Wedding industry in general is a crazy enviornment for any business owner. Whether you are a florist, photographer, band, dj or caterer it seems like an easy business to get into and make a decent income. Let’s run a quick and very simplified analysis of the thinking process and the route many small business owners take: You have been to several weddings as a guest and you thought “OMG, I can definitely do this better!” so you come back home, look at some websites, do some calculatons, check the balance of your savings account and… decide to dive in. You get the first client for free, just to show what you can do and get some referrals. The first client is very happy, they refer next three to you but at this point you have to start charging something. So two of those referrals walk away because they were only hoping for a freebie. They don’t really care that the quality of your work is slightly better thant the competition. The third client books you because they actually see value in your work. Bravo! You got your first paid gig! Now the business starts rolling. Clients are flooding in. That first wedding you did snowballed into an avalanche of happy brides. How cool! Before you know it the first year of your new enterprise is on the books. So you haven’t made any income… but that’s ok because this was your weekend job, you still have your regular job to support yourself. True, you lost all your free time, weekends and basically gave up your social life for that first year but here’s the thought that keeps you going: how cool would it be to switch entirely and do THIS full time! You could be your own boss, probably grow the business a little more, maybe even hire help and have the rest of the week to yourself. Awesome! This is what you decide to do. So you calculate everything and it turns out you can’t maintain the current low prices if the business is supposed to be your only source of income. Well… if you double your prices you will lose clients. The current referrals won’t be happy if they find out they will have to pay twice what their best friend did last year. Plus some of those people you already have a relationship with. They are brothers, sisters, best man, maid of honor of the previous brides… you don’t really WANT to shock them with the new price list. Ok, no problem – there is a way out – how much balance available on that miles card? Maybe you can contact the credit card company and see if they can increase your credit limit. Actually, you do have a high credit score – you can easily get a few more credit cards and put them to a good use. This is way easier than applying for a business loan with your bank and being on a payment plan! Plus with all those credit cards you don’t have to pay off the full balance each month, you can pay it whenever – when you make more money (because eventually you WILL raise those prices, right?…..). This way for now you can only raise your prices a little bit, keep the incoming brides happy and start making a little money…
All of you who have been in business for more than 3-5 years and have survived know this process well, don’t you? I am sure some of you know where it ends, too. Sorry if you do… The conclusion is very simple: being a truly RESPONSIBLE business owner who really has their CLIENTS BEST INTEREST at heart means you need to charge ENOUGH to pay all your overhead costs, support yourself, your family and dependants (if you have any) and also make some INCOME. This is the ONLY way everything will remain in balance, you will be a happy long term business owner and the clients that booked you will actually receive the service they paid for when their wedding comes around (because you will still BE in business).
Wedding industry is a crazy enviornment for a small business owner. Cutthroat competition and countless new businesses who would do anything to get noticed are on the list of your daily worries. Then come wedding magazines and online wedding portals that actually advise brides to negotiate with everyone because vendors will most likely be willing to drop their prices and give “special deals” to get the job. On top of it all there is social media frenzy. Twitter and facebook “advisors” who will help you find cheap vendors in your area. Why on earth would anyone WANT to look for cheap vendors? Wouldn’t you rather make sure you get quality service for your wedding, one of the most important days of your life? Well… guess what – there is no miracles in business. Quality usually means higher price. It’s exactly the same as in any other industry – if you buy a cheap car it will break sooner, if you get a cheap floor for your living room it will scratch easily and warp at the first contact with water. Cheap things cost more. It’s an old truth. Cutting corners at the time of purchase very often means more headache and additional expenses down the road. It is unfortunately no different with wedding planning. If you want to be happy – be prepared to spend some money! It is of course important to have common sense and do research, be able to tell the real deal from a fake. Do invest your time, search for reviews, testimonials from previous clients and referrals before you make your final decision but more than anything – be prepared to pay for a good service. Good veendors can not work for low fees. If you are aiming at buying a Maserati you know you will pay way more than for a Kia.
A TRULY responsible business owner will NOT drop their prices just to get business. To provide great service to all your clients and maintain your business in the long run there is only one way: to charge what you are worth and make sure your prices are high enough to cover all your overhead cost AND bring income.
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