Plan Ahead! Summer’s on its Way!
I doubt you’ll find many event planners who argue that summer isn’t the busiest time of the year for them. As those warm long days approach, you get more outdoor parties, weddings, corporate conferences… the list goes on. People come out of hibernation and are ready to celebrate, whatever the occasion!
As a planner, you’ve probably got some events already booked for the summer. Or at least I hope you do! But are you really ready for this busy season? Many planners struggle with their first summer on the job. They believe to have everything under control but the season tends to creep up on them. Call it a learning curve, and hopefully something we can help YOU avoid!
Keep things organized. It’s never too early!
I wish the job were called “event planner & organizer”. Why? Because it’s probably more about being well-organized than it is about being a good planner.
It’s never too early to plan for the busy season. After you’ve finished reading this article, take out all your task lists for the different events you’re working on, and throw them onto the same calendar. Identify any problem areas? Maybe you have six deadlines on the same day? Or maybe some travel overlap?
Identify those problem areas as quickly as possible so that you have time to plan around them.
Hire seasonal staff early
Many small businesses will hire seasonal administrative workers, co-op students or interns for their busy season. It’s something well worth looking into! If you know you’ll be a busy beaver for three straight months, can you hire a high-school student to help with envelope stuffing or keeping the office tidy? Maybe you want to hire an administrative assistant on a 3-month contract to help you with phones and emails? Or, if you have many events on the go, why not get an event planning student in to intern for you? They can help with things like décor and assist in client meetings while they continue to learn more about the industry.
The key here is not to wait until May to figure out you need one of these unsung heroes. If you want to get more staff for your busy season, you need to start the interview process now. Like, right now. It’s going to take you a while to find that right person, and at least a week or two to train them. Trust me, you’ll want to get this done BEFORE things get hectic!
Also, you won’t be the only person looking for staff. If you leave it ‘til the last minute, the best workers will have already been snatched up by your competition!
Set realistic expectations with your clients
We’ve talked before about how to establish a good working relationship with your event planning clients. A big part of that is keeping your clients in the loop and giving them a good sense of when they can reach you and when they can expect to receive updates from you.
If you anticipate a period of time when you’ll be busier than usual, odds are you’ll be tougher to reach during this time, and you’ll take longer to reply to emails, phone calls, etc. Fact is, being busier than usual is not your clients’ fault, and they’ll still expect a level of service from you.
So, the key here is to be direct with your clients and to let them know well in advance that your schedule will be a little hectic for a while. Let them know you still expect everything having to do with their event to be on time and budget (hopefully that’s the case!), but also inform them to expect delayed responses, etc… whatever you think *might* happen.
Get some help!
If you’re in over your head and you KNOW it, now’s the time to step up and admit it. Don’t try to muddle your way through, telling yourself you just won’t sleep for a few weeks and you’ll get everything done. (Hello, burnout!)
If you’ve identified some SERIOUS problem areas—such as two events occurring within weeks of each other that you won’t have time to properly execute on—see if you can find another local planner to help you out. Maybe they can partner with your company and take the lead on an event for a share of the revenue? Or maybe you can hire them outright as an independent consultant for an event?
Again, it’s so critical to approach these situations as soon as you anticipate a problem. Don’t wait until you’re a month out from an event, or in full crisis mode, to admit you need help. By then, it’ll be too late!