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Virtual Consulting

Interested in using Synergetic Consulting, but can't commit to the Boot Camp? Read more about our Virtual Consulting below.

General Information

Virtual consulting services are perfect for the business owner who wants to succeed in the event industry - whether you are in the beginning stages of building your company or are a seasoned pro looking to get to the next level. Consultation sessions will be custom tailored to fit your needs and are billed on an hourly basis.

Potential Topics: 

·         Business growth

·         Marketing plans

·         Training your staff

·         Financial reporting

·         Systems integration

·         Organizational charts

·         Custom topics based on your needs

Details:

·         $150 per hour (minimum of 1 hour)

·         Hours must be purchased in full blocks, no partial billing

·         Consulting can be done via phone, Skype, and FaceTime

Course Description

Prior to your first consulting session, you will receive a Client Report to complete, which allows me to get to know you and your business. Following the completion of the report, we will coordinate a 30 minute conversation to review the details. Finally, I will create a plan for us to achieve together, which will be unique for every business.

The 30 minute conversation and Client Report are included with your initial consultation session, and will not be deducted from your hourly services.

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Training

Training is a vital part of keeping your company going strong. As important as it is, it's often forgotten about because day-to-day business takes over.

Earlier this week, we held our first quarterly team training meeting with our photo booth employees. The photo booth division, while newer to our business, is one of the fastest growing divisions. Why hadn't we gotten the team together before to review best practices, teach general troubleshooting and listen to their feedback? That's a great question! Businesses often get "too busy" and overlook the importance of training. We are diligent about holding quarterly meetings with our DJs and productions techs, so adding the photo booth trainings was a no brainer. Not only were we able to update the staff on policies and procedures, we were able to hear from them on what's working and what's not working, and how we can make the division even better going forward!

I challenge you to do something outside of your daily tasks this week to help train someone in your business. If you are in charge of a team of people, get your employees together for an hour or two to review a few important topics so you can start the year off right. You'll be happy you did!

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Leads/Appointments

One of the key statistics I look for in companies is the lead to appointment ratio. This number can tell you a lot about your business and where it is going, as well as what is working and what isn’t. I use it a lot to know if my marketing, in general, is working. 

We all know to get more business, we need to generate more leads. But to generate more leads, we need to market, advertise, jump up and down in the street – pretty much do whatever it takes. But we need to quantify what we are doing and make sure it is working. And the first indicator you can use is the amount of leads that you are generating.

Let’s take a direct mail campaign for example. If you start the campaign in January, you will want to watch the amount of leads come in for the next few months. They should go up. If they don’t, you know something isn’t working in the campaign itself. And if you aren’t even keeping track of the leads to begin with, you would be completely lost!

Now let’s say that the leads go up, but the appointments stay the same. This can tell you that the marketing is working, but there is a problem with the sale or the pricing or something else. You can keep the campaign and change something in the pipeline. Again, all by just looking at the lead to appointment ratio. And imagine knowing how many leads came in during the same month last year at the current year time…now you have historical data. Even better!

So, start keeping track of the leads as they come in. Start keeping track of the appointments as you book them. Let’s try and find your ratio!

 

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Lawyers – How do I pick one!

The last post we talked about contracts and making sure to see a lawyer about getting the right one made for you. And that got me thinking about some questions you might have. How do I pick a lawyer!

Well, for starters, understand that lawyers are not bad! We need them. They are here to help you run a successful business and keep you out of trouble. But every now and then, the situation arises where you need them to help you through a tough predicament.

So that is where I will start off first. The worst time to find a lawyer is when you need on. You need to get a lawyer when you don’t need one, so they can start to get you headed in the right direction.

And finding a lawyer isn’t all the difficult. The best way would be to get recommendations, this should be the only step you have take, but if you do need more, your local business chamber should be able to help.

Next, you want to do a quick phone interview with 5-7 of them. Ask them questions, listen to what they say, get a vibe from them and see if you connect in anyway. Most importantly ask them if they are familiar with your line of business and understand the law that applies. (You will find that you get two types of lawyers, ones that work for firms and ones that are independent. They both do a great job, so no worries with that!)

Once you find 3 that you feel good with over the phone, go talk to them. See if they are just as comfortable in person, as they are over the phone. How do they make you feel, ask them about their practice, how long they have been doing law, what they charge. Ask them every single question you can think of! Find the one you connect with.

Now, most people think you need one lawyer. And I disagree. Sometimes it isn’t bad to have two lawyers. Imagine it this way. You don’t go to one doctor, right? You have your general doctor and then a specialist. I do the same for the law. Sometimes I just need a second opinion.

What you are trying to find is someone that will understand your business and protect it, prepare you for things you don’t see coming and be able to represent for you when things do happen that might not be good. 

Remember that you don’t have to keep your lawyer. Sometimes it is all peachy in the beginning, and then things start to change. So you may have to shop around during your businesses life.  At the end of the day, it’s nothing personal. You need to have the best person on your team all the time, ready to protect you and what you have worked so hard for!

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Contracts

I ask the question to a lot of the clients I consult with on what their contracts look like and I am always very surprised at the answers I get back.

Number one, I was shocked at how many events get done without a contract. I was even more shocked to see a sample of the contracts that people are actually using!

The first thing that every single one of you need to do (if you haven’t already) is to meet with a lawyer and make sure that your contract is: 1) legal and 2) covers you in every aspect.

Contracts can be very specific. Even down to the county that you live in, so you need to speak with someone who knows your states laws and even your counties laws. You can’t just take someone else’s contact and use it for your own company. That makes no sense and is disaster waiting to happen.

The second thing you need to do is make sure it is prepared for every single event you do. You need this for a few reasons.

