Booking a consultation is EXCITING! They are a potential client and you cannot help but imagine that you might be their wedding planner. I am always full of butterflies before I meet a potential client.
Here are some things to consider when planning your consultation:
1) Where to meet
If you do not have an office you should have a few go-to places that work for holding consultations. For me, a coffee shop works great based on the type of couples I work with. If you work with luxury wedding clients then Starbucks is probably not going to work. Think of places that reflect the type of couple you work with.
Wherever you choose to meet, ARRIVE EARLY to get a table. There is nothing more awkward than having to stand around and wait for a table to open up. I like to arrive at least 30 minutes early. It is also very nice to pick up the tab.
2) What to wear
What you wear should reflect your brand and the type of couple you work with. If you plan rustic barn weddings, don’t show up in a suit. Your appearance should align with your brand image.
Depending on where you are meeting, be aware that some high-end hotels actually have dress codes for their restaurants. So, if you are going to someplace new, it is always smart to check on attire requirements.
3) What to bring
I bring a list of questions that I ask all my couples, my iPad with my wedding planning portfolio on it, my calendar, and all the info they have sent me about their wedding.
In addition, I bring a folder for the couple to take home that has printouts of all of my wedding planning packages, a planning checklist, my business card, and my brochure. I also like to bring a small gift for the couple. If their wedding date is really far away, I buy a few wedding magazines (Martha Stewart and the local ones) and a small box of chocolates. If their wedding is coming up soon, I bring cupcakes or cookies from a local bakery or a local bottle of wine.
4) How to present your planning services
Consultations are your chance to sell them on your planning services and your value. You want to have a plan on how to present yourself so that you come across as a valuable person to their wedding.
As I mentioned above, I have a long list of questions (such as the consultation form from the Wedding Planner’s Toolbox) that I go through with the couple. The questions range from basic information to describing their perfect date. I felt silly asking them at first, but it really allows me to get to know them, make a connection with the couple, and determine the best way to sell my wedding services.
After I go through my questions, I then explain my services. I describe all the things they can expect by hiring me and then I confidently tell them my fees. I do not linger on cost though, I immediately launch into other topics. At the end of the conversation, I flat-out ask if they would like me to hold the date for them. Sometimes people hire me on the spot and sometimes they need more time to make a decision. I also use specific questions to help close the sale. If they need more time, I set up an appointment to call for a follow-up.
After I leave, I immediately send a handwritten note telling them what a pleasure it was to meet and I look forward to working with them on their wedding day.
Your consultation should give them a preview of the type of service and care they can expect if they hire you. So go the extra mile and really make them feel wonderful!
This is a guest post from Amber Peterson. Amber is the owner of Cheers Wedding & Event Planning in western Washington. She has a Masters Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and previously worked as a marketing consultant for wedding industry professionals. Amber is also the co-founder of the Skagit Wedding Society.
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