Candice Coppola: Ask Me Anything!
Back in January, we hosted our first ever AMA with QC tutor Candice Coppola. Our followers flocked to Facebook to ask Candice questions about everything from pricing their services to handling bickering clients.
Missed out? Not to worry! We’ve recapped some of the biggest questions Candice answered about the business of event planning.
Q: Is there a place where a sample of event “a la carte” prices are listed?
A: I’m not aware of any, as businesses develop their own a la carte menu based on the services they offer. If you are looking to develop an a la carte menu, you should first start with things your clients have asked for. Sometimes I see businesses adding a la carte services that clients just don’t want or need—or the service is just not worth the time you invest. If there is a demand for something, meet it by adding a service to your repertoire.
Q: How can I get my business’s name up on Google search?
A: That is a complicated question to answer! Your Google ranking is determined by a number of factors, all related to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can be very complicated, but to understand it, I recommend looking up SEO basics online so you can get a good foundation of what it entails. There are a lot of great companies that do branding, web design/development, and search engine optimization so that your website will be one of the first to appear on Google when someone types in specific keywords. SEO is truly a beast!
Q: Whenever you have a consultation with two strong willed clients with very different wishes for their wedding and reception, how do you get them to meet in the middle and compromise with each other?
A: Sometimes, sadly, it can’t be done. But the best advice I can give you is to listen. Really, really listen to what they are both saying. Understand what is important to each, and work with them so that both clients get what they want in the end. I often say, they’re going to be spending a lifetime learning to compromise in their marriage—they may as well start now!
Q: How do you handle friends/family that want your services and inventory for free or for a very low reduced cost?
A: This one is easy for me to answer: I don’t. I don’t work for free and I don’t expect anyone else to, either! You are running a for profit business (…. like all of us!!!) and your time is worth something. I find that people tend to respect the job you do more when they are paying you to do it. I don’t recommend working for free—family or not!
Q: How do you break off working with a vendor without offending them?
A: Great question! If you have an established relationship with this vendor, then you should tell them your concerns. They can take or leave your advice, but as business owners, sometimes we don’t realize that we’ve screwed up. Sometimes, we need someone to tell us that we made a mistake or made a client angry. I’m always honest with my vendors, especially those I have a relationship with. If it’s someone who you don’t have a relationship with then just stop referring business to them. If they ask, you can certainly tell them why!
Q: What does it take to get your work published in an industry publication?
A: This is a great question! Here are several brief tips on getting published:
- Your work needs to be magazine-worthy, including the photography. When flipping through the pages or reading a blog, does your work compare with what they publish?
- Relationships go a long way. Some publications have a “pay to play” relationship and only publish their advertisers’ work. Relationships are more than just advertising—you want to develop relationships with magazine editors and make sure they know who you are.
- Follow the submission guidelines to a T; every publication is different, and the instant kiss of death is not submitting your content in the right format and to the right department.
Q: I’m having trouble coming up with a good business name. Do you have any pointers?
A: A business name is so important and I’ve seen very talented people who’ve chosen poor business names, which ends up costing them money and clients. I can give you the process I took to come up with my business name—which was first developing my business plan, understanding what my business was going to be and who my target market was. Knowing those pieces helped to guide me in choosing a name that would embody the brand I wanted to build and appeal to my target market.
I used my old-school thesaurus to research and alternate words until I found what worked for me! Spend time doing the research—having to rename your business down the road is not very fun and you lose a lot of brand recognition. Take the time now to do your research and determine the right name for you!
Q: I don’t feel confident enough to start my own business with no professional experience, but without professional experience there’s slim chance of being hired! How do you break into the industry? When applying for jobs, what’s going to get me hired?
A: You may want to first seek out a position at a fabulous wedding venue in your area, which could be a great way for you to gain experience. You can also inquire whether other event planning companies in your area are hiring. The best route to take with local event planning companies is to learn more about each of them and determine if they’ve given specific instructions for those seeking employment to contact them (i.e. don’t just blind call an event planning company asking for a job).
Many event planning companies are small businesses, and I speak on behalf of my own small business when I say we only hire people who’ve interned with us for a wedding season to ensure it is the right fit. You may want to reach out and ask if there are any internship opportunities available so you can learn, gain experience, and work toward a position within that company. I hope that is helpful!
Q: Do you recommend starting my own business right away or getting experience first by working for someone else? Do you find that getting experience in the industry first might help create a more successful personal business later?
A: Everyone’s career path is different; some individuals enter the industry working for a company and others choose to open up their own business. It’s hard to say which is the right path for you. I can tell you that both have their benefits and both have their unique challenges.
If you’d like to get into business for yourself, one thing to remember is that being a business owner must always come before the job you do in that business. If you love the idea of creating a company and working on that company then perhaps being a business owner is the right choice for you. If you prefer to plan and design events, working for someone else, then seeking employment opportunities might be a better fit. Only you will know the answer to this!
I speak from my own experience, in that I opened my business with no experience in the industry. I did a lot of research, learned as much as I could, got lucky, and developed a knack for working both on and in my business. But that’s me. You may find that you need to gain experience in the industry before you set out to establish your own company. There is no right or wrong way to get your career going—you just have find the right path for you!