1)      It is part of being a professional business operation  

2)      It clearly defines the terms of what you will provide, what is to be provided by the client and the details that must be followed

3)      It is usually needed for insurance coverage’s

Contracts also need to be reviewed from time to time. If you haven’t read yours over lately, make it a point to do so on a yearly basis.

I am not a lawyer and don’t offer legal advice, so I don’t want to tell you what needs to be in them or how they should be made. All I want you to know is that contracts are important and they are a huge help when things might be headed in the wrong direction.

So, your homework? Go see a lawyer and get your contracts working for you!  

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Smartest person in your company…yea right!

I find myself living by this statement more and more as my company grows each year. I am starting to become a person who can help, chime in and/or direct on certain things, but I am certainly not the smartest person in the company. Now this doesn’t mean that I am clueless, far from it. I bring some very valuable traits to the company. Leadership, direction and poise are my best attributes, but managing the office, directing the operations, running the productions, prepping the team are not my best skills. And that is where I need people that are better than me, well not better, but have other strengths.

In order for your company to grow, you need to have some people on your team that are truly better then you at certain things. You need more talented people in certain areas. You need people that can get the job done the way it was supposed to be done. And then you need to let them do it. Get the heck out of the way!

Smart business owners get this. They understand that a company filled with smart people managing it will make for a better company. A company that can see new avenues for revenue, create systems to accomplish those avenues and then ultimately put the right people in place to get it done are all going to be more successful then the business owner who just tries to do it all himself or herself.

But it’s hard. It’s not in your DNA. If you hire people smarter than you, they may try and change things from the way you founded your company. They may steal your ideas and go start their own company. Or probably the worst outcome, they may see your weaknesses. What YOU aren’t good at!

But folks, that is what we want. You can’t be good at everything. You can’t always be the smartest one in the room. You have to learn from people and what better way to learn then by someone you are paying to make you money! I mean, makes sense doesn’t it. Go out and find the best, brightest, smartest person available to you at the time the position is available and fitting the requirements that you are offering. And then hire them!

Whatever you do, do not WAIT for the perfect person to come along, they never will. You are going to hire some people that you thought were smart, but really are just like everyone else. You will let them go and start the process all over again. Some people you will hire and right away will have you questioning yourself “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”But ultimately, the idea is to get people on the bus that can all sit in the rights seats and know what to do, without being told what seat to sit in and what to do while sitting.

 

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To business plan or not

Most of us are never going to have to hand our business plan to anybody else. So, it really is up to you to decide if you want to do one. However, if you choose not to do one, good luck.

 

Business plans are really only for one reason. To get all the ideas that are in your head down on paper. It allows you to analyze all the components of your business and see if it will work, BEFORE you go ahead and start this idea of yours. That is why it is essential.

 

The key to the business plan is to be as detailed as you possibly can with the information that you have available. Drill down to the most specific ideas that you can. Leave nothing up for speculation.

 

There is a big myth that once you are done the plan, that’s it, you are done. Wrong! Your business plan is going to change constantly. It is an evolving piece of work that is always being tweaked and updated. Each time you add to it, you make the business stronger, because you are thinking about the steps before you take them.

 

Business plans are going to incorporate the following sections

-          Good description about what it is that you are doing. Your USP. The reason why you are doing it.

-          Your target market? Who are you going to offer it to?

-          What is your product or your service?

-          Who is going to lead it? Who is going to work for it?

-          What are the financials? Where are you getting the money to start it and how will you generate revenue.

-          How are you going to market your product or service?

 

If you can answer those questions in less than a 25 page summary, then you are one step closer to having a successful business.

 

Don’t over look this step! So many business people say “It’s in my head!” That is the worst thing you can do. Write it down. It will make things a lot easier for you.

 

Make sure to visit the SBA website for even more information on business plans.

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The Hiring Cycle

People are going to leave your company at some point. They could move on for a few reasons, including wanting more of a challenge in another company, or they could get promoted, or they could get fired. Who knows, but what you need to know is that you need to be prepared. When you hire someone, you have to think of it as a chess match. Where is this employee going to be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? And you need to already be working on developing their replacement within months of hiring them.

 

Think about it. If the person you hire does a great job, they may want different responsibilities. If things aren’t working out, you may want to fire them. If they are doing a great job, but just need a little help, you may need two people to do the same job. No matter what, you always need to have a protégé in the mix waiting to step in. 

 

So how do you go about getting this started, you ask? Easy: figure out your hiring cycle. See, every company needs to offset its hiring so it can constantly have people rotating when the time comes. The rotation can be in a number of actions, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you saw the rotation coming and that you were prepared. 

 

For instance, let’s say you need to hire a secretary. You would think that’s easy, just go find someone who can be a great secretary. But I say, in a year or so, you may need a sales person. So why not find a hidden gem in a secretary, that would also be able to sell for you in the future. Maybe you need a new warehouse associate. Or maybe you need a new warehouse associate now, who can turn into an operations manager in 2 years. Or maybe you are hiring for a position that you don’t want growth from. Then you need to understand and expect that in two years, this person will be gone. In that case, you need to make sure you are hiring their replacement, before they even know they are even thinking about leaving. 

 

Being prepared at all times will help you not have lapses in hiring. Or getting stuck with too few employees. As your company grows, this will get easier, but think about these next few things before you hire someone new:

  • If everything goes well, what would you expect this new hire to be doing in 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?
  • Is this a position for growth? If so, when will you likely want them to move out of the position and when will you look for their replacement? If no, when will you start to look for their replacement?
  • What is the position really doing for you? Is a general position or is it an infantry position? Generals come along with goals and set ways of growing themselves and your company. Infantries clock in and clock out.

