be afraid to tack those impacts onto the bill. We always upcharge for last-minute requests because, at that point, we are working overtime to make something happen.

We go out of our way to source resources and hire additional staff in a short amount of time, so there needs to be some compensation. Communicate this extra cost upfront so your client understands the amount of effort that will go into their event. Then, track your hours and expenses and make sure that you are still making a profit at the end of the day.

3. Create a streamlined process.

You will be far more prepared for a last-minute request if you already have a system that runs like clockwork. Most importantly, you must have reliable vendors that you trust will follow through with every little request. Your team must be willing to work with you to achieve a client’s vision, no matter the time frame.

You also need to be sure that your company has the proper amount of resources to execute a rush event — that goes for equipment, assets, and human resources. As long as you have the necessities available, all you need to do is create streamlined processes to produce things like contracts, CAD files, and other documents. The whole idea is to simplify your workflow, so you don’t need to put extra thought and effort into the planning process.

4. Ensure your contract is ironclad.

You need a solid contract to protect you, your team, and your company. Whether a client is refusing to pay or demanding for a design overhaul on event day, your contract will be there to back you up. Before you begin any work, each client must sign off on your terms and agree to everything outlined in your contract.

If you haven’t already, take your contract to your lawyer or another trusted legal professional who can review and revise as needed. Let them know your concerns about specific situations (like last-minute requests, for example) and discuss how to best handle that from a legal perspective. A contract doesn’t mean you can’t bend when you want to — it just safeguards you when you cannot.

When it comes down to it, the key to successfully executing an event in a short time frame is preparation. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Don’t wait until the client is knocking on your door with a next-day birthday party. Have the plan in place so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when that does happen. Then, you’ll never have to turn away the last-minute business again.

Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, California, that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.


Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Elevating Customer Service and Event Budgets

Your customer experience has a direct impact on your company’s success, as satisfied customers are quick to refer your business and return to you if they need your service again. We move mountains to make sure our clients are happy and pleased with our creativity, design, and customer service. 

If you treat your customers well, it will elevate your reputation which will in turn. Reciprocate clients that you like to work with. Referrals are invaluable in the events industry, so start building those leads by going above and beyond for current clients. Here are a few ways to elevate customer service and make a long-lasting impact on each of your clients. 

Get to know them 

This may go without saying, but you need to know your customers truly. We make a point to get to know our clients and ask them questions about their lives and their families. Over the years, our customer service has become more personal. You need to know more about your clients to serve them better. What do they value the most? How can you meet them on that level? 

For example, we recognized that convenience was a priority for many of our clients. Knowing that we have changed our invoicing process and client portals, as well as providing access for clients to order just about anything on their smartphones. There are still some who prefer the old-fashioned way, so we accommodate them with paper invoices, and it keeps them comfortable. The customer is always right, so do what is best for them. 

Communicate thoroughly 

A large part of customer service is accessible. If you’re not returning phone calls within 24 hours, your clients will start to look elsewhere. Therefore, you must be prompt at responding to inquiries and sending out proposals. Make sure that what you do, say, and delivery is always personal and the best of your ability. In addition to digital communications, we also send a formal presentation in the mail on high-end stationery. For most customers, it’s the presentation that matters, and your delivery needs to be top-notch customer service. 

Check in often 

If you have a customer service team or even just a few employees that are client-facing, it’s important to touch bases often to keep tabs on different accounts. We have a production meeting every Tuesday, in which we all sit down and go over each event and our client’s needs. Discuss customer service experiences and look for ways that the team can improve as a whole. Meeting regularly lets you keep a thumb on the pulse, while also allowing you to track your team’s progress. 

More than anything, kindness is key. As creatives, we become a part of our clients’ lives. We are here to make those special days as perfect as possible. Our clients put trust in us to execute their vision, so we need to remain respectful and friendly at all times. 

If we hold ourselves and our staff to a higher standard, our clients will reciprocate and spread the word through family friends and loved ones. As long as everyone receives the same elevation of service, you can rest assured that you’ve done your job well.   

Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, California, that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers. 


Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Using the Off-Season to Build Client Experience

(Editor's Note: Today on the blog, we welcome the return of frequent guest contributor Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events! Read more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)

Your client experience is, essentially, your business. By treating your clients well and going above and beyond with them, you open your company up to positive testimonies and potential referrals.

Oftentimes, the peak season can keep us so busy that above-and-beyond isn’t in the scope – if anything, you just want to make ends meet. Sound familiar? If so, then it may be time to take this upcoming off-season to get organized and streamline your client experience.

As your year’s weddings wind down and you find more time for development, take a step back and analyze your overall client experience. If you have a former client who you trust will be truthful, consider reaching out to pick their brain. Ask yourself:

  • When does your client experience start?
  • When does it end?
  • How are your communication habits with clients?
  • Do you generally receive good feedback?
  • Do you keep in touch with your clients after the wedding?

The answers to these questions should not only give you an idea of where you currently are, but also guide you to further steps you can take to improve the client experience. For example, if you routinely send phone calls straight to voicemails, it may be time to kick the habit and start answering those calls. Communication is key to a positive experience, so don’t assume that great work will balance out your lack of email responses. Be professional and treat your clients the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.

One of our favorite ways to build client experience is to simply stay in touch after our agreement ends. Planning a wedding is one of the most intimate things one can do and, after working with a couple for a length of time, we like to consider them as our friends. This could mean keeping track of their birthdays and sending a sweet card or even sending over a small gift for their one-year anniversary. If you’re more of the digital type, it could even be as simple as a shout out on social media – anything to show that you care!

The perk of developing these client experience procedures during the off-season is that you’ll be primed and ready to use them once the wedding season starts back up. If, for example, birthday cards are your thing, be sure to grab their birthdays from the initial consultation. If you’re more into the anniversary idea, mark your calendar for one year from their wedding date.

Although you’re probably pumped to spend your weekends enjoying the latest Netflix offerings or jumping on a plane to somewhere tropical, be sure you’re taking advantage of your off-season to grow your business as well. You’ll be grateful you did once peak season rolls around!

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor'd Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.

How to Sell Weddings on the Weekend (When You Happen to Work Weddings All Weekend)

How to Sell Weddings on the Weekend (When You Happen to Work Weddings All Weekend)

Couples: "We’d love to meet with you on the weekend to plan our weekend wedding that only happens on one weekend of our entire lives."

You: "I’d love to meet with you sometime during the week because I work almost every weekend on weddings that occur only on the weekend."  

I kid, but the struggle is real, for you and for your potential clients. You may not work every weekend or every day of the weekend, but let’s face it, you might want a weekend off every once in awhile or to recover from a long day by relaxing. It’s difficult to schedule meetings in this 9-to-5 (and exceedingly 9-to-9) culture when your business hours are slightly more ambiguous or the opposite of most of society's schedule. You also don’t want to fall in the trap of working seven days a week just to appease your clients, or neglect to schedule time off so you can recharge and get back to the grind the following week.  

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Meeting Techniques for Making the Sale

Meeting Techniques for Making the Sale

(Editor's Note: We're closing out the week with this great guest post from Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. Read more about Kevin at the end of the post, and be sure to check back Monday for a special announcement regarding WeddingIQ!)

These days, the bottom line isn’t solely about having great products or services and making sure people know about them. Sales play an incredibly important role in the conversion of “I like you guys!” to “I want to book you!”
In fact, selling starts as soon as a potential client shows interest- from the ease of contacting you to the look of your office when they first walk in the door (that’s right- time to find a new home for all those mason jars peeking out from around the corner!).  It should be your top priority to make sure prospects look forward to your meeting.

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