Valuing your work as a Wedding Planner
Today we’d like to introduce you to Isabel of Isabel Smith Wedding Design who raises some very pertinent points about valuing our work…..
This is a topic that many a business owner who offers a service rather than a product has waxed lyrical over. How do you place a value on your time and knowledge?
There are many who feel that the lower priced planners (say offering full planning services at less than £2,000) undermine the planning industry as a whole – after all, why would a client pay £10,000 when another vendor purports to be offering the same thing for so much less?
On the other hand, most also agree that one has to charge prices in line with their experience levels – is it fair for a planner with 2/3 years experience to charge the same as someone with 8 years in the industry?
So how do you find the balance? That is challenge 1.
Once you have researched what your competitors are charging, assessed your own experience level in relation to them, thought through how many weddings you can take per year in and amongst your other home/work commitments and what you need to bring in from the business etc etc, you can set your pricing.
But what happens when that is done and the prospective clients still don’t want to pay? This is challenge 2!
The truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you are charging £1000 or £100,000 for your services – there are people at every price point pushing for a bargain – particularly in these straightened times.
I consider myself a pretty experienced planner with over 3 years working wedding sales and operations in hotels and over 4 years now as a freelancer. I am extremely lucky in that almost all of my clients fall arguably into the luxury market with budgets over £75,000 (although, those of us who were in the room with Sylvia Weinstock in New York last year know that ‘that is not luxury’). But it has taken me a long time to get here including 8 months at a hotel working 80+ hours a week for £13,500 a year and offering services for free through a ‘win a wedding planner’ contests and for friends.
So why is it that after all that, when chatting to a new planner, I can speak with complete confidence about my experience and pricing, but when a potential client pushes back, it is only within the last year that I have learned not to buckle?
It comes down to belief in your own value. If in doubt, try not to think about you valuing your own time and knowledge, but think about what value it offers the client:
Does your service save them endless hours researching etiquette and Googling suppliers. Yes! So what is that time worth to them?
Does your service allow the client to achieve their wedding day without stress or hassle. Yes! So what is that peace of mind worth to them?
If you still don’t see your value, then give some thought to the services you might employ day to day:
Does your cleaner save you time and effort at home? Yes! Do you resent or undervalue them? Hell no!
Does your accountant’s expertise save you from having to take an accountancy course and save you money and time on the long run? Yes! Any problems paying their bill? Nope!
In other words, yes you should consider your experience levels when setting your charges, but once that process is done, stick by those prices, because you are awesome!
Here at the UKAWP we have seen many discussions about what to charge and frankly we’re shocked at how low some of those fees are. We always teach our students to work out how much work is actually involved in the service they are providing. Another very important factor is location: fair or unfair, location does play a part in what you can charge. By doing the proper research into the demographics in your area, and combining that with your skill set, you can come up with a realistic fee structure. BUT, at all times the fee should be realistic enough to ensure you are making a living, earning less than minimum wage is not smart.
For further reading, head to:
Preston Bailey – various posts
The Value of our Charges By Siobhan Craven Robins
English Wedding Blog
Weddings for a Living
Good points Isabel. Its always a difficult one as you will always find someone undercutting your services who is less experienced than you or who does not value their time quite as much as you do (and when I say you I mean me too!). We have noticed a number of planners popping up in our area recently offering “full plan” for as low as £250!!! I simply cannot believe why or what people will do for that kind of money. As my business progresses I feel even more strongly than before that the quality and value of the service that good planners provide truly is second to none and the stress relief and time saving that we give to our couples really does make the service we offer worth something of value and I wish that all planners could see that. My saying has always been “you pay peanuts and you get monkeys” so I wont agree to cut fees to price match another planner when I really feel that what we offer is a cut above and I can justify each and every pound we charge with the savings we make and the added value and pleasure we bring.
I so identified with the points you raise and as I am an independent planner these thoughts are often mulled over without anyone else there to discuss.
Sometimes I feel caught between helping someone with their dream or saying I cannot help them as the cost becomes my own and thus means fewer clients.
The economy is forcing everyone to budget or in some cases clients give you the brief and what they will pay and the delivery is down to the wedding planner and often with expectations out of proportion.
Whether the budget is high end or small I believe the question is as you say one of value to the couple. Destination weddings a planner may be a necessity specially with dealing with legal requirements but if the client only views the planner as someone who executes their wishes as an administrator then asking for a fee than is repesentative of the service and experience will never be balanced