 

"I Can’t"

So when you say, "I can’t," do really mean you can’t? Or do you mean that you choose not to? Both are fine, but I "can’t" is a really lousy excuse. There are lots of people that say "I can’t do ____." I can’t sing, I can’t jump high, and I can’t get any shorter. But other things that I might say I can’t do are all just an excuse. I can’t get up early. I can’t lose weight. I can’t spend more time with people. Lousy, big, stupid excuses for me just say, "I choose not to." Stop choosing not to. It makes you like everyone else. And I know you aren’t like everyone else. 

 

Looking People in the Eye

Part of selling is convincing people that you are the best option. The other part of selling is actually being the best option. I can’t help you with the latter, but I can help you with convincing them. The next time you are in a sales pitch, look them dead in the eye and deliver your message. Don’t blink, don’t look away, don’t move a muscle. Give them your pitch and look them straight in the eyes. Look someone in the eyes, and they will never know the difference. 

 

If…

There was on old story about a king that was going to invade a country and its people. The people of that country had a great leader and was not backing down. The king sent a warning, “You will lose if I have to come there and battle you.” The young leader wrote back “If.” How many times are we threatened by the bigger company, the people that are more successful than us, or the companies that are more well known? Let them be threatened, but make them bring the fight. You mind your course and deal with them as needed. You have your own business to run and be successful in. 

 

Be part of your deal

Some companies want to try and make their customer feel as if they are getting a deal with a discount. But why not make them feel as they are getting a deal by helping a small, incredibly amazing company grow into something that they could say they were a part of? Sounds much better doesn’t it? You want you to try and make your customer aware that you are a small business and that you want to grow. And you want to be able to offer an amazing service to so many other clients just like them. Most people want to be part of something cool. They want to feel like they helped a company get to where they are today and they will do everything they can do support it. Don’t believe me? One word: Apple. Go be the next Apple. 

 

Who you surround yourself with

I heard the comedian Kevin Hart once say, "you can judge the success of a person by they company they are surrounded by." Who is surrounding you? Do you have a bunch of naysayers? A bunch of people that are happy being content? A bunch of people that don’t help you become better? That is not going to work for you. You need to be at the bottom of your friend pool always looking to learn from what other people have done. No book, no classroom, no webinar is going to take the place of being around other people. The right people around you give off such great vibes. They cheer for you. They help you. They show you a thing or two. They teach you. Take a look at your surroundings. Are you happy with what you see?

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Business Plans

To business plan or not to business plan?

 

Most of us are never going to have to hand our business plan to anybody else. So, it really is up to you to decide if you want to do one. However, if you choose not to do one, good luck.

 

Business plans are really only for one reason. To get all the ideas that are in your head down on paper. It allows you to analyze all the components of your business and see if it will work, BEFORE you go ahead and start this idea of yours. That is why it is essential.

 

The key to the business plan is to be as detailed as you possibly can with the information that you have available. Drill down to the most specific ideas that you can. Leave nothing up for speculation.

 

There is a big myth that once you are done the plan, that’s it, you are done. Wrong! Your business plan is going to change constantly. It is an evolving piece of work that is always being tweaked and updated. Each time you add to it, you make the business stronger, because you are thinking about the steps before you take them.

 

Business plans are going to incorporate the following sections

-          Good description about what it is that you are doing. Your USP. The reason why you are doing it.

-          Your target market? Who are you going to offer it to?

-          What is your product or your service?

-          Who is going to lead it? Who is going to work for it?

-          What are the financials? Where are you getting the money to start it and how will you generate revenue.

-          How are you going to market your product or service?

 

If you can answer those questions in less than a 25 page summary, then you are one step closer to having a successful business.

 

Don’t over look this step! So many business people say “It’s in my head!” That is the worst thing you can do. Write it down. It will make things a lot easier for you.

 

Make sure to visit the SBA website for even more information on business plans.

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We & I

There was an article written by Peter Merry, a big supporter of the DJ industry, which was a concept that I have been preaching to many of the customers I consult with. So many people in the wedding industry like to throw out the term “we” as if they have 30 people working for them. Why would you want to appear bigger then you are, if it is just you!

If it is just you, use that to your advantage and let your prospects and customers know that you are the person they deal with all the time. Sure you may have some part time help, but for the most part, because it is just you, that is the best reason why they should book you.

Big companies are always trying to get better at making their company more personalized and thought of as a smaller company, why are you trying to do the opposite? Being just you has a ton of advantages and you should take all of them! I know some people say that you want to seem bigger and that will get you more work, but in today’s world, I believe that as long as you can deliver the same experience, if not a better experience, you will continue to be awarded the work.

Here are some of the top reasons that you can use as sales tools if it is just you:

-          I only take a limited number of events and I want to make sure we are a good fit

-          You only deal with me

-          I make sure to personally devote more time to each customer I work with since I don’t take that many customers

-          I can build a better relationship with you leading up to your wedding, which will ultimately make for a better job on my part

What are some other things you can think of that you can use to your advantage?

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Office Hours

Time is one thing we never seem to have enough of. We always complain that we want more and wish we could squeeze another hour into the day. Most of us wedding professionals could probably work 24 hours a day and still not have enough time to get caught up. Well, at least you think you will never get caught up.

Most of us never have time to do the fun things in life. Our families complain they don’t see us enough, we rarely take time for ourselves and our life kinda flies by. I have a little hint that I think can fix that.

First up, you will never be totally caught up. The quicker you can understand that, the quicker you will start to have more time for other, more personal things. But the best thing you can do is create office hours. Office hours are great because they not only tell your client when you are working, but they also tell YOU when you are working.

It takes a little time in the beginning to get used to, but believe me, it creates a whole new mindset for you. Think about it…right now you probably just work. No start time, no end time. If the phone rings, you pick it up. No matter what time of day. Imagine if you didn’t have to?

The best part about office hours is that you can create them. So lets say you want to work 10am to 7pm. You post those hours everywhere, including your voicemail. When your customers call or research you, they know when to expect you. You now know when you have to be at work and when you have leave. It starts to set a structure for your business life, which in turn helps your personal life.

