Why Should Clients Hire a Wedding Planner? (Part 2)
Follow up on QC Event School tutor Heather Vickery’s insights on the benefits of hiring a certified wedding planner. Heather is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.
If you missed Part 1, read it here!
As a professional event and wedding planner, you have buying power. This means that you have some ability to get better pricing from some vendors. I always remind my clients this does not mean I can make things cost less than they do (and let me be clear, I would never ask a vendor to just lower their price. That is unprofessional and rude – how would you feel if someone did that to you?), but I do ask the vendor to be creative in the approach with my clients. Where can we repurpose or scale back? I have some vendors who automatically offer my clients a 5%-15% discount. Why do they do this? Because they know that a client who is working with me is already vetted and will be more organized. They know that by working with me, their jobs will be easier and, oh, by the way, I have the ability to send lots of other clients their way – that gives me buying power.
While we are on the topic, vendor relations in general are an important element of your business and something you should share with potential clients at your consultation. You should be constantly working to build your network of vendors. This means attending industry events, making sales calls and introducing yourself to others. I suggest getting in deep with other wedding industry professionals by doing styled shoots or fundraising. Consider being part of an organization like Wish Upon a Wedding, ILEA, NACE, WIPA or ABC where you are able to give back to the community in a number of ways. Continue educating yourself and becoming more and more of an expert in the field.
When meeting with potential clients, I always remind them I am a “team player” and if they want to hire a specific vendor that I have not referred, I will happily work with them (as long as they are a legitimate business and are licensed). But I cannot give them my personal guarantee that the vendors will give the best product for the best price, fully understand and execute their vision, be 100% professional, show upon time etc… When clients hire a vendor from my network, I make the above promises.
It is also important to remember that your vendor network should be wide! Each client is unique and different, and their needs, budget and styles will be different as well. It is an important element of your job to match your client with the proper vendor(s) to meet their needs. This means you cannot use only one florist, photographer etc. This thought process can get you in big trouble fast. Make sure you are spreading the love and pairing the clients up with the correct vendor.
I always close my new client consultations by reminding them that there are a lot of planners out there. Here in Chicago, I know most of them and consider many of them dear friends. Truth is, many other planners are very good at their jobs. This is why personal connection is so important. They are essentially hiring you to be their confidant for the next 8 months to a year. You will be spending an immense amount of time together and you must have a mutual respect and like for one another.
I remind clients that although I would love to work with them, if they leave the meeting and don’t feel a “connection” with me then they should keep looking. That connection is the difference between them having a wonderful planning process and you having a client you enjoy working with.
Lastly, be sure to ask them questions. Learn about who they are and what they are looking for so that you can offer and show them that you are truly listening and able to meet their needs. Most importantly, be honest and authentic. This will draw the right clients to you and ensure that you feel good about the work you are doing and whom you are doing it with.
As always, Happy Planning!