Is It OK to Fire a Client? When and Why?

When you work in the wedding industry, the success of your business lies in finding and keeping new clients. There may come a day, however, when one of your clients makes you question whether or not the job is worth the effort. (Bridezilla, anyone? Groomzilla? MOTB-zilla?) How can you identify the type of client that just too much trouble to be bothered with, and how do you deal with the situation? If you want to build and support your brand as a wedding business, you need to be prepared to defend it, and that might mean firing the occasional client.

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When to Fire a Client

You’ve spent a great deal of time building not only your business, but your brand as well. You know exactly what niche you occupy within the wedding industry, and you have a specific quality of service you deliver to all of your clients. So what happens when one of your clients makes it difficult (or impossible) to maintain that standard of service? For the sake of maintaining your brand, your reputation, and the wellbeing of your business, you may need to direct that client to another company.

So how do you identify the type of client that should be fired? It is quite simple — if working with the client will require you to compromise your brand or your quality of service, it is not worth working with him or her.

Take for example the client who constantly changes her mind about what she wants from you. This type of client is never satisfied and causes you and your staff a great deal of stress in trying to keep up with her latest demands. If working with this client would cause you or your staff to compromise the quality of service, it may not be worth the effort. (It will likely also pull time away from servicing your better/ideal clients.) You may also need to fire a client if she continually refuses to pay or makes late payments, if she is disrespectful to your staff or vendors, or if she expects a level or type of service that doesn’t correspond to your brand.

How to Fire a Client

In order to ensure that you have the option to fire a client if need be, make sure your contract has a clause that allows you to do so. Somewhere in your contract you should state your right to terminate the client relationship if necessary — you should also outline the process for returning the client’s deposit and for receiving compensation for the work you have done up until the point of termination. With these protections in place, your client will not be able to argue that it is completely within your rights to terminate the relationship. (As always CONSULT a lawyer to ensure that your contract allows you to terminate the relationship.)

So how do you go about firing a client? If you have determined that you simply cannot work with this client, you need to tactfully explain the situation and return any money due to them. Write the client an email or letter explaining that you think she would be happier with another company. Do your best to keep the letter civil and avoid putting blame on the client. Simply state that you do not feel that you can meet the needs of the client and that she would be happier with another company.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever had to fire a client? Share in a comment below.

The Business of Multicultural Weddings – Niching Yourself

Today’s guest post is written by Preeti Moberg of The Big Fat Indian Wedding. Preeti has some business savvy tips on how to niche your business and to find your market sweet spot.

With a market value over $20 billion dollars, multicultural weddings are the sleeping giants of today’s wedding scene. To successfully appeal to this subset of brides and grooms, however, it’s important to recognize the distinct cultural elements involved in these weddings. We’ve laid out five tips below to help you break into this market and uphold the traditions and customs valued by this emerging client base.

  1. Add a little color to the white dress regime. While bridal magazines and websites have embraced beautiful ivory-laced gowns for decades, it may be time to diversify the content with some multicultural threads and spreads. A section devoted to multicultural weddings alongside fusion wedding elements throughout a website or e-zine is an excellent means to cater to a broader audience. A banner or sidebar of photos should showcase a wedding with distinct cultural elements, such as a henna-clad bride or a Persian wedding’s Sofreh Aghd (an elaborate spread of food and décor).
  2. Collaborate with multicultural wedding blogs. There are a number of wedding and beauty blogs that target specific cultural groups, including, GayWeddings.com, The Big Fat Indian Wedding, Munaluchi Bride, and more. It would be beneficial to tap into this subset of blogs with a co-written article, review, or advertisement. These blogs are also a great learning resource for industry professionals to better understand the marital customs and traditions specific to certain cultures or religions.
  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. Organize a styled shoot to showcase what you have to offer multicultural brides and grooms. Try collaborating with other industry specialists to appeal to a broader audience. A single photograph can convey cultural elements of designer gold jewelry, professional décor, catered food, decadent desserts, and ethnic fashion.
  4. Attend ethnic events and wedding fairs. To branch into this market, it is important to meet and befriend experts in the industry. Bridal exhibitions are an excellent way to gauge what ethnic minority communities need to plan weddings. By attending and participating in cultural events and wedding fairs, your company can gain both inspiration and contacts!
  5. Increase your social media presence in cultural spheres. While we’ve discussed the collaborations with other cultural wedding blogs, social media also plays a major role in breaking into this niche. Applying the appropriate hashtags on twitter or instagram that appeal to certain cultural groups, such as #shaadi (Hindi for wedding) or #dulhan (Hindi for bride), can help give your company the edge it needs to succeed. Broaden your cultural vocabulary and use it to your advantage on all social media platforms.

Breaking into the business of multicultural weddings is a transition that is necessary for an ever-diversifying world. There may be challenges, but with these tips in hand, you will be an expert on multicultural weddings in no time.

Head shot- Preeti- web size copyPreeti Moberg is the founder of The Big Fat Indian Wedding, an online bridal resource that inspires with South Asian Wedding traditions, trends, fashion and real weddings.

4 Tips for Staying Profitable in the Off-Season

No matter how successful your wedding business is, you probably still see a decline in business and profits during the off-season. The fact of the matter is that more weddings occur in the summer and fall than any other time of year. (If you are in Florida or another hot region of the US, your seasons are likely opposite.) Even though your business may be in decline during these months, you still have bills to pay. So what can you do to stay profitable during the off-season? Below you will find four tips for maximizing profits outside of wedding season.

