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Posts Tagged ‘client relationships’

So, a new client is referred to you several months ago. It comes from a reputable source, and you’re feeling flattered.

You arrange a time to meet, but new client cancels at the last minute.

OK.

You sweep it under the rug, as she was referred by a former client whom you love.

First meeting eventually transpires after a few weeks.

She arrives late, clothing & hair appear disheveled, and her demeanor is bit out of sorts. To put it bluntly, she’s not really present.

She’s fussing with her blackberry, fidgeting in her seat, and unable to keep any level of eye contact.

No big deal, right? We all have off days, and she’s probably just really overwhelmed with all of the details & decisions that go into creating a wonderful wedding day.

Just keep on lying to yourself.

With no real focus on her part, the task at hand becomes BIG.

So, aren’t you dying to know what ends up happening?

Major Wasted Time. {surprise}

You spend so much mental energy talking this client down from odd-ball elements that make no sense, that you feel like charging the ‘referral source’ for the counseling sessions you’ve lined up for weeks.

In the end, the wedding is a total hodge podge.

Exactly as she wants it. And, she seems really happy about it all. Which in the end is all that matters.

Though, there’s still very little eye contact.

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You want to establish a genuine, authentic relationship with your client.

You want them to know that you support their decisions, that you’ll guide them in the right direction, and that their event is a top priority.

They’ll share many personal secrets, and fairytale wishes with you.

You guard this intimate information, never thinking of spilling the beans.

 Your duty is to be their confidante, to be the non-judgmental sounding board.  

So, when you’re going through your own personal crisis {pregnancy, moving, staffing issues, client drama}, how much do you share, if at all?

It’s a fine line that many wedding vendors get trapped crossing.

And once you go down that road of sharing, there’s NO TURNING BACK.

You can’t take back the comment you made in passing about a vendor that gave you a raw deal, or the bridesmaid that was a complete bitch, or the flake client that won’t pay their balance.

It’s crucial that you develop a professional and friendly relationship, but that you make a pact with yourself, and your staff as to where to draw the line.

Do you really want your client to know where you live? Where you like to hang out, and let your hair down?

Time and Place is the best advice to follow.

Be Authentic, and Bite Your Tongue.

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Could this not be the most defeating scenario of them all?

You’re duly prepared for the initial meeting, conversation flows, details are discussed, there’s a meeting of the minds. It’s like you’ve been friends forever.

And then, NADA.

Naturally, you start to question everything. 

Your growing neurosis is now in the driver’s seat.

Did I push too much? Not enough? Was my conversation professional, or just plain diarrhea of the mouth?

Did the follow-up email seem needy or desperate after the initial meeting?

Was wearing those new blinged-out Gucci sunglasses showing too much gluttony?

It’s time to pull the car over.

Stop second guessing yourself.

Realistically review what when down.

The meeting? It really did go well. The follow-up email? It was professional, succinct and timely.

You even invited them to share how they’d like to proceed by a specific date.

There’s a fine line between assertiveness and smothering. You want them to bite, but on their own accord.

Just Move On.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to just refocus. On current clients, customer service, perfecting those sales skills.

In the end, it’s their loss. Don’t take it personally.

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It seems certain brides truly believe that their opinion is GOSPEL .

Especially when it comes to sharing their personal interactions with a specific vendor.

Like – who to avoid, who’s way overpriced, who you can bully, who doesn’t walk their talk, who’s a diva.

You get the idea.

These free-flowing testimonials seem to be most apparent on certain message boards – where brides can remain anonymous, interact, share experiences, and spread the slag.

Of course, we all know their messages are based solely on personal opinion, and truly have no bearing on our business ideals or practices.

Yet, it’s difficult to ignore, especially when you know it’s going on.

One day you’re viewed as the Miracle Worker, an Angel among {wo}men, up for Sainthood.

And the next?  Well, you didn’t kiss someone’s ass enough, you didn’t provide enough of a discount, or you didn’t provide the same exact perks. This free press is really a double-edged sword.

So, what’s a Wedding Vendor Extraordinaire to do?

Seriously, how dare some nameless bride-to-be on a vengeance try to take your reputation down with her?

Your gut reaction may be to create a fake online profile. It’s anonymous, right?

You could become part of the gang, ask brainless questions, comment on other’s catastrophes in the making, and slyly throw in a few little bites of PR magic {focused on your business, of course}.