“But what about the phone ringing at 8:30pm…and it’s a prospect!” That’s easy. Don’t answer it. They will leave a voicemail or call back tomorrow. Just like you and the rest of the world does when they want to talk to someone. People don’t expect to talk to someone at 8:30pm at night and if they value your time, they will understand.

And the excuse of, “Well if they talk to my competition at 8:30 at night, I might lose that job”, I got news for you, if that prospect made a decision to book your competitor, based on one phone call at 8:30 at night and doesn’t feel the need to call other professionals, that wasn’t going to be your client anyway.

You need to enjoy downtime every day, not just once a week. Throw up some thought out office hours and see how your day starts to get more under control.

 

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People that get things done

Hiring people can always be a challenging task. None of us are actually good at it. We have either hired enough wrong people to see a pattern, or we just are really lucky. I read an article last week that I thought was really interesting and I couldn’t help but think that hiring people is more of a review of someone’s life, instead  of looking at what they are going to do for you. More a look back, than a look forward.

I think many of us make the mistake and look into the future and get excited about what this person will do for you and the company, when we should be looking at their past for the proper clues. And when I say the past, I don’t mean where they went to school or how good their GPA was. I mean what have they done. Plain and simple, show me what you have done with your life as a whole.  What are you proud of. What are the accomplishments.

If I can see what you have done, it is going to tell me what you will do. Past performance is the key to future predications. Don’t get me wrong, you have to dig a little to see what qualifies as to what they have done. People will talk.  And talk is easy. So you have to ask the right questions about what they have done. Some of my favorite are:

-          Tell me about a time that you had to make a tough decision that was related to the business you were working for. What was it and what was the outcome?

-          Tell me about a typical business day in your life?

-          Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a decision and you wanted a different decision to be made. How did you handle it?

Companies that are filled with people that get things done will be more successful. You need to find a way to attract those people to your company as quickly as you can and keep them. And the interview process is where it starts. Stop looking at resumes and start looking at who they are as a person and what they accomplish in a given amount of time.

Doers will always be more important than a GPA in my book!

 

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End result worth more than the risk or repercussion

Far too often we find ourselves not doing something because we don’t see the end result clearly enough. So we don’t push through the pain or hard work of getting there. It is not until we see the goal and the clear results of that goal for us to actually take action.

For instance, many of us wedding professionals give up our weekends because it is part of our job, as well as the fact that we love what we do and that we are compensated pretty well for it. To us, the repercussions of not being there for our loved ones and friends on the weekends is worth the reward of how we feel when we work.

The exact opposite holds true for self employed people. The risk of running your own business is what makes the end result worth it. Because the repercussion of going back to work for someone else is just not acceptable. But there are a whole other group of people that think the exact opposite. The reward of being self employed and the freedoms that come with it, just isn’t great enough for some people. So they choose to stay in the working world. The repercussion of failure  just isn’t worth it.

I think it is also interesting that the same people can have different feelings on two different concepts, but yet be so entrenched on one of those thoughts that you would think they would always feel the same way no matter what the situation that came at them. For instance, the self employed business owner who is so risky in business, but yet does the same thing every day, day in and day out, because he doesn’t want to be too risky or be a little different.

Or the person who doesn’t want to start their own business because it is too risky, but continues to live life to the fullest and never settle down on one job. Constantly changing their mind and trying different things.

So if we can’t pin point it to the person or personality, what can we determine is the cause? Easy, the goal. If the goal is not clear enough. Not concise enough. We won’t be able to see through the risk or repercussions of doing it. If the idea of adding a new stream of revenue to your company doesn’t give you a big enough reward to get you off the couch and watching that TV show, you are not going to do it.

The goal has to be clear. And when that happens, the reward becomes very real. And when the reward becomes real, the risks and repercussions go by the wayside and you turn into a machine that only accepts success and failure is not in the forecast.

So, what goals can you clear up and re-focus on? 

 

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Banking on Bridal Shows

Bridal shows either go one of two ways. You pay for one and get a decent amount of inquiries which hopefully turn into bookings or you pay for one and get nothing out of it. Unfortunately, I think the latter plays true for most wedding based businesses. But why?

 

Where else could we get all the people that want, better yet need, our service in one room at one time. As for finding prospects, this is a great way to get in front on of them. Now as far as qualified prospects, that isn’t always the case. So the first piece of advice is…

 

Pick the right show. Due your diligence and find out who is promoting the show, talk to past exhibitors and make sure the show is going to attract the people that you want to sell to. Don’t just do a bridal show to do one. Like every other business, some are better than others.

 

Once you have the show that is right for you, you are going to have to come up with a game plan. That plan should include the following:

-          Your set up and booth

-          What you are going to handout

-          What you are going to say

-          How you will follow up

 

Your booth needs to be eye catching. It needs to stand out. Scrap the table and get creative. Tables act as interference between you and the bride/groom. Keep your space open and allow people to “come in” to your area. We use pipe and drape and create a “U” shape area, exactly like what you would see at a tradeshow convention. Get a really nice sign made out of a heavy material and hang it high off the back of the pipe and drape. Use some truss or road cases to put your information on. We don’t ever bring out any DJ gear, nor do we bring out any plasma screens. The nice sign we have tells everyone what we do, and they can see that sign the second they walk in the room, no matter where they are. You can always purchase plenty of prefab set ups, but the idea is to get creative and set yourself apart from everybody at the show.

 

Now that your booth looks good, you have to have something to hand out. Why go through all the trouble of doing a show and then hand out computer printed 8.5x11 papers about what you do! We hand out a DVD. It is in a nice DVD case, with a professionally designed front and back cover. Inside is a little brochure about what we do. The idea is to get them to want to take it out of the bag when they get home. Your piece has to make them want to call you! The sales piece and business cards should be in two distinct areas in your booth for people to take from.

