No pouting, no shouting, no whining. For event designer Christopher Aldama, these are words to live by. The CEO of La Habra Heights, Calif.-based Fiori Fresco Special Events says that it's his company's “no drama” policy — enforced by following these rules — that keeps staff and vendors focused on the job at hand and keeps clients coming back for more.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Aldama is a consummate professional whose CV includes training at Wolfgang Puck's Ma Maison Culinary Institute, an extensive floral design background and a raft of honors, including the prestigious Gala Award.
According to Aldama, it is his insistence on remaining calm and cool in high-stress, high-stakes event environments as much as it is catering to clients with customized service that accounts for Fiori Fresco's success since its launch in 1993.
More recently, he notes, his company has benefited from his prediction of the current economic slowdown and the quick action he took to address it. “I was able to see [the slowdown] coming a year ago,” he explains. “We weren't seeing the ‘monster’ events coming in. Just small events. We said, ‘Uh-oh, something's wrong.’” As a result, he says, “When we did our forecasting, we strategized about what to do.”
What he did was get rid of excessive prop inventory and the large warehouse space needed to house it. Now, instead of paying a monthly lease for space to store items he rarely uses — most of his clients require totally custom-designed events — he relies on smaller storage units and sublets space from vendors as needed.
To best serve clients who themselves are struggling with the effects of a limping economy, “We have begun to prepare initial presentations with multiple options at varying price points,” he adds. On top of that, “We have also been able to add value for our clients by learning what is really important to them and then helping them make decisions on how best to achieve those goals.”
With client-centered efforts like these, along with Fiori Fresco's internal belt-tightening, it's no surprise, Aldama says, that although “last year was difficult, this year is amazing. With our lowered overhead, we're going to do very well.”
Fiori Fresco Special Events 1340 Mayapan Road, La Habra Heights, CA 90631; 562/691-2499; www.fiorifresco.com
“We will not take on more than 50 clients a year so we can really deliver on the promise that each event will be unique. On our Web site, we try to give the story behind each of our featured events so prospective clients understand the rich context for the planning and execution.”
“I'm not alone in struggling with balancing the demands of this industry with the demands of the rest of life. I have not found the secret yet and, at the risk of making this column sound like a special events therapy blog, I am open to suggestions from my colleagues!”
“In 1982, I was the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of scouting in California and had earned the most merit badges. I am proud of that achievement, not only for having accomplished that level of competency, but because those skills and attributes helped put me on track for college, creativity and the profession I now so enjoy — although there are not yet merit badges for rigging, creating the perfect color palette and napkin-folding.”