So here we are…. We’ve got a bride who is frazzled, out of control and quite possibly in need of an exorcism. Part II, we talked about some red flags that often reveal themselves.
How do you deal reactively and proactively, remembering that your company’s image is on the line?
First things first– I’m not perfect. I love the Lord and I truly try to operate my business and my life in His image. But… I’m still on the Potter’s Wheel, y’all! Some times I have to take a step back, because I will open the Library and read for filth, honey!
There have been times when I have had to let my team act as lead and I act as their second or third because I knew if one more person said something to me, I was going to straight Angela Bassett their wedding…remember that scene from Waiting to Exhale?
It’s like working with kids. Remember you’re the adult. You’re the business owner. They came to YOU for your expertise and talent. You set the stage for how you work, how you provide your work and you when you provide it. Moreover, remember that you should not be disrespected. As I mentioned in Part I, after every bridezilla, there are new contract changes– we have clauses for language, bringing in other people to try to act as coordinators, day of duties, etc.
Translation: Here are a list of crazy things I am not entertaining at your wedding.
The best way to eliminate this from the get go is to discuss everyone’s expectations up front. Yours, your team members and the clients. Remember, this is a foreign land to your clients. They may have distorted images of weddings, what wedding planners do and what brides do. You have the potential suffer from bad experiences with other friends’ wedding planners and what they have seen on reality TV.
During your initial consult or phone conversation, don’t be afraid to ask questions like “What do you think a wedding planner does?” or “What are your expectations for your wedding planning process?”. These reveal the current mindset of your client, which in turn, is the perfect opportunity to correct or confirm any assumptions they have. This is very important, as it prevents awkward and sometimes angry conversations later when the client is under the impression that you were going to handle something that may be outside of your service provisions. The best way to avoid this to establish (and at times repeat) what your service entails and includes.
Okay, so that’s before they book. What if they change during the planning process? How do you even begin to deal with this? It really comes from two things: your process and some deep self reflection. First, you should examine and reinforce your process.
- Boundaries. Boundaries are SO important. They aren’t just to keep bad things out but also to keep good things in. Be sure to explain why you have them so that the clients trust them.
- Office Hours. This is their wedding, not yours. Moreover, even though you’re making them feel like the only client, in reality, we know they are not. And even if you don’t have a ton of clients, one day you will and you will cherish your off time. You are not an OBGYN always on call. This is a wedding. Not thoracic surgery. Your response can wait until you open for business the next day.
- Charge for Your Work. If you let one freebie, one discount, or one whatever slide by, it will become expected all of the time. It will open up a Pandora’s box of questions and assumptions. You deserve to be paid, honey.
Is there anything you may have done to contribute to her behavior– missed communications, failure to meet deadlines or major tasks, etc.? Don’t worry, there are still ways to get the ship on course. First, you must set things right with your client; this may be in the form of a mea culpa or apology, but it should always end with a positive program going forward to counteract the previous experience.
In reality, working with a difficult client comes from everything you do and ingrain into your work process. Your workflow and values should be the backbone for you to rely on during good and hard times with clients.
Remember: A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.