Are you and your business making the most of engagement season?

Engagement season is now in full swing and it won’t be too long before the wedding season comes back around. According to Chillisauce‘s Marriage Proposal Survey, Christmas Is the most popular time of year to propose with a total of 43% of votes, closely followed by Valentines day which received 36% of votes.

With the sudden rush of new proposals, it’s even more important to get ahead of the game to set yourself apart from your competitors. Here are our top tips to help ensure that you maximise business this season:

Get Organised

With the busyness of Wedding Season over and done, there are no opportunities for the “I don’t have time” thought that usually pops into all of our heads! Getting organised can really help maximise your productivity – a simple “To-Do” list can really help or why not check out our Time Blocking Template to help streamline your workload.

Update your online presence

“Shameless Plug Alert” Don’t forget to make the most out of your free Weddingly listing. Make sure your contact info is all still correct and that all links are working. You could also consider freshening up your images and your description to ensure that your listing is still up to date. Using your best images will really increase your chances of being noticed on any platform.

What if you’re Fed up with the old look of your website? Now is the perfect time to give your website a facelift. Perhaps you need a Rebrand or a complete Website Redesign. You could also consider refreshing your Instagram account by incorporating a new theme for your grid, keeping it consistent with your other platforms.

Ask for reviews

Do you have any weddings this year that you are particularly proud of? Why not ask a couple you have recently worked with to write a review? After all, what the worst that could happen… perhaps they say no, but it’s worth the ask! Promoting reviews on your website or social media will give you the upper hand when it comes to getting newly engaged couples to book through you and will also build your credibility. It’s all about Social Proof – it helps build trust, which helps the sale!

Scheduling

When enquiries from newly engaged couples start flooding in, the last thing you want to be worrying about is conjuring up the perfect images and captions for your social media.

Start by curating all your images from the most recent wedding season and schedule your posts in advance using a social media management platform. We recommend using Buffer, which essentially publishes your posts for you at your preferred time.

If you’re struggling with getting your social platforms up to scratch, chat with our team about the ways that we can help you here.

Get educated

Get ahead of the game whilst you can and use this time to educate yourself and your business. Immerse yourself in the 2019 predicted wedding trends, attend workshops or training in an area you have never considered before. Or simply read all the wedding business blog posts in existence, particularly our Weddingly Academy blog of course (Another shameless plug).

What are your top tips for making the most of engagement season?  What worked well for you last year? Comment below or join in the chat in our Facebook Group here.

Winterproof your business

Tis the season! With Christmas around the corner and Winter at our door, we all need some Winter Warming, but winterproofing is more than simply preparing yourself for the cold. Are you and your business ready for the Christmas break? It’s important that your business doesn’t freeze over this Winter, so we have listed our 5 top tips to winterproof your business.

Keeping Cosy

You may be ready to get cosy over the winter period sat in front of a fire, with your fluffy socks on, but have you thought about keeping your business cosy whilst you have a well earned break over Christmas? It is important to make sure you stop your leads from going cold as well as your home, so why not send your leads a lovely note to let them know when you are around? You might also want to send your current clients a gift, or a Christmas card, to wish them a Merry Christmas and remind them that you love them!

Programming your thermostat

We wouldn’t think twice about programming our thermostats to stop our pipes freezing if we were to leave our homes over the Christmas period. Well, this is much the same as programming your business! There are a whole host of things you can do including; scheduling your social media posts using Buffer, scheduling mail shots and Christmas emails, as well as setting up an email automation to save you time and energy!

Wrapping up your pipes

Another way to stop your pipes from freezing is to wrap them up in insulation as the temperature drops.  For your business it is also best that you also wrap up your pipeline during the winter season. Clear out those old enquiries, and log any outstanding ones, to ensure your business continues to flow nicely and doesn’t freeze over your break. Nobody wants to be wading through leads whilst trying to kick start their new year’s resolutions upon returning to work.

