A few days ago, I mentioned in my Up Close and Personal Series interview with Preston that most of our industry friends have a misconception of our clients and their budgets. I was very serious when I said that our wealthy clients have money because they know how to keep it. I figured I’d utilize today’s blog to expand on that thought.
As planners, we must be able to walk our clients through the budget allocation process by explaining every element of their wedding, and of course, the why behind the expense. Additionally, we should be able to provide them with options that allow for educated decisions in line with their personal expectations.
There really never is a right way to start the money conversation, however, it’s a necessary topic that must be addressed very early on. Some clients come in with an understanding of what they want regarding costs, whereas others simply do not have a set a budget. For a lot of clients, it’s a game of numbers versus value. The latter is the most difficult to manage and quite frankly, if the foundation of your organization is based off of the quality (added value) concept, this might not be the client for you.
That said, I’d like to share some key points I keep in mind when speaking to our clients about money:
1. It’s imperative that we listen very carefully to the clients’ vision. This skill will allow us to start setting expectations early. If we have a clear understanding of what they want, explaining the numbers becomes an easier task.
2. If possible, try to understand the elements that are non negotiable for your clients. Asking what they cannot live without might help you establish the skeleton that will drive the budget.
3. Experience has taught me not to put a hard number on an event without thoroughly researching its respective region. It’s important to note that the cost of labor, rentals, catering, and other pivotal items vary depending on your geographic location. Avoid putting your organization at risk. Do your homework, especially if it’s the first time you plan an event in that location.
4. If your client is pressing you for a number and you feel as if it’s safe to give them a range, then do so. It’s never a good idea to make the client wait too long for the bottom-line. Establish trust by being sensitive to time and addressing their concerns in a timely manner.
5. When in doubt, just ask. Your client may already have a number in mind. If they don’t, which is the case for most, be honest with them about what to expect. If they do happen to give you a number, please take the time to break down the event during the conversation and immediately ask if that number is realistic. Whatever you do, do not let your clients leave the office with hopes that their desired budget can be achieved if your knowledge and gut tell you otherwise.
Today, I would like to ask all of you to share which points you agree or disagree with, as well as any idea that was overlooked. How hard is talking money for you? Feel free to share your thoughts as candidly as you’d like!
With a Happy Heart,
Kathy Romero is the Vice President and The Head of Global Wedding & Event Planning for Preston Bailey Designs. She shares her thoughts and advice on Preston’s Blog every Thursday.
(Photo Courtesy of BR Photography)