(Editor's note: Today's post comes courtesy of guest contributor Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events. Read more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)
When working with clients, setting expectations is of utmost importance. Not only does it prevent any boundaries from being crossed, but it is also a way to determine if you’re meeting (or exceeding) standards. While some may feel pressure from expectations, the truth of the matter is that no one can be happy without them – you’ll get stretched too far and clients will not be satisfied if you can’t meet unrealistic expectations.
Once the ink has dried on the contract, it’s important to put all expectations out in front so everybody is aware of their responsibilities. Focus on things like your business hours (and how flexible you are), best forms of communications and response time, level of involvement from all parties involved, and policies regarding weekend communication.
Remember – client relationships are a two-way street, so open communication is key. I’ve found that sending out a monthly schedule in the beginning of the month works well as it keeps us on the same page while serving as a good reminder for them to stay on task.
Now, we all know that things can get a little complicated when there are a lot of family members involved beyond the couple. Sometimes, there are just too many cooks in the kitchen! You’ll want to identify the key decision-maker from the get-go, as it will make it easier to communicate if you know who’s really calling the shots. While some couples may insist they make all decisions, others may rely on those who are paying or they may just want to hear a lot of opinions.
While happy to listen to questions and concerns of the family, it’s important for you to keep the couple as your priority. It is, of course, their wedding day. Let the family discuss opinions early on – sometimes, people just want to be heard and will be happy that their thoughts were considered. Do your best to stay impartial, while also being an advocate for the couple. While a great-aunt may love the idea of an over-the-top ballroom gala, if the couple wants a laidback barn wedding, they deserve to have their dream.
When talking with clients and their families, don’t ever assume or promise anything in the heat of the moment. Open your ears and put on your listening cap, but defer your thoughts until you can really get an idea of how to approach the situation. When you give yourself to think things through, it’ll be much more logical and rational which is better for the couple in the long run.
At the end of the day, you must always remember to take care of yourself and your company. Use your wise discretion to determine when an argument is not worth the battle and just let the client win, even if that means losing them. Clients are responsible for telling you what needs to happen and your job is to make it happen, but only within reason.
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.