 

As you are handing them your literature you will have 30 seconds to tell them what you do. How many of you have that elevator speech polished and ready to go. 30 seconds is not a lot of time and think about all the other professionals they may have talked to! Make sure your speech is concise, informative and funny. Making them laugh will be the easiest way to get them to remember you. Whatever you come up with, make sure you say it to everyone. You will use part of that line in your follow up. Especially the funny part!

 

Now comes the most important part of the show. The follow up. Please don’t think that because you show up, the brides will magically start to call and business will just take off. It won’t. In fact, in most cases you may not even book anybody at the show. The real work comes after the show is done.

 

You have to come up with a plan that will allow you to stay in touch with that prospect over the next 6-12 months. And you have to stick to that plan. Every show you do should give you a lead list. Emailing is going to be the easiest way to get in touch with them, but you could certainly call as well. To many people email them once and call it day. With so many email programs out today, it should be very simple to work the lead list. This is the biggest mistake I see wedding professionals make when they do a show.

 

In closing, remember this. Bridal shows aren’t always about the quantity of people that are there. It’s the quality. Some of the best shows we did only had 20-30 brides. Pick the right shows, have a great set up, know what to say and follow up early and often and you will be set!

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Marketing plans will save you time!

Time is of the essence for everybody, we only have so much of it. You can’t possible work 24 hours a day trying to get prospects to call. You have a life and you need to enjoy it. So why not cheat a little and get the prospects that do call, be somewhat pre-qualified by the process in which they found out about you in the first place. For instance, it is a lot easier to sell a bride on a pricier DJ service if she is spending money on a pricier venue.

 

Enter the marketing plan. One of the most important parts of a marketing plan is defining who you are actually going to market to. Commonly referred to as your target market. “Anybody who needs a DJ” is not a target market. It needs to be defined by a few key questions that you can ask yourself. However, you have to be serious with the answers. You can’t just spit out the first couple of thoughts that come to your mind. Take an hour or two to really think about whom it is you want to work for or, better yet, who is really likely to buy your service.

 

So here are the two big questions I want you to know:

1)      What is the typical income range your prospect?

2)      What is the age range of the prospects?

 

These questions are going to define the who, where, why and how of your marketing plan.

 

The reason why you need to know the income range of your client is because you want to know where you are going to advertise or market your service. Every place you advertise or market is going to have their particular target market of their choice. Let’s take a wedding for instance, a local, high end bridal magazine maybe better for you if you are single op wither higher rates, then say, a national company with local presence who is going after the lower priced events.

 

How about recommendations. If professional referrals are part of your plan, and they should be, we want those referrals to be people who are more likely to book us. As I said before, you want to be recommended by the higher end professionals (if you offer a high end service) which will lead to more converted prospects. Don’t get me wrong, you will take referrals from anyone, but it is the “time” part we are trying to simplify.

 

The reason why we need to know the age range is almost the same reason why we need to know the income level. We want to know where, but also how, we are going to advertise our service. Different age groups have different ways of finding services. You need to know who you want to work with the most and then get in front of them. A 25 year old bride is going to be in a different frame of mind then a high school activities director. You can’t have the same plan for different age groups.

 

As a side note, you can’t possibly say “all age ranges” because that means you would be able to DJ everything for everybody. And while I think it is safe to say that a DJ can DJ any type of party, we just want to know the one to two events you want to do most.

 

So get working on those questions and watch how much easier and clearer your marketing life will get.

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Patience

You are good at what you do. You have a great support staff around you. Your customers keep coming back. But…you just can’t seem to get over the hump or to the next level. The break that you are waiting for just isn’t on the horizon. And you don’t know what to do about it!

Sound like you?

After talking to many different companies, I have found one thing seems to be consistent with many of them. Patience.

In a world where most of us want everything now, or tomorrow, it seems as if patience is a lost art. Waiting for something isn’t an option. We want it now! But when talking to these successful business owners, they all seemed to claim just “sticking around” was their secret weapon. They didn’t try to grow too fast, and they made sure not fall stay down too long when times were tough. They were consistent. And over the years, that consistency paid off.

Each of our businesses are going to have its up and downs, its ebbs and flows. Which we all wish we could be in the up and flow, the reality is that we can’t. Instead of wishing for that, I like to think that staying in a straight line, with a upward movement (no matter how small, as long as it is up), is a very good thing.

You learn a lot about yourself and your company when you slow down and let patience take over. You  grow smarter. You grow soundly. And most of all, you appreciate where you came from.

Sometimes the industry you are in is flooded with competitors and it will take some time before people find you. But you have to be there. Day in and day out. Doing a good job, priced right and delivering what you say you will. If you do this consistently and have the patience to stick it out, people will start to notice. And you will start to grow.

 

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What makes them WANT you…

I was talking to a successful business owner the other day and we were questioning why people buy things. And he kept going back to the same concept that people want to buy something because it is different. People buy things because in their mind, it is the newest “thing to have”

My friend owns a local marketing company and he is booked solid all the time. Obviously the question came up on how he does it. On a side note, I always get a laugh that we both look at each other’s companies and analyze them as if what we are doing is horrible and there is a totally better way to be doing it! His concept of delivering something new to the market on a consistent basis has his current clients, as well as new, potential clients, calling him wanting to use his company.

I talk to a lot companies that are trying to figure out how they can win business, how can they get a share of the market. And the answer to this question is the same answer as my friend gave. Deliver something that not only makes your customer want to come back to you for, but they HAVE to come back to you for.

We are in the wedding business. So the barriers to entry for most of us are pretty small. For most of our professions, anybody can “say” they do what we do and have the basics of what they need to do it within a month or so. This makes trying to provide that “thing” you do very difficult, but you have to find out what it is. What is the one thing that is going to get your prospects, your current clients and the area professionals to always use you!

