We asked PW brides for their sincere tips to wedding professionals for how to best service and satisfy their bridal customers....here they are:
-My biggest piece of advice is: BE PROMPT with any and all responses.
- Time line: Please don't tell someone you are going to give them something by a certain date unless it's reasonable and you can do it. If there is something that comes up to prevent you from delivering on that date, please call and explain. We will understand! We know how busy and stressed you are!
-Don't jack up the prices just because it's a wedding. If something costs more because it's wedding-related, be able to explain what extra service, etc, the couple is getting that justifies the extra expense.
-I like when they smile and have a pleasant attitude.
-Treat each bride and wedding like it is important, regardless of how much the bride is spending.
-Do not treat it as a 'favor' when you customize a package- if you cannot do it, just be honest with the couple, treating it like a big deal is embarassing for them.
-If you cannot return a phone call or email in detail immediately, respond with a call/email saying "I have received your call/email, I understand it is important. I am in meetings/have a wedding/whatever today, and I will not be able to respond today." This way, the client knows she is not being ignored.
-Try not to be too pushy! I know when we went ring shopping that was my number one complaint. WE are the ones spending the money, and WE will choose accordingly and with our timeframe.
-Be professional, corteous, and prompt with communications. I'm surprised how some vendors never bother to reply to my email inquiries.
-I found it helpful if they have a blog that they keep updated, so I can see their most recent work and project. This is not just for the photographers, but some florists, MUA have one too and it's fun to see their work.
-Have patience... I may ask A LOT of questions. Please do not act like my questions are silly or I am wasting your time. And if you don't know the answer, just say "I don't know".
-Respond to communications as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Even if you have to say, "I don't know right now, but I will get back to you by next Thursday with that information."
-We want to understand what's happening so that we can plan more effectively. Basically, a bride is just an unexperienced event planner (often, though not always). Help us all you can to understand what's going on and you will have VERY satisfied customers.
I expect excellence from myself so when choosing a vendor to work with I'm passionate about what type of service they will provide.
- Service starts with a phone call or an e-mail ASAP
- Experience, and if there is none how can you guarantee your service will make my day easier?
- Get rid of your filters. Make sure that when you meet your client for the first time you meet them with no preconceived notions.
- Follow up.......... Follow up..... FOLLOW UP!
- Set timelines and stick to them if you can, they not only work for you but the client too
- Remember that this is a collaboration between you and the bride and that your service is offering her ease and satisfaction
-I would say LISTEN to what the couple wants rather than forcing them to go with what you think is best.
-And I agree with the others: be on time, and be prompt about responding, following up, etc.
-Communicate, even in the drone of planning it is nice to see/hear what you are up to. A blog would serve this purpose, but also updating on lower pricing, new products etc. Give me all forms of communication that you use (phone, e-mail, blog, facebook, etc.) so I can choose how to communicate with you. Sometimes getting phone calls during work is not the best method...e-mails serve as a written record of what was discussed.
-Be organized, responsive and prompt!! Being patient is also another key thing. I had TONS & TONS of questions and I am sure answering the same questions from different brides can get old.
-Treat every wedding as if it's important regardless of how much money the client is spending
-Also as the others said, being prompt in responding to phone calls and emails is very important
-Hmm and addressing one of my pet peeves - don't try to advertise yourself by being negative about the competition
-Give realistic timelines - don't say you can deliver something in 3 days, if it realistically takes 7.
-Don't down competitors!!! So many of the photographers we met downed the ones we've already met. It was quite annoying.
-Also, maybe limit the amount of weddings done per year? I think it would help vendors focus on their current clients, even if they had to increase their rates. My photographer told me in a span of 14 days, he did 4 e-pic shoots, 3 weddings, and 6 corporate shoots - no wonder it's taking me over a month to get my e-pics back!
-Communication is KEY - Be realistic with your response times. If you're unable to complete your project/product before a certain date/time say so. Also - if you have been contacted by a potential client but are unable to provide a response at that moment - simply respond with "I've received your message and am putting together the response. You should hear back within the next xx days."
-Don't take it personally - It's business. Your business. If a potential client has refused your services or opted to go elsewhere you should send them on their way on a friendly note - b/c who know's whats going to happen? They might not be able to use you because of xyz reasons but they may still recommend you to a family member or friend.
-Wow sounds like communication and responding is the biggest complaint for brides and vendors and I agree! Sometimes vendors act like they are doing their services for free! We are paying them! Remember your clients after you receive your deposit!
-I totally agree with Miss Em & misshammy. I didn't call back ANY vendor that treated me like 'another' bride. Although they might do this every week, *we* do not. It was very important for me to find vendors that value and respect us as a couple and have a true passion for what they do. Not ones who look at us as $ dollar signs $.
-I treat my bridal clients as individuals and I actually *CARE* about their day and what they want/need (I do makeup professionally) ....... and I absolutely expect the same!!
from a Destination Wedding perspective:
-conference calls: take notes so every time we speak you don't ask me the same quesitons!
- prompt communication: please return emails and phone calls in a timely matter. i understand i'm not your only bride, but i know your blackberry is glued to your hip, so a simple 'sorry, I'm at an event and will get back to you tomorrow' will do or put an out of office response!
- offering multiple vendors: for a dw, it's hard enough doing everything blind, some brides like me want more choices of vendors to pick from!
- help negotiate prices: everyone has this thought that dw's are supposed to be a little more cost effective ... so not the case! so help negotiate, i know you can especially with the economy being in the crapper! it will show you really care about your client not the commission! it will go a long way with your bride and she'll love you for it! even if it's just one thing!
-Be flexible...we know you have had many brides in the past...but if I'm a little different and would rather A instead of B...what's the big deal. I don't care that "that is not how you normally do it." That's how we would like it.
-Please stay on top of new trends...it should be part of your area of expertise. I would expect that you know that cupcakes are all the rage or photojournalistic style is gaining popularity. How do I know more about this than you do?
G-ive me new ideas!...I value your creativity too! If you have a new idea please share. It doesn't have to be the same old over and over...give us options and variety PLEASE!
I personally feel that there is NO reason why you should not acknowledge an email within 48 hours. And that is being generous. All it takes is, "I received your email and will get back to you with an answer by...."
- Patience----esp w/ multiple questions
- Prompt reply with emails or phone calls
- Postive attitude
- Honest and Clear (re: rates, service provided and etc..)
- Explain and review the contract to the client, prior to asking them to signing. (I've had a couple of issues, where hidden fees and penalties written in fine print. Even after we discussed the cancelation clause and etc... they never brought those up. If I hadnt read the contract, I would have locked myself to ridiculous penatly fees)
-Quick and prompt communication.
-Always be friendly when answering the phone, even shoot a little humor into the conversation.
-If you don't know the answer an easy "I don't know, but I will find out for you" works for me.
-I like a non pushy sales approach. Also, if you haven't heard from me in a few weeks, please don't call me to remind me we met.