This week it’s all about finding a good middle ground for planners, designers and clients, so that we can all work together effectively and efficiently. Today, I’m sharing my top 10 suggestions and reminders specifically for planners:
1. It’s very important for designers and other vendors to meet with clients directly. This allows them to get a good idea of what the clients want before the designing and other work begins. As a designer, I have gotten a lot of misguided information from planners who thought they knew what the client wanted but didn’t.
2. Don’t agree to any prices with clients before you consult vendors. I’ve worked with planners who have given me a budget and said, “That’s all you have. Make it work.” And then, of course, they expect the world. In this situation we usually end up either losing money or designing garbage.
3. Before you rent a venue, you must make sure you have a strong understanding of the scope and size of the job you’ve been hired to plan. It’s essential that you negotiate plenty of time for your vendors to install and breakdown everything. Designers and other vendors hate it when guests start to arrive and they are still working.
4. Here’s some great information I’ve gotten from former clients: Planners, make sure you or an associate stays at the event from beginning to end. I’ve heard clients complain that their planner left the event before it was over.
5. If you’re doing a wedding, remember that it’s the bride’s day. Make sure that you or an associate remains in very close contact with her throughout her ceremony and reception. This is when she’s most vulnerable and needs you the most.
6. While the job is being installed, you (or an associate) should be present at all times. Something almost always goes wrong, and you want to be there when it does so you can make sure it gets resolved quickly and appropriately.
7. Vendors are responsible for the breakdown of an event, not the planner. However, planners should always make sure that the venue is left in top condition.
8. After every event, it’s important for planners and designers to have a wrap-up meeting. This helps everyone understand what went well and what could have been better. This is also a great time to review feedback from the client.
9. Planners shouldn’t use one designer or vendor exclusively for all of their clients — no matter how well they happen to work together. Instead, establish a relationship with at least two strong vendor candidates in every field. This way you’ll be ready to respond to each client’s specific needs. For instance, it’s unlikely that a planner will recommend me to a client who prefers minimalistic simplicity.
10. I honestly think that the universe is extremely generous and that there is more than enough work for all of us. So, planners, never bad mouth other planners to clients just to get a job. It’s neither nice nor professional.
I’ve learned a lot in the many years I’ve been in business, and I’ve worked with a lot of planners along the way. I’m very happy that, after so many years, I usually get to choose the planners I work with. And it has been my experience that a large event won’t be successful without a good planner.
Now, here are a few questions for you:
If an event is well under way but far from over, is it OK for a planner to leave? Have you ever been bad-mouthed by another planner? Do you think it shows loyalty when a planner only recommends one vendor? Or, do you think it’s better when planners give their clients a choice of vendors?