Check your boiler pressure

No-one wants a boiler breakdown so it’s not just your boiler pressure that needs checking during this cold winter, your own internal pressure should not be overlooked. Work-related stress is becoming more prevalent, so it’s really important that you put techniques in place to help you manage this and avoid burnout. From making sure you separate your work life and your home life, as well as setting yourself achievable goals, to looking after your health by eating regularly, drinking enough water, exercising and sleeping enough. All these factors should help combat your stress and allow you to enjoy your Christmas break.  Take a look at our post on Avoiding Burnout here

Draught proofing / seal the gaps

Finally, draught excluders and draught proofing your home help you keep that heat in and that cold out – saving energy and money.  Like this, you could also stop your energy and money from slipping through the gaps within your business. Perhaps you could review your marketing spend and cancel any subscriptions that you no longer need? Or you could go paperless with digital contracts and invoices or ditch your landline telephone? Making smarter choices reduce your business costs, there is no better time for a refresh than in the new year!

What are your top tips for Winterproofing your Business?  What worked well for you last year? Comment below or join in the chat in our Facebook Group here.

 

What the 2018 Budget Changes Mean to the Wedding Industry

 

At the end of October 2018, the Chancellor announced his budget and, in this extensive document, one small detail stands out to us – changes to the way Wedding Ceremonies will be able to be performed.

This will, inevitably, make huge waves in the Wedding Industry, but what does this actually mean?  What impact could we potentially see?  What potential fallout?  We have outlined our thoughts on what impact this can have on the current industry, and what predictions we can make from this.

What has been announced?

In a long-awaited shake up of the Wedding Industry, the Chancellor has announced that a review of wedding venues in England and Wales will be taking place.  Restrictions on Outside Wedding Ceremonies, as well as temporary structures such as Marquees and Tipis, are expected to be lifted.

What does this mean?

No longer will Hotel Venues have the monopoly on licenced venues in England and Wales (41% of the variety of the 7500 licenced venues are hotels).  More choice for couples, leading to a rise in a variety of locations being made available for couples and a number of new trends emerging – from pub wedding ceremonies to beach wedding ceremonies, from garden parties to weddings in parks and grounds.  More opportunity for alternative timings, alternative locations, variety of guest numbers and a reduction in costs for wedding ceremonies leading to more budget to use in other areas.

 

What Should Wedding Venues Consider?

Scrapping the “Ceremony Fee”

This charge will feel unjustified in light of the restrictions being lifted. Why pay more when they could get married anywhere?

Insurances, Risk, Restrictions and Terms and Conditions

As with any shake-up, this will have major implications for liability, insurances and venues’ terms and conditions. Venues should consider reviewing what they will be offering to couples in light of the changes, and what impact this will on their risk, insurance, and current terms and conditions.  Risk Assessments and a formal review of T’s and C’s is highly recommended.

Offering more flexibility

Wedding ceremonies will be able to take place in any room, location or area of a venue. Use your imagination, create – or open – spaces which you might not have considered before, you might just reach a new audience.

Outside vs. Inside

Outside wedding ceremonies will see a huge increase with this announcement. This means that venues should consider the spaces available for outside ceremonies, but also consider what spaces inside can accommodate – no point in taking a booking for 100 people outside, when you can only accommodate 30 seated inside… it is the UK after all, those rain clouds won’t necessarily disappear.  On the other hand, small venue but large grounds?  You’re quids in – marquees, tipis and stretch tents will open the way to ceremonies and receptions held in fields, grounds and large acreages.

Just because outside ceremonies will be available, doesn’t mean it’s right for you!

Take a look at the space and grounds that your venue has, can it be adapted for wedding ceremonies without a negative impact on the venue, other guests and/or staffing?  If it’s not feasible, you need to think about how this will impact your market.

Informality and Relaxed Vibes

Formal venues will start to see an increase in requests for an informal feel. Outside wedding ceremonies will grow outside receptions, and with that flexibility on menu, style and experience.

