Did you know that event planning is ranked among the top ten most stressful jobs according to CareerCast? We are on the list with soldiers and doctors! It is true that our industry is very time-intensive, and often the clients we choose can be demanding and unrealistic. However, it is my experience that most of this stress is a result of poor business practices and miscommunication in the beginning of the client relationship. Ouch! Let me explain …
First, independent event planners who own a business usually work extremely hard, especially in the early years, to create a brand, establish clients, and hire a team. Sometimes years go by and the exhausted owner is still holding on to the dream of “someday.” Someday I’ll get to go on vacations. Someday I’ll earn enough money to pay myself a good salary. Someday this will all be worth it. Meanwhile, they are in an industry notorious for sucking all their time and energy making sure everyone else is happy--this is the hospitality industry after all--often at the expense of their relationships, health, and finances. Sounds great right? Ready to sign up?
Our business—Forté Events--is different.
The right goals: We set personal goals; not business goals. I’m sure MBA’s worldwide are gasping for breath at this but I’m convinced: If I’m a business owner with all the risks, I should gain all the rewards. I don’t want to serve my business with hopes of someday. I want a business that serves me. My business is a tool by which I can achieve personal dreams. This is also true of everyone that works in our business--not just me. Each of us sets personal goals and works toward meeting them using the vehicle (the business) to do so. This mind shift has made all the difference in my life and our company. We are all working toward an objective together which is fulfilling each person’s life goals each year.
We're not desperate. Second, most event planners I know are often desperate for work. I’ve been there and I know what it is to need income, but the key word is desperate. When someone needs work so badly, they will often accept clients and projects they may not otherwise consider. Your gut usually warns you during your first meeting but because of fear, you take a job that can be a nightmare later.
Our business is different. We only work with “perfect” clients. As a team, we create a profile for each type of event client we work with that details their personality traits, their expectations, goals, etc. Once we establish the kind of clients we are looking for, we only say “yes” to clients who fit that description. We say no to everyone else--even if we need the work. Especially when we need the work. Only taking on projects with “perfect” clients will save you time, energy, stress, and make you more profitable.
Third, and this is a big one, many event planners do not understand their worth and are not confident when it comes to pricing. Without sounding too dramatic, I honestly think that this fact is single handedly crumbling our entire industry. I’m serious. When event planners cannot justify their fees to themselves or their clients, they lower the pricing standards of the entire industry. They train clients that our time, talent, and expertise are not worth very much. They lower and lower the pricing bar until they go out of business but not before they ruin it for the rest of us.
Our business is different. We know exactly how much our time is worth. We look at each job as a project and determine how many hours of pre-planning and how many hours of on-site work will be required to create a great event in an unstressed environment and that goes into our price.
We consider how much our ideas are worth--our intellectual property--and we add that in too. We quantify time for phone calls, texts, meetings, on-site walk-throughs, more meetings, and meals with clients, vendors, venues and our internal team. We remember the business needs to profit as well for all overhead expenses unrelated to just one event, and we add that in too.
Once the pricing is figured (usually 20 percent to 30 percent of the total budget), we are proud to present it to prospective perfect clients. We know that it is our responsibility to explain to them why we are worth it and what they will get for their investment--my favorite thing to do! We have not had any issues selling our pricing--we understand it, we believe in it, and we know it’s in the client’s best interest to create what they need to be successful. You can do this too!
These are some of the ways our business is different. I hope in the near future, I can write that our business is not that different--that most event planners are enjoying less stress and more profits by setting personal goals, working with “perfect” clients, and pricing appropriately and confidently for success.
If you want to run your business this way but don’t know how, contact us--we’re happy to share!
Tami Forero is a strategic event planner and CEO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based company Forté Events. With 22 years of event planning experience, she helps clients meet goals using experiential events and is a sought-after speaker across the U.S. on the subjects of sales, work-life balance, and profitability.