Charging Options For Planners

Preston Bailey Blog, Anne Hathaway, Devil Wears Prada, White Coat

Preston Bailey Blog, Anne Hathaway, Devil Wears Prada, White Coat

Dear Readers:

I hope all of you had a nice weekend. In reviewing the challenges, lessons and mistakes I have encountered throughout the design and planning process, I will spend today’s blog speaking directly to planners.

What do you think is the biggest mistake planners make? You guessed it: Not charging enough for their services. Though most of my clients understand the value of a planner, I still encounter those who come to me and say, “Preston, I do not think I need a planner since I have already done most of the leg work.” My response is usually the same. I sit there quietly and think, “You have got to be joking.” After seeing the extraordinary amount of work done by my in-house planner, Kathy Romero, I am in awe of the workload a planner takes on. Most of the time, Kathy (who is a mother of three) is on-call 24/7. This simple truth took me years to explain to clients in a way they could understand and take in. Investing in a good planner not only saves you time, money and lots of headaches, but also is instrumental to the level of success you enjoy during your event. Though it often takes a bit of explaining at the beginning, most clients admit they could have never pulled off their events without a planner. It’s unfortunate that most planners do not get this kind of appreciation until after the events.

In the next few blogs, I will be sharing what I believe makes a good planner (and what makes a planner not so good). Having worked with the former and more than a few of the latter, I have plenty to say on the subject. We will also discuss how to create a planning contract.

Today, we will discuss the positives and negatives of various approaches to pricing.

The Flat Fee

After giving their best estimate as to the amount of work they will need to do for an event, a planner will name a price and hope they aren’t too far off.

Positive: The client has clarity.
Negative: Most of the time, planners work many more hours than they initially anticipated.

Charging By The Hour

Positive: Aside from the flat fee, this is the most popular choice with clients as they feel they have more control over their budget.
Negative: Most planners are thinking about their client’s job, even when they are not “on the clock”.

Planners Who Work Only The Day Of The Event

Positive: Proactive clients who have done most of the legwork appreciate this method.
Negative: Speaking candidly, it’s not easy to jump into a job and plan only for the day. Planners may need to work a week to a month before the event in order to manage it effectively. Successful planners will take this into consideration.

Charging a Commission Based On The Cost of The Entire Job

Positive: Again, this is a positive in terms of the clients feeling in control of their budget and clear on cost.
Negative: The more the client spends, the more the planner makes. This is not a great situation for clients.

Charging a Small Commission While Collecting a Fee From Vendors (sometimes 10 to 20%)

Positive: This is not a problem if your client has complete transparency.
Negative: Make no mistake about this: unless your client knows, you are stealing money.

Planners, please share with us the method of charging you prefer and the one you like least. Tell us why you feel this way and a few lessons you have learned from your experiences. Lastly, all of you work so hard that I want you to know that, in my humble opinion, you all deserve more – regardless of your current fees.



(Photo of Ann Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada Courtesy of IMDB)