I don’t think it is going to be something that you can come up with in a few hours. This is going to take some time and some thought. It is going to be more of a culture, more of a way of doing business. For some of you, it may be always having the new technology and then making sure everyone knows that you have it. For others, it may be all about the creative side. You will be the most creative company that they can find, and it will show in every job that you do.

But what you can’t do, is what everybody else is doing. If you are doing that, then there is no reason to call you. You can’t expect the average person to want to use you, if it’s perceived that you do the same thing as the other company. If that is the case, you are going to continue to stay in the position that you are in. You will always be the other company.

So take some time and give yourself a little more of an identity on what would make them want to book. And please, make sure it isn’t what everybody else is saying, because when I ask this question, almost every person gives me something that 5 other people told me.

P.S. – Here is an example. I was talking to a video company and when I asked them what made them different and why they were so popular, they told me it is simple. Two reasons, number one, they use editors that eventually move onto Hollywood (this company is located in LA, so it is really easy for them to find great editors!). They typically only stay with the company for a few years, but they have built this into their system and found a way to make it work. And people want Hollywood editors working on their wedding film. The second thing…they use 8mm cameras. Go figure!

 

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To do list

Being self employed has many advantages, but it also comes with quite a few disadvantages. One of those disadvantages is the time one has, or should I say the amount of time someone thinks they have. Most self employed people always want more time. If they had that, things could be a little better.

First off, I think that statement is totally bogus. If you have more time, you would only want more time. So let’s just be okay with the amount of time that we have!

Second, some of the things we do during the day don’t really need to be done. We just find a way to distract ourselves from what really NEEDS to be done. Think about the 5-10 things you do during the day that eat away at your productive self!

Thirdly, be okay with what you get accomplished and realize that there will always be things that have to get done. It just is the nature of you! I am always trying to finish up one thing, so I can jump to another thing. And then 3 other things pop up. But I’m happy with myself at the end of the day. I know me and I know that I have to concentrate hard to get some of those small, boring tasks done. If I don’t look at the smaller, 2-3 things that need to get done, I look at ALL the things that need to be done…and then nothing gets done.

So don’t worry if you didn’t get all your to do list done. There will always be something on it. Just make sure you get the most important task done for the day. The ones that can at least let you feel most accomplished.

 

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Getting Paid

One of the first questions I ask a company when they start consulting with me is how they get paid. And the most common answer I hear is “the night of the event”. So much so that it stopped surprising me. Now I pretty much assume this is the answer I will get.

And while this isn’t a horrible practice, it isn’t exactly a “best” practice. I mean, you are hoping that this check will clear from people that you don’t really know.  And you don’t find this out until after you have done the job. Might I suggest that you try and look at it differently?

You can’t take the chance of not getting paid. You need that revenue to run your business. So why not get it in advance? Take away that risk and make sure that everything is squared up well before the event.

Our company requires full payment 3 weeks in advance. This gives us enough time to make sure the check clears. That will take at least 2-5 days depending on your bank. The only negative response we get to this policy is that the client doesn’t want to pay that early. And I can tell you first hand that we very rarely have a client that gives us a hard time. And if they do, we have some options for them. They can pay cash the day before the wedding (We never accept payment the night of the event, especially cash! That is asking for trouble) or they could also pay by credit card.

But here is the best way to overcome that reservation. Explain it before they sign any contract. When explained properly, you should be able to get them to understand.

Before our clients sign any contracts, they know our policy, so any reservations will come up right at the beginning. Their fear is that they will pay us this large amount of money and we won’t show up, leaving them high and dry. We tell them that if they think that, we probably aren’t a good fit. They are sitting in an incredible office, read awesome reviews about our company and were referred by 3-4 different people. The last thing we are going to do is not show up. We have bills to pay! We also explain that they can put the balance on a credit card, so if they are really worried, they always have that recourse.

But, the most common answer I get back from companies is that they just haven’t thought about it. The have never thought about how they should get paid. Well, here is your chance. Waiting to the night of the event is bound to get you burned at some point. They could come up with any kind of reason to NOT pay you and you can’t have that. You run a professional business and in doing so, you can’t be burned.

Some businesses do have deliverables, such as photographers and videographers. In that case, at least half of the balance should be paid before the event. Typically a 33% initial payment, another 33% due 3 weeks before the event and the rest due when you deliver the final product. No matter what, making sure that you get at least more than 50% paid (I would love to see 75%) before then event.

Having a good pricing policy in place should be the first order of business. Ask your past clients for their opinion. Ask other professionals in your area as well. Get as much information as you can before you go live with your new policy. And then stick with it. There might be a little resistance at first, but stick it out. And remember, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the way it used to be. But give it a shot and don’t go running back to the old ways after 48 hours! Have some faith.

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Delegation

As a business owner, I believe growth is something that you should be constantly thinking about. It doesn’t have to be physical growth, as in getting bigger, but it could mean educational growth, financial growth or operations growth.  On the flip side, the one thing you can’t do is stay stale.

For even the smallest amount of growth, delegation is key. But from what I find when I talk to people is that delegation is the hardest thing to do! They just can’t let go of the little things. And the one reason everybody seems to give is “Nobody can do it like me”. The second most common answer, “I can’t find good help and they end up not working out”.

So let me give you a tip on making this transition easier.

You have to write down what you want. All of it. Even the smallest parts. Then you have to analyze it. Re-write it. And make sure it all makes sense. I would be willing to bet that any type of delegation you have tried to do has been the kind that goes like this, “I need you to help organize the office”. And that’s about all the instruction they get.

So, with the idea that this won’t happen overnight and it will take a few weeks for you to put together, let’s look at the previous example and see how we can make it more successful for you and the employee you are going to hire.