Revenge is sweet, no?

In all seriousness, this would never work. Who has the time, energy, or interest?

Don’t sink to their level.

Keep Your Message Consistent.

Watch what you promote on your site, in your marketing materials, on your twitter account, etc.

Sometimes the smallest thing can slip through the cracks, even on the most careful watch. 

Offering custom pricing or ranges seems to work best {for most vendors}.

Your costs, expenses, niche, and staffing needs could change very, very quickly depending on the client, event size, and season.

You need to be flexible enough to meet the changes your growing company will inevitably go through.

And you can rest easy, knowing that you are providing a service based on your own integrity, not just public opinion.

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This category of Smarty Pants Bride is starting to get really, really old.

Seriously, if you’ve already:

  1. Researched EVERY possible vendor, and received quotes…
  2. Created an air-tight timeline of your ceremony and reception…
  3. Mastered all the tricks of the trade…

Why are you even chatting with us? Clearly, you’ve got it all under control.

And we all know – EVERYTHING runs like clockwork at a wedding.

There’s never any timeline errors, snafus or bridal party melt-downs.

Just remember this…

We live in a REALITY BASED world, not the puffy cloud formation that you’ve created that cushions all of your Wedding Day plans.

Get Real.

If you want a professional, then TREAT us as such.

If you want to hire a step ‘n’ fetch – ask the catering or venue staff.

Our role is that little piece that Holds It All Together.

You know, the one that makes everything happen smoothly?

Bringing your vision to life doesn’t happen at the snap of your fingers.

Unless of course, you really do have a Fairy Godmother.

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OK, we just can’t take it anymore.

Whoever coined the term ‘Day of Coordination’ needs to shaken, not stirred.

It creates a false illusion of what is truly required to pull off a smoothly transitioned Wedding Day celebration.

Let’s think about this.

A wedding typically takes how long to plan? Let’s say 6 – 12 months.

But then the Bride wants to pay someone as little as possible {usually} to have them come in, Just for the Day, to pull it all together, and make it perfect?

Get Real.

Wedding Vendors are all about the relationships they build, with clients, staff, and amongst themselves.

We can’t absorb all the impressions, innuendos and details that you’re looking for – nor will we really get to know your personality, quirks or pet peeves – with one introductory phone call, a few emails, and a drive-by decor drop off date.

Rome wasn’t build in a day, and neither was your wedding.

Be Realistic. Hire a Professional. It’s one decision you’ll never regret.

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It can be difficult to talk a client down from a decision that they’re excited about.

No matter how stupid it seems to you. They want what they want, when they want it.

And if it sounds like a Real Deal, well they’re even more likely to jump on it!

As a wedding vendor, you just have to learn to deal with it.

A recent client asked for my opinion on booking a band for her wedding reception.

She’d seen a band playing live at a local indoor venue, and instantly fell in love.

She approached them to inquire if they played weddings, and would be available for her wedding reception.

They said ‘Yes!’, and that for 3 hours of play, the total cost would $500. This was for a 5 piece band.

So, I asked about their experience, references and pricing.

The answers she provided were somewhat frightening.

  • They’d never played a wedding before.
  • They were unfamiliar with the duties of an MC, but had stated that would be part of the overall cost.
  • They didn’t seem concerned with the sound quality while playing an outdoor backyard reception.
  • They just threw a price out, to see if she’d bite. {which she did}

She thought it ALL sounded good. I wanted to be kind, but also for her to see the true reality.

I asked her point blank, ‘Do you want to be the Guinea Pig wedding for this band?

 She seemed a bit perplexed.

So, I just reiterated that they could provide no references, no guarantee of sound quality.  No nothing really.

She was already sold on the band though, so my only advice to her was quite literally……Buyer Beware.

  • Be sure you have a solid contract that includes a clause that if the booking is not fulfilled in full, as outlined, that there is room for a partial refund.
  • Confirm that they can guarantee a back-up or plan B if one of their band members becomes ill or lost.
  • Outline your expectations of their behavior, and interaction with guests.
  • Verify if you need a permit from the city for outdoor entertainment.
  • Do not pay for their services in full before your wedding day.

The last thing you need is a stumbling vocalist, a drummer who hits on your bridesmaids, and the police showing up to ‘shut down’ the festivities due to excessive noise complaints.

Fingers crossed for this reception.

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