The Difference My Friend – Is You. Be Yourself

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There is no doubt that just the briefest of searches online reveals just how big an array of planners, designers, florists, photographers….cake makers and dress designers there are out there at the moment. If I can say, they are all special in their own right, and each has something to offer the vastly differing budgets of the clients with whom we work.

An obvious question however has to be that which surrounds such a competitive market and what must at some point be a supply V demand issue. Imagine then being the client who has to make that choice. To be in the position of trying to choose one of many companies who could do the job and worrying whether or not you made the right choice?

So what are clients looking for when choosing a company and is there such thing as a wrong decision?

Below are a couple of my thoughts and one or two on selling – you!

Clients Want To Work With People They Like:  I have said it over and over, but relationships are key, and regardless of your talent, clients want to know that you are someone with whom they will enjoy planning their event. I personally feel very privileged when clients take the time to write to me post an event, but more so, mention that I am a nice guy to do business with. I have been lucky enough to work with some great people over the years, and above all else – returning to use their services relates to them as people and how they are as people says a lot about how their business is likely to run.

There is no secret to Sales:  Honesty, be genuine, open and down-to-earth with your clients.  They can detect false promises and more than that, false people, from a mile away and ego has no place in the service industry (although easier said than done).

Straight to the point: There is a lot of competition out there. Be clear about what sets you apart and don’t be afraid to flaunt it. I had to think long and hard about what that was for me before launching WHiTEPAPER – did the industry need another planner? HELL YEAH!

Chin Up: Being a little different and thinking out of the box is not for everyone. Prepare yourself already for the fact that your vision for events may not match everybody else’s. You need to keep your chin up therefore and think positively  – take the time to look back and see just how far you have come as you stare onwards and in to the distance, and where you want to be.

Value Yourself:  DONT BE ARROGANT! Work hard and a confidence will be created, a stepping stone on which you can build and approach new clients. However, never forget just where you came from and who may have given you that chance when no one else would. Work hard will take you so far, but if you had not been humble way back when, you may never have got your foot in the door in the first place. Value your work and the price you put on it – but don’t think that the work alone is enough for longevity within this world.

With hundreds of thousands of weddings taking place each year I would like to think that there is enough work for everyone. Be true to yourself, and fair to your clients. Smile, breathe and remember the journey you took to the top and set your foundations well.

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The Morning After The Night Before – Damage

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Sometimes things click in to place, and in cases just when you thought they would not – a difficult client, extended periods of back and forth and that niggling feeling that however hard you try it just won’t be good enough.

And yet, on the day itself and whilst not meaning to sound dramatic – against all odds, things come together and an event takes place that is almost faultless…….almost.

However good a party might have been, the morning after the night before is when someone has to clear up and in cases, find the damage that may have been hidden under carpet, behind false wall or underneath low slung cushion.

What to do?

Well as I am sure you are well aware, as supplier or venue, paperwork galore is filled out in advance of all works taking place and all the details required for method statements and risk assessments alike – page after page…..who is responsible for what and names required of just who will be on site and when – workers, crew, staff – you name it and in most cases the venue needs it – including in cases photos and what you had for breakfast that morning.

The point though is a serious one. Possible damage aside, most venues have to move from one day to the next through a series of events and time is not available to fix everything that might have been battered and bruised the night before. Even more though, is the point that in cases – although in my experience they are few and far between – some people just don’t care about the space they are working in. They find themselves more concerned with cutting corners and hoping a small scratch here and they may go un-noticed.

The advice then is simple. It doesn’t matter if the company is large or small, experienced or new – if they work with you time and time again or not, nor whether they are recommended by your most important client…..always make sure you are covered and all paperwork is completed in a timely manner and reviewed. If you are working directly with a client and you employ the company yourself on their behalf then in  most cases you will be held accountable for the damage (the paperwork they have signed is the best you can hope for in order to ensure they are accountable). If the company is contracted by the client themselves then it may be for them to start chasing for payment of the damage. In all cases it is a slow and possibly reputation damaging process.

Have you ever had a really tough time when having worked on an event the aftermath was something that you had to manage? How did you cope?

Guest Experience – Don’t lose focus

I had an opportunity this week, to meet with a company that wanted my thoughts on hotel related subject mater as part of project research they were working on. I felt very important. It has been a while since my opinion was sought in this way, but more so – I found myself enthused by the questions that were being asked and the animated way in which I was able to answer them given just how jaded I have become of late with the very industry in which I work.

Something became clear to me, to the credit of the Brand I am a part of, and if I think back a year, one of the top three reasons I wanted to be a part of it – and in some ways one of those things you don’t realise is so prevalent until you leave and go somewhere else to see just how badly other places are doing it.

Guest experience focus.

Call yourself a boutique brand – boutique hotel – make them all look the same, or different – have pictures on the wall that remind you of the city you’re in – have a famous chef’s name on the door – offer free WIFI – open up in 50 locations around the world – give everyone a pink balloon on their arrival to the hotel and have everyone dressed as Mickey Mouse……NONE of it matters if you focus on the big picture and then work backwards, as opposed to the other way around.

What if the guests who you hope to attract to the hotel don’t want any of these things as part of their guest experience? What if your brand, your hotel, your location – the needs of your guests are different to those of the hotel “next door” and as such what seems to have worked for one company just isn’t what will work for yours?

What if, you haven’t even bothered to find out the most basic of information that could enhance their guest experience, preferring to believe that a picture on a wall or name on a door will be enough to make them feel….special?

So what is my point? Simple, and as the title of the piece says…..Don’t. Lose. Focus. There will be times when the work you put in isn’t appreciated, and the learning curve to ensure that mistakes don’t happen is a long one, after all everyone is made up their own special ingredients and it takes time to learn the recipe. But once you have it, you have them.

Is that it? Nope…..next time, “Service”…..the people…….above may be one element of  a “part 1”, but if it were that simple, everyone would be doing it….