First up, a detailed explanation of the business and what you do. A brief overview of how you got started, who your clients are and why you are different. Second up, start to write down what you want them do and how you are doing it now. So for an office assistant you might start out with the following:

-          What time they should come in and leave

-          How do they answer the phone

-          How are they expected to file, organize and help you out

-          What are the problems that are happening now (they probably have a solution!)

-          What shouldn’t they do (give out pricing, answer event questions, etc)

-          What can they do without your permission (confirm appointments, accept payments, change contracts, etc)

 

Get the idea?

They really should have a list of responsibilities and know what they have to get done. It just takes time on your part before you hire them to think about all those tasks and get them written down. This will make it so much easier for your new hire.

And my one other piece of advice for you would be to listen. Listen to what the people you hire have to say. Many times, they will have a better way to do it then you are doing it. Let them try it out, see if it works, if it doesn’t, they learned for themselves and can start to see how to make their next decisions.

Delegating is hard. It takes a lot of power to not tell someone how to do it even as you are watching them do it the wrong way. But once they start to handle the little tasks well and they are learning, it will free you up to work on bigger and more important things for the company.

There comes a time in every business where the principle person needs to be worried about the growth of the company and not the little, everyday tasks that end up holding you back. Start today on the plan and outline for what a part-time helper could do for you.

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Networking

If you only do one thing to try and garner up some business this year, it needs to be networking! If you don’t do this, or don’t do it enough, you gotta get on it.

The biggest resource of qualified new leads is going to come from other professionals. Hands down. So you need to get out and see them, meet them, and talk to them. Many of us do not do this and we wonder why we aren’t growing!

As with everything else, it comes down to time. You have to want to make time for it and then do it. The only reason you don’t have time, is because you choose to not to. You are missing out on the best resource of new leads because YOU don’t think it is worth it. You are wrong.

We recently moved into a new market and within 6 months we knew who the key players were simply by going to several networking events and introducing ourselves. No fancy lines, no big marketing pieces, just me, a smile and interesting topics to talk about. That’s it.

You can do it as well, just don’t think you will get results over night. People like to do business with people they like. This means you have to put your time in. You have to commit to doing a few of them and not just one or two. You have to talk to new people and not just the ones you know. You have to follow up and make sure they know about you. You have to put the time in to know about them, to get them to want to care about you. It takes time, but so does everything else that turns out good.

So, what are you waiting for?

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Conferences

Each year, I try and get to 4-5 conventions, but not for the seminars. While they are a great perk, the people I meet there are so much more important to me. I am able to make connections with people all over the country. I am able learn about different things that people are doing on the west coast, while seeing great new trends from the south. We share ideas, we pick each other’s brain and we get the chance to just have some fun.

You should try and get to at least one convention a year. And don’t always make it one for your industry. Try and go to some different ones. Give some thought to the following:

-          Special Event

-          Catersource

-          LDI

-          Wedding MBA

-          Mobile Beat

When you go to these conventions, make sure you have some things in mind:

-          You have to go there to learn and meet people. So you need a plan. Don’t just show up and expect to get something out of it.

-          You have to go up and introduce yourself to people. Don’t expect people to come to you. Say hi to strangers and get involved. Don’t be shy.

-          Presenters can sometimes be bad. Sometimes they can be great. Most are mediocre .But you should try and take at least one thing out of the seminars you attend. Just one thing can change the way you do something and make the whole trip totally worth it!

-          Don’t party to hard. You are there for more important reasons. Get to bed early, wake up early and hang out in the hallways.

-          Attend the parties at night. It is a great place to continue the conversations you had during the day. It is also a better place to approach people.

-          Stay in the host hotel. Even though it may be more expensive, it will give you the best chance to meet the right people and be around the center of the conference.

-          Bring a voice recorder or notepad. You will need to write down names and companies, as well as notes from the seminars.

-          Bring plenty of business cards. You don’t know how many times people don’t have them.

-          Be prepared to spend money. It won’t be cheap, so be prepared to buy some drinks and /or some food.

Conventions can be so much fun, but they can also be a turnoff. People go to one of them, don’t get much out of it and then don’t go back. Try something different, have a plan and keep your mind open and you might be surprised at what you get out it!

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Love

And the last, and greatest of these, is love.

Look, you have to love what you do. You have to have a passion for it or else it will be something that just doesn’t do it for you. If you love it, it will be so much more fun. It will be exciting and fresh every day. You won’t get bored, you won’t get stale of the same thing. You will feel so much of the bad and so much of the good, that is for sure, but that is with everything you love.

All the faith and hope in the world will never make up for loss of love on a venture. But love alone can make up for loss of faith at times and a dwindling hope at others. Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.

Faith, hope and love-Find these three things and you should be good to go!

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Hope

So the second part of this blog series is probably the most important. Once you have the faith, you need to believe, you need to have hope. And this isn’t easy.

 

Almost everything (and everyone) that will happen to you will challenge this core belief. But it is up to you to keep the hope.

 

You see, if you don’t believe that you will succeed, no one will. No one has a crystal ball, and you certainly can’t predict the future. So hope - that your business venture, your new marketing plan or a risky new idea - is the only thing you have. But you do have some ways to put the odds in your favor that  hope isn’t all you need.

 

If you just cross your fingers and hope, chances are you will fail most of the time. Keep in mind, that does leave plenty of times to succeed. But why would you want plenty of times, I say, you want all the time! So you need to do your diligence.

 

You have to spend the time that it is going to take to put the odds in your favor. Do the research, make the plan, come up with good operations. Then and only then, put it into action. Once that action is in play, you have to have hope that it will be great! You are the best sales person in your company. Don’t let anybody else subdue that.

 

However, don’t let that hope blind you to the things that need to be changed along the way. Because you will need to make changes. Those changes could happen daily, weekly, who knows how many times you might have to change it up to get it right. But the whole time, you have to have the hope that the all is going in the right direction.

