As we continue our discussion about planning, pricing, and good service, I would like to spend today talking about the difference between a bad planner, a good planner, and a great one. Having spent the past three decades working with hundreds of vendors, I have experienced my fair share of all of the above, and I can say without the slightest hesitation that Marcy Blum is one of the best planners I have ever had the worked with.
Marcy and I are currently collaborating on a few projects (including a couple of major weddings). I respect and trust her so much that I asked her to plan my wedding to my beloved husband, Theo, and was thrilled when she graciously accepted the task (and put up with me when I moved from 0 to Groomzilla on a few occasions).
But Marcy is not the only great planner I have worked with. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the most talented, gracious, and hard-working planners in this business. Sadly, the opposite is also true. I have had to deal with huge egos, a lack of organization, dishonesty–you name it. As a designer, it can be especially difficult to deal with a bad planner. In today’s blog, I would like to share my humble opinion on what traits make a great planner.
This sounds obvious, but think about it for a minute. How many planners do you know who aren’t entirely honest with their clients about the prices of their vendors. Now, I do appreciate the need of planners to stay within the budget of their clients, but I do resent it when a planner expects me to lower my prices in order to help them keep their word. Marcy has always handled this wonderfully and realistically. I have heard her tell clients, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is exactly what things cost.” I respect her being honest with her clients and respectful of the vendors who work hard to earn their living. She also does her due diligence and research, and matches the clients with vendors who can accommodate the budget of her clients.
Those Who Respect Everyone’s Space and Talents
I have had planners hire me to design an event for their clients but then turn around and try and tell me how to design it. This often turns into a tricky situation. Yes, planners tend to have a strong understanding of the vision of their clients, and it is their job to communicate that vision to the vendors they help hire. However, once that has been done, it’s time to step aside and let us do our job. We were not hired to plan and you were not hired to design.
Talk to any experienced planner and you’ll likely hear that it was their mistakes that helped them to polish their professional selves and move closer to success. Being a planner is a great career, but as with any career, you pay your dues. That’s not hazing; it’s about learning and growing. You had to learn basic arithmetic before you jumped into pre-algebra, algebra, and so forth. One step makes the next less daunting (and helps it to make more sense). Take this as a warning not to try and take on too much too fast. It’s nice to be ambitious, but it can backfire.
I have and continue to work with a number of planners in many different countries and still work very closely with my in-house planner, Kathy Romero. I do this for a few reasons. First, I am a control freak and I sleep better knowing that I know every detail of a job. The second and most important reason is that I believe that when a planner and designer work together, the client benefits. Isn’t that the point?
Question: What do you feel makes a great planner? Have you ever lost work to a less experienced planner based on their having a lower rate?
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)