Managing Client Expectations in Peak Wedding Season
When in the midst of a busy summer season the pressure can really begin to mount as clients demand more of your time in the lead up to their wedding day. As well as pressing client work there’s the constant admin and planning that goes hand in hand with running your own business, and burnout becomes a real danger.
Here are some tips I’ve learnt over the past two decades as a successful wedding planner that will help you to manage client expectations, and therefore your work load.
Set expectations from the beginning
As a work-from-home solopreneur your ‘office’ hours may stretch beyond the traditional 9-5 and designed to work around family, home and other work commitments. Combine this out-of-hours approach with a client who’s dedicated wedding planning time falls to evenings and weekends and you can easily find yourself answering emails at all times of the day and night.
If this is you, stop immediately! And set out your boundaries with your clients straight away. This includes working hours, expected response times and communication methods as well as how these change at different stages of the planning process.
It’s up to you to set the precedent too, so make sure you abide by your rules and don’t reply to that panicked midnight Whatsapp unless it’s a genuine emergency of course.
Invest in good communication
Wedding planners can receive hundreds of emails per week, and during peak season it’s easy to miss those important supplier messages or couple requests. Investing in a system that files your emails by client (and therefore order of importance) is essential for your sanity and keeping on top of those important details.
Communication may not just be limited to emails, depending on your ideal client they may prefer to stay in touch via social media or other messaging services so it’s important to have a system for managing these too.
Include the client in your process
It’s easy to forget after you umpteenth wedding that your clients have never planned a wedding before and are unfamiliar with the process.
Keeping them informed along the way, as well as sharing the steps you’re taking with other clients on your social media, blog and newsletters is a great way of helping your client to understand what to expect and save you time answering the same questions over and over again.
Anticipate client requirements
On the flip side, you have a wealth of experience in the planning process and should be able to anticipate when your client needs help, advice, has questions or needs to make a decision.
Being able to discuss these requirements with your client ahead of time will result in a much smoother and less stressful experience all round, as well as proving to your client that you’re always planning and thinking about what needs to happen next.
Learn to say no
We all want to do our best by our clients but recognising when you need to say no is one of the most valuable skills you can learn as a planner – especially during your busiest months. Whether it’s putting off a new client consultation to a quieter time, managing an existing client whose wedding is still a year off or saying no to changes for this week’s wedding, being confident in your reasoning is key.
Perhaps you are reserving days for family time over the summer, need to prioritise upcoming wedding clients, or know that making late changes will compromise the overall success of an event. If you know that something is not feasible then you must say no or risk putting yourself, others or the reputation of your business at risk.
Do you need help to set boundaries and manage client expectations? As a member of the UKAWP you have access to a wealth of resources, videos and live sessions with a range of experts on topics. Head to https://www.ukawp.com/membership/ to find out more about joining our family of wedding businesses.