 

Keep the hope. Stay focused. And make sure to surround yourself around people that always on the hopeful side!

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Faith , Hope and Love

I think these three words can give most of us the simplest forms of direction, even if we don’t run our own business. I think if you asked most successful people all the ideals that made them who they were, those ideals would revert back to these three words. You would hear them say things like “hard work”, “dedication”, “delegation”, etc. Each of those actions is embedded in Faith, Hope and Love. So in the first of three blogs, let’s take a look at the first one. Faith.

 

Before you start anything, and I mean anything, getting up in the morning, going to work, cooking dinner, playing a sport, whatever it is, you have to have faith. But when it comes to working for yourself, it is almost as if you throw that right out the window and find every reason in the book to not have faith in yourself. Why? You need to have faith in yourself! It won’t be easy, but you won’t ever get anywhere if you don’t. And the faith has to be deep down.

 

When you went to school, you had faith you would get an education. When you moved out of your house, you had faith that you would make it. When you got your first job, you had faith that you would never get let go.  Then you got let go. When you have the faith in your idea, you can never let yourself go. But its hard, I know. Every year we grow and every year I have to have faith in myself. Each year we grow, having the faith gets tougher and tougher.

 

You have to learn how to trust your gut, see things before they happen and believe that the decisions you make are the right ones. Your faith is going to be the only reason you can give. Other people are going to ask you why and you may not be able to explain, but your faith in your dream will be all that you need.

 

Have faith in yourself, your ideas and your dreams. Let that faith be the driving force that guides you in your search for success.

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Maybe I can help

Let’s face it, business can always be better. You are always looking for the next “thing” that will give you the one up over your competition. Well maybe it isn’t a “thing”, maybe it’s you!

 

Maybe you need to go back to the beginning and start over on the basics. Build a little better foundation and get on the right track. A track that will lead to more serious inquires, better clients and more money. And I would love to help you get on that track.

 

In all the years I spent building my business, I realized one thing. I LOVE building a business. More importantly, I love sharing what I have learned with others and watching them succeed. And I want you to succeed too.

 

So, I will make  this short and quick. If change is something that scares you, but you know something has to give, then I don’t think a 10-15 minute phone call to find out what I am all about would hurt. I am interested to see where you are at now, where you want to be at in the future and how I might be able to help you achieve that.

 

Call me any time, I love to listen to dreams!

 

(215) 696-7573 or email at jason@scincorporated.com

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Showing you care

As many of you know, I was on tour with a few professionals on the west coast two weeks ago.  While I was there, I took some time to visit San Francisco and Nappa Valley.  And I am so glad I did!

It was a great time for me to recharge my batteries and take some time for myself. Especially right before we enter into our busy season.

I am from Philadelphia, so San Francisco was somewhat the same. Busy and touristy were the words of the trip. But the visuals were awesome. Such a great city for sights and shopping!

 

However, the service was nothing to write home about. Typical city service, no one really going out of their way to help you. Get you in, get you out. But seeing the amount of people that where there, you could see why. It was a fast paced 3 days.

 

A complete 360 degree change when we got to Nappa. EVERYONE wanted to help. Quiet, almost 99% less busy than the city and not a whole lot to do (except to drink wine).  But yet everyone we met with was so helpful, so nice and so interested in us.

 

One story stands out the most. We thought it would be neat to take a hot air balloon ride. I had never done this before, so I really wanted to knock this off the bucket list. Our balloonists name was Jayson. When we got to the take off sight, he was helping set up the balloon. Then he flew it. Then he narrated and let us know exactly where we were flying. Then he put us back on the ground safely. Then he drove us back to the main meeting sight and gave us some history on ballooning. Then he served us orange juice for the complimentary breakfast they had. Then he came back and continued to ask us if we were okay.

 

As we left he actually asked us if we were happy. Um…I said in a resounding voice “Hell yes!”

 

Here is a story of a small company that has 4 main competitors in the area. Everyone is battling for the same customer. The customer who is watching their wallet religiously.

 

And who really has to go for a hot air balloon ride in economically times like these?!?!

 

Sound like a familiar story? Sound just like your business?

 

I immediately took what I saw and found ways to implement it into my business. I thought to myself, here is a company that is doing everything right. No one is more important than anybody else. Everybody helps. How can I help implement this back into my company? How can you implement this into your daily activities? 

 

One mistake that we can make as we get bigger is that there is a specific individual for certain jobs. Now, I totally understand this naturally happens. Sales people can’t be in the warehouse and warehouse crew can’t be hiring people. But they can all do things to help the customer! Answer phones, greet guests, keep things clean and neat, and the list can go on and on.

 

Don’t take your role as just “your role”. In these economic times, your team has to be able to do more than just give the customer what is wants. It has to show the customer that it cares.

 

What can you improve on to show your customers you care?

 

If you are ever in Nappa and want to experience a first class company and see the sights from 2000 feet in the air, then please call my friends at www.balloonrides.com . Make sure you get the balloon that Jayson flies!

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Sales or Marketing

So I was talking to one of my consultant clients today and we started on the topic of sales and marketing. I have never been one to think that these two parts of the business should be the same. Marketing is what you have to do to get the people that you have to sell to. They both need to be seperate.

If you don't have a strong marketing program, you won't have anybody to sell to. How strong is your marketing program? It better be really strong! Your prospect has to find you through all the other services fighting for their attention. Make sure to get a good target market too. You can't be everything to everybody. As much as you may want to, telling people what you "don't do" is almost as good as telling people what you "do" do.

If you could pick your perfect client who would it be?

And here is a tip, don't put anything in your marketing program that says, "best" or "#1" or anything along those lines. Those statements are said all the time by EVERY single company. Keep your statements to things that are going to help prospects learn about you through facts and solid information.

Until next time...much success!

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