Catering

Venues who have, typically, remained restrictive in catering abilities may need to start considering how they can flex this now that a more informal experience will become more affordable for couples. The industry will see a reduction in “in house catering only” options and an increase in the requirement to be more flexible with alternative catering, fun options, and requests for family-style options.

Sales, Marketing and Prices

A new pool of wedding venues will become available in a very short amount of time – but the number of weddings isn’t necessarily going to increase. With a larger choice becoming available to couples across the country, venues (and especially traditional hotel venues) may start to see reductions in their sales coming through.  With more choice, comes more power.  Couples now will have the ability to negotiate far more with their shortlisted venues, and this will directly impact the marketing which a venue will need to do to reach their ideal client.  Careful consideration of price point, marketing and target will need to take place and be adjusted in light of this huge shake-up.

 

What does this mean for Wedding Vendors?

bride_with_bike

Non-venue Wedding Vendors might not think this will affect them too much, but there are definitely some hefty considerations that other types of vendors may need to think about.  Here are some thoughts below:

Catering and Drinks Vendors

Outside wedding ceremonies will lead to an increase in outside drinks receptions, wedding breakfasts and alternative, or more informal, catering options. Vendors who provide catering or drinks options will now have a larger pool of venues to become recommended at and to work with.  Building relationships within these new opportunities will be key.

Electronic Services

Suppliers who provide electronic services, such as DJs, Magic Mirrors, Photobooths etc., should consider how their services will work in an environment where outside wedding ceremonies and receptions are going to take place.  What do you need to make it work?  Can you/Do you need to market differently?  Do you need to charge a supplement?

Bands and Other Entertainment 

Entertainment options may need to consider alternative styles; such as the “roaming” style, where the band make their way around the guests in an informal and engaging way.

Fashion Trends

Fashion options for couples, wedding parties and guests alike, will change. With a prevalence of outside wedding ceremonies and receptions; new styles and trends will emerge focusing on comfortable and beautiful outside wear.

Insurance, Risk and Health and Safety

New venues such as industrial spaces, museums, parks, farms, zoos and beaches becoming available for wedding ceremonies (therefore receptions and parties), consider that insurance premiums may increase, or insurances may need changing. Risk assessments may also be needed prior to the wedding when faced with non-traditional wedding ceremony/venues.

Photographers and Videographers

photographer_lens_upclose

With the increase in the variety of venues available to couples now; showcasing your work with a focus on the diverse nature of today’s couple is going to be more important.  Focus on the exciting and engaging alternative options for styling, couple experience and atmosphere.

Conclusion –

Overall, the most important thing is that we meet these new requests with an open mind and a creative process.  Don’t put up barriers simply because you are not sure what to do next!  Be honest if you have never had that request before, and ask for time to address the options. You can always say no or charge a supplement, if required, once you have researched.

Change is good, we want to embrace it!

What are your thoughts on the changes?  What considerations are you making for your business?  Comment below!

If you are looking for advice on how to accommodate for the new changes – why not speak with our team?  Email hello@weareweddingly.com to speak with an expert now.

How to make networking work for you

Networking is often seen in business as a “must”, but some of us find networking difficult, while others beneficial.  So how can we make sure that we don’t waste our time going to networking events, and make sure that the networking we do take part in produces results?

First, what is Networking?

Networking is kind of a buzz word used simply to define a type of mutually beneficial relationship building, usually within a work sphere.  You can attend networking events which are designed to facilitate these conversations, or you can “network” with friends, co-workers, colleagues and counterparts at social functions, conferences and events or simply within the workplace.

Networking relationships are based on reciprocity rather than being one-sided.  There should be an exchange of ideas, leads, support and/or information and it should be something which can help stretch you personally and professionally.

But, when speaking with new people is difficult, how can you make networking work for your business?

Firstly, stop thinking about it as a chore, and start thinking about it simply as making “business friends”.  This sounds a little twee, but it does help.  All of the people you meet are an opportunity to build a relationship, even just lightly, which can support you, and you, them.

