Along my event planning journey, I’ve learned a whole lot about the industry—sometimes the hard way. Fortunately, I’ve also learned through the mistakes of other planners who were willing to share his/her experiences. Some of these lessons seem obvious, but trust me…they happen more than you can imagine. Here are a few dos and don’ts of the event planning industry:
DON’T undercharge. Are you barely breaking even? It happens to the best of us! By the time you factor in travel, mileage, labor and your talent—you are hardly profiting (if at all).
DO be calculated with the way you price. There is no simple formula, but be sure to consider your overhead costs, years of experience, and the overall value brought to the table. Granted, we all have to start somewhere. But as you build and invest in yourself and your business, your prices must be a reflection of those investments. This also allows you to bring in the clientele you are looking for. Reasonable clients are willing to pay for quality services; do not sell yourself short!
DON’T become jack of all trades and master of none. In the beginning I would pride myself on providing rentals, florals, balloons, stationary, linens, dishes, even food! While I’ve seen some planners execute this well, it is very rare and I’m sure comes with a price tag when done correctly!
DO coordinate with those who are masters of their craft; the end result is apparent. The most luxe events are the result of using vendors who are experts in their respective fields. However, there is something to be said about dabbling just a bit in different areas, in the event that you need to fill a void due to budget constraints, or to simply develop your skill set in a meaningful way. In other words, I would encourage any planner/designer to invest in a floral workshop or any area that interests you (e.g. rentals, stationary etc...). It’s certainly worth it to be knowledgeable of 1 or 2 related fields, but avoid trying to do it ALL!
DON’T deliver services before receiving payment. We all like to believe that we live in a fair and honest world, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Folks are not always fair, especially when they know you have a new, small business. In other scenarios, potential clients mean well; they plan to have an event but may end up not going through with it. Meanwhile, you've poured hours into planning and researching, all for naught!
DO be clear about your expectations around payment. Wait for a deposit prior to beginning the planning process! Be clear about what happens in the case of nonpayment. How much do you charge for late fees? Do you set up an event prior to final payment? All things to seriously consider!
DON’T enter into janky quid pro-quos. Now, I am just as excited as the next gal about opportunities for exposure; however, do not be taken advantage of. Be sure to enter into a binding contract so that you receive whatever is promised to you in exchange for your services. Between me and you, I once went out of my way to help a fellow planner execute a special dinner event at the last minute. Many vendors jumped on board to execute her vision with little notice and even fewer resources never to receive a, ‘thank you’ furthermore the professional photos and exposure promised!
DO barter your services, wisely…especially in the beginning when you are trying to get exposure for your business. However, be sure that you are calculated with these agreements. Specifically, be certain it’s in line with your overall marketing budget, the opportunity meets the needs of your business, and you have a written contract.
With that being said…
DON’T BURN BRIDGES. You never know who you will need in the future. More importantly, you never want to make a bad name for yourself. You don’t want to be known as the business that does not deliver, whether it be payment or services.
DO be true to your word, carry yourself in a professional manner, and, above all, operate in integrity! When you do not fulfill simple agreements, your fellow industry professionals will not work with you in the future; remember, your reputation precedes you—make sure to leave a stellar impression.
To all of my business owners, be patient with yourself. You are navigating new territory, it can be overwhelming and isolating. Read everything you can, join a community, attend workshops, and seek mentorship. Most importantly, let your experiences guide you; learn from your mistakes, and strive to be better with each endeavor.
Have you encountered any of these mistakes? Feel free to comment, like, and share!