If you’re at the top of your game, is there anywhere else to go? Yes! Here’s how to continue to grow.
When your business is new and fresh, there is nowhere to go but up. The methods may not be clear, but you’re bound to want more clients and more income—the two most common goals of developing business. What happens, though, when you have both a steady stream of clients and the industry’s highest prices? How do you grow when you are at the top of the game, and you think you have no place to go?
Follow the Signs
Often asked by wedding planners for tips on when to grow their businesses, celebrity planner, designer, author, speaker, and branding guru David Tutera notes that it’s difficult to generalize because “no one is ever in the same place.” However, he suggests that business owners looking to grow “take time and master their expertise, their craft, and their connections.” When they do so, says Tutera, “the timing will naturally present itself.”
Some indicators that a business needs to evolve, he says, are “when the work or clients begin flooding in without you needing to go out and look for them,” and, “when your workload becomes more than you can handle on your own.” If more events and more staff aren’t the answer, though, there are more definitions of growth to explore.
Develop an Upselling Structure
A secret of successful businesses, one that lends itself especially well to events, is to evaluate what your clients currently buy from others, and find a way to fulfill their need in-house as an added convenience. As Igal Sapir of 100 Candles says, “One great way to increase your bottom line without expanding your team is to work in an upselling structure. Connect with wholesalers that offer products you’d like to sell at a competitive price, then work those products into your business as package upgrades. You’ll start seeing a return before you know it!”
Sapir warns that you should not view upselling as “nickel and diming,” rather, understand that “it’s actually a mutually beneficial way to meet your clients’ needs.” Sapir says choosing something commonly used in all weddings, “such as candles or linens. Your clients will be thrilled to check those extra to-do items off of their list.”
Diversify as Only You Can
Amy Green of Where Will They Stay? co-founded an event planning business a decade ago, and the first few years were smooth sailing with predictable growth. The financial collapse of 2008 required a hard look at the business and yielded many important lessons. “One of the significant lessons we learned was the importance of diversification,” she says. Among the company’s goals was to create a variety of sales streams.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” says Green. “From customizing the perfect seating card arrangement tools, to putting together the ultimate day-of bridal kit, each of us has created new products and services to use in our day-to-day businesses.”
Setting up an e-commerce site or Etsy page is one way to market these custom tools to other professionals and test market them as potential sources of revenue; even better if the new item or service parallels a favorite part of your business. After years of booking hotel rooms for clients and friends, Green recognized a need in the industry and launched Where Will They Stay?, a custom hotel room block procurement service that helps planners secure accommodations for their events.
Think about your own business. “Is there something you are currently doing that can benefit a new demographic or industry? If so, consider diversifying into a whole new line of service!” she says.
Transform Your Business
Kevin Dennis, longtime owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a lighting, drapery, and entertainment company, began his speaking career at the local and national level and saw a need for education in the industry. He attributes his professional growth to involvement in these kinds of experiences. “I am confident that much of our business’ success over the years can be attributed to our continuing education,” he says. Not only has he applied what he learned to his own business, but his involvement as an educator has opened up opportunities and increased his stature and credibility among industry leaders. He recently took over the reins of WeddingIQ, which he plans to develop into the “top wedding business information ‘hub’ for the industry.”
Reach New Levels
When you reach new heights in the industry, it can be natural to feel like there is nowhere else to go. In reality, this perceived limitation is just another roadblock like the many that have been overcome before. “In any business, there may be road bumps here and there, and as a business owner, you always have to be prepared in the back of your mind for anything to go wrong, and be as capable as you can mentally and physically to stay calm and instantly react with a solution of how to overcome it in the best possible way,” says Tutera.
Overcome it by expanding the breadth of your reach and becoming the go-to source on how to achieve your level of success for other aspiring professionals. Your recognition among the industry elite can only expand your opportunities in ways you may never have considered. Recognizing this and applying continued discipline to your quest to develop, will practically guarantee you a new level of success. WPM
Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting, Richmond, Va.