As the year comes to a close, many event professionals find themselves at a point of reflection, drawing similar conclusions: that there simply is not enough time in the day.
While marketing and sales is often at the forefront of business planning, shifting one’s focus to streamlining the business itself, is a favored strategy embraced by those looking to improve efficiencies, and give themselves a competitive advantage.
Not sure where to start? Focus on the below tips to ensure success:
1. Invest in project management software
Have a million to do’s? Do you find yourself stumbling upon long-forgotten post it notes with imperative information? Can’t seem to stay connected to employees who may be working virtually? Then consider cloud-based project management software, an often cost-effective online solution that allows you to share tasks, documents and conversations in one central database.
And while programs such as Basecamp, Podio and Smartsheet are popular among business owners, there are a number of options on the market customized to fit the needs of event professionals.
2. Create internal systems
Dedicate an hour or two each week during the off-season to create and fine-tune standard operating procedures for your event business. Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Simply start with the basics and ask yourself, if you were to win the lottery tomorrow and jump a plane to an exotic locale, what are some of the initial how to’s you’d want laid out for someone to follow in your footsteps?
Then, consider where you are spending most of your time and ask yourself how you can improve upon it?
For Christine and Rich Yodsukar, owners of filmmaking studio The Yodsukars, a considerable portion of their office time was spent on customizing proposals for clients. And it’s with that, that Rich created a behind-the-scenes web calculator allowing them to cut their proposal time from an hour to less than 15 minutes each.
“We were quickly realizing that our time could be put to better use,” says Christine. “It was ultimately a great lesson for us on the necessity of prioritizing the streamlining process.”
3. Develop an internship program
Event interns can be a tremendous addition to your team, giving you the opportunity to knock out an often endless to do list, while offering hands-on knowledge young professionals need to pursue careers in the wedding and events industries
Developing an internship program takes a degree of planning. First, outline your current “to do’s” and decide which could possibly to relegated to an intern, should you find the right fit. Consider what qualities you’re looking for, as well as general must-haves. From there, write up a general job description and connect with area colleges and universities to find the best way to promote your opening.
For Paula and Martin Ramirez, proprietors of Virginia event venue, Historic Mankin Mansion, an internship program also offered them the opportunity hire planners from within.
“When we are in a position to add to our planning team, we can now look first to past and present interns to see who may be a fit,” shares Paula. “With this scenario, we have had the opportunity to qualify them over a length of time, which makes all the difference.”
4. Delegate, delegate, delegate
Those aspiring to be a proverbial jack-of-all-trades will quickly realize that they are simply masters of none. The art of delegation is an imperative skill and for event professionals, now is the time to think above and beyond the usual opportunities to delegate such as graphic design, accounting and virtual assistants.
Corporate planners Amy Green and Melanie Marconi of BDI Events did just that. After countless conversations with wedding professionals that the task of room block negotiations was frustrating and daunting at best, the two launched Where Will They Stay, a room block procurement service for the wedding industry.
“Planners simply send us the basic information and we leverage our buying power to give them the best rates possible,” explains Amy. “Our hope for our clients is that they can take this additional ‘to do’ off of their list, allowing them to focus on what they love to do the most.”
Streamlining your event business will take time and dedication, but with the above strategies in place, your efforts will no doubt pay dividends.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting, based in Henrico, Va. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.