If you can’t stand the “so, what do you do?” question at networking events, perhaps start by asking a question of your own.  This has two benefits: first – it changes the subject from work to personal and allows a new insight into that person.  And, second – it gives you a little time to think about your response whilst they answer!  Perfect if you are a bit nervous.

Here are some top tips for networking and for building relationships quickly:

Questions

Ask Open Questions (Who, What, When, Why, How) or, better yet, use “Tell Me”, “Explain” or “Describe” as openers (umbrella questions) – this is more likely to elicit a deeper response.

Start with common ground

This might be work or it might be a hobby or similar interest. Why not discuss the latest movie releases or a great documentary you have seen.

Add value

When you are networking you need to consider how you are bringing value to the conversation and how you can bring value to the relationship. Can you offer something to the other parties? How can you support them?

Elevator Pitch

Those of you who have attended our Sales Bootcamp will know what we mean by this, but an elevator pitch is simply who you are, what you do and why you do it in a minute or less – the length of time you might be in an elevator. You should practice this and make sure you know how to tailor this to the people in front of you.

Opportunities

Look for at least 3 decent opportunities that you can follow up with.  People who could support you or you support them.

Follow Up

Networking is great, but your relationship needs to move beyond the event or occasion you attended. Follow up with a personal email or LinkedIn connection – try to add something to your follow up which identifies you.  Keep it light and invite to connect again.

Think about what you want

Before attending networking events, identify your goal. Do you want to get business from these relationships, are you looking for support, or are you simply looking to widen your gaze and learn new skills?

Ask for introductions

If you are shy, uneasy or just not sure, you can ask for an introduction to a networking event or even in person. You do, of course, need to have someone to introduce you but it’s a faster way to build connection with someone new if you have an introduction or referral.  If all else fails, at least you have the old “So, how do you know so and so?” routine to fall back on!

 

What are your top tips for networking events?  Are you not sure where to start?  Comment below.

Managing Demanding Clients

Let’s be honest here – we all get demanding clients from time to time, and especially in the world of Weddings!  Bridezillas, Groomzillas, Mother-of-the-bridezillas… the list goes on.  I’ve had my fair share of difficult clients over the years from couples, to bridesmaids, to event planners and everyone in between.  So here are my top tips for managing difficult clients (and possibly difficult colleagues as well)…

 

Above all, look after yourself!

When you are angry you cannot make objective decisions.  Same goes for being hungry, tired, cold or just generally miserable.  You need to take care of yourself.  That might mean that someone else deals with a client from time-to-time, it may even mean turning down business or it may simply mean taking a step back from the situation to objectively review it.  Just remember, if you are finding it affecting your health and well-being, it’s probably not worth it.

 

If the customer if difficult at the start, they’re likely to be difficult through the process.

We are in the business of long relationships – the average amount of time for an engagement is 18 months – do you really want to deal with the hassle?  Learning to walk away is just as important as taking the business sometimes.

 

Set Boundaries.

Your contract should be clear, but you should also outline important points.  If you find that couples are pushing on particular areas regularly make sure this is clearly defined in your T’s and C’s – add it in for individuals if necessary!

 

Know how to say “no” well.

There are lots of ways to say the word “no” but negative language can hurt a relationship with a client and turn them from mildly frustrating to all out stress inducing nightmares(!).  So, learning to say “no” well can help manage this.  Try these phrases on for size:

 

Redirection: What we can do is…

Alternatives: I can offer you this instead…

Explanation: The reason I don’t offer this is because

 

Manage expectations.

Be up front about your T’s and C’s from the start.  If you can’t offer something that you know they want, make sure you tell them up front and outline it for them.   Don’t get tripped up down the line with unreasonable requests simply because you didn’t handle it at the beginning.

 

Don’t make promises you can’t keep or don’t have control over.

This speaks for itself but, seriously, don’t promise something you can’t deliver just to win the business – it won’t work and you’ll end up with bigger problems!

 

Be understanding.

Your clients might be stressed, frustrated and tired.  They are also dealing with something which is emotionally charged – a Wedding!  So actively listen, acknowledge their issue and work with them to find a solution.  Your most difficult clients might be your best review!