Offer Off-Season Incentives

If you want to entice potential clients to book their off-season wedding with you, you may want to consider offering some incentives. Incentives don’t necessarily need to come in the form of ‘discounts’. (A word that I like to stay away from, particularly when trying to show the value your bring clients.) You can incentivize potential clients in the following ways:

  • Offering an additional service, free of charge
  • Offering additional product, free of charge (As a stationer, throwing in thank you notes was a great way for me to book an invitation job and didn’t cost me too much.)

Become a “Winter Wedding Expert”

A way to identify yourself as THE go-to person for winter weddings is to feature your winter work. Show potential clients how lovely a winter wedding can be. The key with marketing a new idea/service/niche/etc is to broadcast it loud and proud. This means: put it on your website, put it in your blog, get published, do style shoots, introduce yourself as “I specialize in…..”. Take advantage of this challenge! There are still people who marry in the snow. You have to help them identify with what YOU do.

Expand Your Offerings

While it is important to identify and maintain your position within a particular niche in the wedding industry, there is no reason why you can’t expand your business to increase your off-season sales. To increase business during the off-season, you might consider adding corporate events, birthday parties, and holiday parties to your docket for a little extra income. You can always limit these events to the off-season if you want to reserve the busy season for your most profitable events — weddings.

Manage Your Cash Flow

You still have to pay your bills during the off-season, but there may be some easy ways to save money, and manage cash, so you stay in the black all year long. If you take a deposit and a final payment, one thing to consider is taking a ‘middle payment’ (3 payments in total). Here’s what I see happening:

  • Cash comes in the Fall when client pays deposit/retainer
  • Cash comes in Spring when client pays final balance

WINTER is painful with little money coming in.

A way to fix this is to look at your slowest time for cash inflow and schedule a client payment during that time. In the Midwest, it’s likely January & February. In the South and Southeast, it’s likely July & August. (Email me if you need help managing cash flow.)

Just because most weddings happen during the summer and fall doesn’t mean that you have to let your business die during the off-season. Fortune favors the bold, so go out there and find new and exciting ways to make your wedding business profitable even in the off-season!

How do you stay profitable in the off-season? Share with us in a comment below.

When Your Average Price is Too Low

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on how important it is to know the average price of the weddings that you are booking. You can have a very solid pricing strategy. But, when it comes to actually booking clients… if you tend to book the lowest priced service offering, you aren’t going to achieve your sales goals.

Here are 3 strategies for correcting your low average price:

Creative Commons: flickr.com/damongman

Creative Commons: flickr.com/damongman

1.) Set detailed sales goals

Sales goals need to go beyond “Book 20 weddings in 2015.” (I hear a lot of that.) They need to look like this:

Sales Goals for 2015:

8 Top Tier Weddings @ $6500
6 Mid Tier Weddings @ $4500
6 Low Tier Weddings @ $2500

I like to take it a step further and determine how your promotional activities will achieve these goals.

2.) Quit booking low-tier weddings so far in advance

Are you familiar with this scenario: Someone hires you 18 months before their wedding for the lowest package you offer. A few months later, someone wants to hire you for the same day. (And they are interested in hiring you for a higher priced service.)

Weekend dates are limited inventory. There are only 52 Saturdays a year. And, if you are like most business owners in this industry, seasonality brings this inventory down to ~20-25 each year. If someone takes up a spot of inventory for a low price, you’ve sacrificed being able to earn more on a bigger wedding.

One thing to consider is only booking lower priced services 6 months out (or less, depending on what you do).

3.) Raise your middle tier

There is a psychologic reaction to seeing these 3 prices:

$6500
$4500
$2500

Where did your eyes feel safest? (Most will settle on that middle price.) Make sure that middle tier is where you want to be in terms of average pricing. And, if it’s not, give it a little bump. When you know you need a big bump, consider removing your bottom price and adding above your top price so that it looks like this:

$8500
$6500
$4500

And… now… where do your eyes go? $6500, likely. Interesting. Now – your clients are spending, on average, your previous ‘big ticket price’.

Pricing strategy is a little more involved than that. But, that gives you a little food for thought.

Need help with this? That’s what I do. Shoot me an email to see how I can help your business: michelle@sageweddingpros.com .

What is Your Average Price for Weddings?

Not achieving your financial goals? There are so many factors that go into profitability and financial sustainability in a small business. In the wedding business, pricing is a critical component… NOT ONLY how you are priced, but also the price that you are actually booking clients.

0159_SimpleYou may have incredibly solid pricing structure and strategy. But the mix of products (or services) that you end up selling matters just as much.

Here’s an example of how it works… (and for purposes of this example, we’ll work with round numbers)

You have 3 ‘packages':

  1. $2500
  2. $5000
  3. $8000
    The average price is ~$5000. You want sales of $100k this year, so you set a target to do 20 weddings at this average.

So, you start booking weddings…

They look like this:

  1. 2500
  2. 2500
  3. 2500
  4. 2500
  5. 2500
  6. 2500
  7. 2500
  8. 2500
  9. 5000
  10. 5000
  11. 8000
  12. 5000
  13. 8000
  14. 2500
  15. 2500
  16. 2500
  17. 2500
  18. 2500
  19. 5000
  20. 2500

For a total of $71k in sales. WTH? You missed your target by $29k! Whoops.

What’s happening here?

Well, looks like you sold this:

  • 14 weddings of package 1 at $2500 each
  • 4 weddings of package 2 at $5000 each
  • 2 weddings of package 3 at $8000 each

Ahhhh… you mostly sold the base package. As a result, your average price is $3550… that’s a far cry from the $5000 you were aiming for.

So – what can we do about that? Come back tomorrow… I’ve got some tips to help you out.

Need help with this? That’s what I do. Shoot me an email to see how I can help your business: michelle@sageweddingpros.com .