It's Wedding Time! Better Price Yourself Accordingly!
By now, you should know this interview series is all about getting a hold of the best creatives I know and getting them to spill their best tips. Today, Jennifer Prince, owner of Hill City Bride, a wedding and idea blog based in Virginia, gives us her best tips for pricing your services. Her tips, combined with my own financial expertise, will set you on the right path. Remember they may not all apply to you/your business, so make sure to choose the ones that do. Let’s dive right in!
Brides get a ring slipped onto their finger, and all of the sudden, they are expected to plan the biggest - and most memorable - event of their entire life. It can be a lot of pressure for a newly engaged girl, but that is where you - the wedding professional - can step in and help out. Whether you are a new wedding planner or a seasoned florist, here are some basic thoughts on how to go about pricing your work.
1. Price yourself according to experience.
I know this may sound like a crazy idea, but with weddings, it takes some time to build your own portfolio and reputation, so start out by pricing yourself accordingly. Everyone needs to start somewhere! As a planner or photographer, you may want to work with friends and family to actually have work to showcase. This way, you can show your future clients what you are capable of. Also, be sure that the work you are showing on your site is actually your work, which is what your clients are expecting to see. If you don't have images of your own events, then partner with other wedding professionals to do a styled shoot, which could also lead to referrals if all goes well. In the wedding industry word-of-mouth is huge, whether it's from a former bride or a fellow wedding professional. As you build your portfolio, be sure to raise your prices up and be a little more selective about your clientele once you are out of the building-your-business phase (although we are all always building our businesses, aren't we?).
From a financial standpoint, I know it may not sound attractive to be more selective on your clientele, as you may feel like you’re turning potential clients away, however, it’s actually wiser if you’re looking to build a well-renown reputation for yourself. As you price yourself appropriately, you will attract the right clientele willing to value your services and pay for them.
2. Consider your area
I live in a lovely city (although growing up near Philly, I'd call it more of a town!) in Virginia, and our locale actually attracts brides from other areas due to how budget friendly our weddings are. So, you will want to check into what local wedding budgets are so you can come up with an area-friendly price to charge. A $20,000 wedding in my area would easily be double the price (or more!) in more metropolitan locations, so do consider where you are when pricing as you don't want to price yourself too high or too low, unless you are trying to book a certain number of weddings - more on this next.
Researching the local market to see what other’s prices are at, will ensure your prices are competitive. In addition, making sure they are not too low will give you more room to cover your expenses, in turn, leaving you with a greater profit.
3. Think about your desired workflow
I know of a few wedding vendors who raise up their prices a bit for two reasons - one, they don't want to do too many weddings and two, they like to work with a select type of clientele. A photographer who charges $2,000 may take on 30 weddings a year, whereas a photographer who charges $6,000 may do only 10 weddings per year - but both are bringing in $60,000. Also, play nice with your area vendors - don't undercut everyone and then raise your prices dramatically - we are all in this together. Remember, referrals are essential, so working together is a must as a single venue can't host every wedding every weekend - referrals are very big in the wedding industry, so using the "golden rule" is so helpful.
This is very important to keep in mind when working on goal setting. It’s important to consider your time, effort, expenses, and pricing. When looking to work with vendors, this is an expense your prices must compensate for. In addition, I couldn’t agree with the fact that vendors equal referrals, which equals more clients and more money.
4. Stick to your pricing!
Before I say this, let me say - I know of several professionals that take on clients who are in a hardship situation and discount their prices because they are good people and have heart, which is a great thing. A mother with cancer, a couple getting married quickly because the groom is in the military… do those things! They are good for the community, make you feel stellar and are wonderful all around. I'm not talking about those situations. You will (read - will, yes you will) have brides who want you to discount your prices - if you run a special or discount by 10% that's fine, BUT be sure to stick to your guns and not be a pushover. If a bride wants $8,000 worth of catering for $4,000, encourage her to look at other food options that are within her budget instead. You are the professional, and I know you can offer her great choices that will fit her budget and taste level. Unfortunately, some vendors have actually gone into the hole over some weddings, and that is not the point of being in business. Take things on a case by case basis, but also protect yourself so that you can stay in business.
As with the first tip above, it’s important to know that you are the professional, your level of expertise reflect that but also your prices. Sticking to your pricing is also important for your reputation. The occasional discount is okay but not all the time. Think of the best brand names around, Mercedes-Benz, Apple, Victoria's Secret, for instance, when have you seen them give constant discounts? It’s because they don’t give them, that when they do, people jump on it. Same applies here.
It's a wedding! When it comes down to it - to circle back to the beginning - it IS the biggest, most memorable day in the life of a couple, so be pleasant and also be CLEAR about your expectations. Have contracts to protect yourself and your couples, and also have a payment plan very clear up front. Weddings are expensive, and your service is just one piece of the puzzle. Don't be the vendor who is demanding payment at the reception (unless it was agreed upon beforehand), so talk about pricing, contracts, service level and payment in the beginning so that everyone is on the same page all the way through. Aid your couples (and their parents!) in making this the best experience of their lives - as it should be.
There’s got to be at least one tip from all these that you can grab and adapt to your business. If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer Prince check her out over at Hill City Bride.
Want to learn more about structuring your prices, book a free consultation to get started. Also, don’t forget to download your FREE Financial Checklist, your step-by-step guide to starting your business or just making sure everything’s in check!