 

Be Polite!

Even if they are hurling abuse at you, you need to remain calm, polite and in control.  Remember though, if someone is abusive you do have the right to calmly state:

“I can see that you are frustrated, and I want to help you, however I am not prepared to tolerate being spoken to in that manner.  If this continues I will end our conversation and we can revisit it when you are calmer.” 

If they continue, end the conversation politely and follow up with an email calmly explaining why you ended the call/meeting.  You could also consider a clause in your contract stating that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and could lead to termination of contract – this means that, should this situation escalate, you have the right to end the contract returning any monies as outlined and appropriate. 

 

Where possible, end on a good note.

Hopefully you can resolve any issues with your demanding clients as you go – however occasionally then end must come earlier than we want.  But, even if you do have to go your separate ways, remember to be the “bigger person” and wish them well – it costs nothing to be polite (and having the satisfaction of knowing you did not react badly feels pretty good in the end!)

 

Dealing with difficult clients is never easy but, remember, handled appropriately, your “difficult clients” can become your “best clients”!  It’s all about how you manage their experience and how you maintain a positive relationship.

 

What difficult clients have you had?  What top tips do you have for dealing with demanding customers?

How to work in this industry and avoid burnout … especially during Wedding Season

Let’s get real here for a moment.  Wedding Planning, Wedding Organising, Wedding-anything… is hard work.  Yes, this industry is full of love, joy and delight (which makes what we do so worthwhile), but it’s also notoriously challenging.

Working with a couple and contributing to such a momentous life event can be emotionally fraught, both positively and negatively. Those wedding vendors who work one-on-one with couples can find themselves not only carrying out the highly stressful, meticulous and time-sensitive job they were hired to do, but also filling an emotionally supportive role.  In addition, we are not likely to get repeat business, so have to focus on generating new opportunities all the while.

So how do we stay sane and avoid burnout, especially during wedding season?

Here’s how to keep on top of the emotional and physical work pressures we have to cope with:

Take Breaks.

Wedding season is busy, but you deserve to take breaks and to take holiday too.  You will not be at your best self if you are working all hours of the day.

Spend time doing something you love – that is not your business.

Find a hobby, read a book, take a bath, go out for dinner…. Whatever it is that get’s your heart a-flutter when you are not working, try and use this to support your own needs.

Pamper yourself. 

Taking time out can also be physical – a massage, something which takes care of your body, can be really helpful with reducing the physical impact of working long hours and it can also provide some well-needed time out.

Exercise. 

Not something I particularly ascribe to myself (as a self-professed “indoors girl”) but light exercise not only burns calories, but can also prevent burnout by giving you space and time to relax. Plus, the endorphins will help induce feelings of well-being and happiness!

Mindfulness. 

Described as the act of practicing being “in the moment”. When the pressures of working life can get to you, try taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing, where you are and what’s around you.  This act can focus your mind and calm any anxiety you might be experiencing.

Sleep. 

Most people need between 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep. Before resting, switch off your mobile phone, avoid screen time, and take deep breaths.  Deep breathing, when practiced, can help support a quick sleep routine and provide better rest.  Try breathing in for 5 counts, holding your breath for 7 counts and breathing out for 5 counts.  Believe me, it works!  Usually within 5 repeats of this, I’m out for the count!

Taking one task at a time.

Multitasking is not actually the best way to manage workload.  Instead, try breaking down your to do list into mini, focused tasks that you can complete within 20 minutes. After each, take a short 5 minute “brain break” before focusing on the next task.  This is more effective than working on many things for several hours and you will likely be more productive.

Journaling. 

If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed easily or finds that their clients off-load their issues onto you, then journaling may help support your processing of these emotions.  Writing in your diary is not just helpful with to-do lists or shopping lists, but also helpful for managing your own thoughts and feelings and “off-loading” some of these too.

What are your top ways to avoid burnout during busy seasons?  What keeps you motivated?