Most people are event planners at some point. They just do not get paid money to do it. People plan weddings, parties, and various celebrations without ever thinking of plunging into it as a career. The reality is that about the only event planner that many ever hear about is the wedding planner. If you are looking to begin booking events to plan for others, you may want to consider a few items first.
Do some smaller free events for friends and relatives before taking the plunge to advertise your services.
When restaurants are getting ready to open to the public, they have a special night a few days before the big opening. Employees are asked to invite their friends and families in for a meal that will be served by the new staff. Three reasons drive this special meal. First, it is a test for the restaurant hardware and staff to see what needs to be tweaked before the real customers arrive.
Second, if mistakes are made, family and friends are not likely to go out and say bad things about their experience, and they will probably return later to experience the real thing. Third, it is a good way to begin building word of mouth advertising for the new business that is relatively safe.
Use family and friend events to build your early planning portfolio with pictures and testimonials.
You need this same type of running start before launching your event planning business. These small events will give you the experience that you need to learn where your weaknesses are and correct them without creating a disaster. The events for family and friends can serve as early entries into your sales portfolio for new customers later. You will be able to establish links to vendors and other resources to make future events easier to plan and execute.
If these events go well, define what types of events that you will be willing to plan for others.
Starting with weddings and birthday parties may be a way to get your feet wet and still have enough to offer prospective clients to begin building your business. Prepare suggested guidelines for these events that people can choose from for their party or wedding. With simple modifications, these plans should allow you to cover a large variety of event options. By limiting the type of events, you can offer more flexibility to your customers.
Recruit reliable help that will help on event days.
Since most of your business will come with a month or more notice, you should be able to find people who can be available to work only on event days. Hire about twice as many as you need. This will almost always guarantee that you will have someone available. It will also give you the ability to occasionally book two events on the same day during busy periods. By using these workers only on event days, it will keep your labor cost low at the beginning when revenues are also low.
Develop good techniques for preserving and storing materials used in your events.
Things like mirrors, glass beads, candy dishes, table cloths, and may other items can be recycled from one event to another if they are maintained in good condition. Have high quality storage boxes or containers is an important part of keeping your supplies ready for use. Along with the storage and preserving, you will want to keep a careful inventory of what you have and where it is. This one process can save you thousands of dollars per year and possibly per event.
Learn how to charge for your services.
If people could do this for themselves, they would not need you. Because of this, you should not feel guilty about asking for reasonable sums of money to provide your services. Part of learning how to charge involves learning how long it takes to accomplish the tasks involved in producing a quality event.
Do not forget to charge for labor costs that you will have to pay.
If you know that you will need 5 people for 5 hours at $10 per hour, do not charge $200 for their services when it will cost you $250. Charge $400 so that you have room in case the event takes a little longer than anticipated. By charging more upfront, you will not have to come back to your customer and ask for more money. Do not forget to include your part of the tax burden in your per hour calculations.
Your customers want to know the entire event cost upfront.
People usually are not interested in open-ended service contracts that will be computed after the event based on hours worked. You need to know how much to charge so that you can charge by event and not by the hour. Extra items should be added to the top of your basic event plans. Even materials should be factored into the initial bid for the event as much as possible. Always build a profit into each price. Require customers to pay a deposit for the event immediately. The entire cost of the event should be paid prior to the event.
Hang out a shingle and advertise your business.
No one will want your services unless you let them know it is available. Eventually, you have to cross the line from considering going into business and just do it. There is always a risk at this point, but no business starts without a little risk. Start advertising in a small way and keep increasing your ads until business starts to come in at the expected rate. This may cost you somewhat more than your revenues during the first couple of months of business. Watch your cash flow during this period so that you can stay solvent. You may need to keep your day job until business is booming.
Get more education if you think you need it.
You can learn about event planning in three ways. Obviously, just doing it is one sure way to learn how to make it happen. However, trial and error can be a dangerous business model. Colleges offer degrees in event planning and corporate event planning. Even if you choose not to pursue a degree, some courses may be beneficial before opening for business.
Finally, find people in nearby cities that will let you interview them about the business. As long as you are not viewed as competition, they will probably share their knowledge with you. This last method is a great way to learn about other vendors and resources, as well as, how to price your services. They may even tell you some ideas for advertising.