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Tips on handling clients and their budget

Tips on handling Clients + Their Budgets

tips handling your clients budget

One thing I see a lot of planners (especially those just starting out), struggling with is: BUDGETS.

One of the most important jobs of a planner is keeping their wonderful client on budget.

Now let’s get real. REALLY REAL.

Clients and prospective clients sometimes are totally unrealistic when it comes to their wedding and their budget. Most have visions of a wedding that would cost around a million bucks and then say “Oh, my budget is $20,000.” I know you just want to yell, “What in the Pickle?” ( my son says this all the time… it stuck.)

I would even say most of the time when I have sat down with a client, their budget is different than their expectation of their wedding. I am more shocked when I get a client whose budget is higher than the type of wedding they want.

{Once I had a bride that said she wanted a 30 person wedding but in a nice place. Then she told me she had 80 grand to spend. I just about fell out of my chair. I am more used to: “ I have 300 people and 8 grand.” That was a good day!}

The other thing new planners can often struggle with is whether or not to book certain clients. When you have a brand new baby business any booking seems like a good idea, but the idea of taking more than your worth to fit a client’s wedding budget makes you feel a bit icky inside. As a planner, you already have this need to help people, its true.
I once took a wedding for only $600 planning fee just b/c I was a “newbie”. Though I don’t regret it at least from the experience under my belt, I totally sold myself short. I was getting paid pennies for the amount of work I did. LEARN from my experience.

estimated budget worksheet

 

So what do you do when someone wants to hire you but their budget doesn’t allow for it?

What do you do if a client has these “champagne tastes on a beer budget”? Do you dash their dreams away?

Should you have minimum wedding budgets you work with?

Can you ask what a budget of a prospective client is?

Here are some tips on how to handle your clients and their budget:

 

Workflow:

 

Before Meeting with Prospective Clients

  • It is your duty a planner to understand budgets, costs of weddings, and the break down of budget items. Know your area, where an average wedding cost would fall, what vendors charge for services or rentals, etc.

 

  • Know your worth as a planner. Make sure you have limits on what you offer, pricing of your packages you offer, what type of discounts are extended to family and friends, how many hours you put into your packages, what budgets you work within, and what types of clients are good fits for you.

 

  • Wedding Planners who have been in the industry longer may implement minimum budgets they work within. Make sure your level of experience coincides with your budget constraints for clients.

 

Initial Meeting of Potential Client

  • Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective clients budget. They do not have to divulge if they don’t feel comfortable of course but explaining to them that it would be your job to keep them within their numbers. Let them know that you wouldn’t want to suggest a huge floral arrangement that would cost $500 and their budget allows for $100 or vice versa. It helps streamline the process.

 

  • If a client does not have a budget number in mind, let them know average costs of a wedding in that area, or get more details of the types of things they like in relation to vendors, venues, and overall vision for the wedding. Then you can make them an estimated budget based on their ideas. ( This is typically something I do for Full Service Planning weddings only)

 

  • Bring out your contracts + packages and show them what you offer, go over the details of each and see what package fits their budget. You can also suggest packages based on their wedding.

 

  • If a Bride tells you about a wedding that sounds like a million bucks, it probably is. Gently let them know the average prices of things they want. Have suggestions to help save them money, for instance, suggest a violin duo instead of the 6 piece ceremony band. Most of the time, a client has never been married or even looked into wedding costs. They are probably naive to the wedding industry and the costs associated. Let them know they have made the first great decision by meeting with planners, as they can sometimes help couples save in a lot of areas with their knowledge and expertise.

 

  • If a potential bride tells you they only have X amount of dollars to spend on the planner and it is not the same as your pricing: You can (depending on your business model) offer a personalized package ( which I really don’t recommend but each business model is different.) OR let the client know that unfortunately, that falls below your minimum for wedding planning. Offer names of other wedding planners in the area that may be able to help. This is a tough situation especially in a meeting but honesty is key.

After Meeting with Client

  • Always follow up with an email to the prospective client.

 

  • For those interested in my Full-service packages, I will follow up with an email as well as a quick estimated budget based on their venue choice ( if they have one), budget numbers, and the number of guests invited.

After Booking New Client

  • Make sure budget numbers are discussed in depth with the client. I always make sure I know the ends + outs of their feelings toward the budget. How strict are they? Are they more lenient? Do they have parents helping or is the couple paying? Break down their budget on how much they are able and willing to spend in each category. Give them guidance, as most do not know where to allocate their money.

 

  • Keep client on track by regularly updating budget with what they have spent, deposits, due dates, and final payments.

Do you have a great budget to plug in numbers? Download my trusty budget worksheet I use EVERY wedding! Click below!

 

estimated budget worksheet

 

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