Let’s Look at the Numbers…

Back in April, NEAWP member and Past President of ISES Austin, Mary Baird-Wilcock, President of The Simplifiers, posted an enlightening blog entitled, “Uncover why weddings are so darn expensive?”  It was a treatise on why event planners charge for the service.

I think it was a call to action!

Let’s take an in-depth look!

Here is an excerpt of what Mary wrote:

“On average, our team logs about 40 hours of work the month prior to the wedding date, for our month-of clients.  Yes, 40 hours before you even walk down the aisle!  And then another (on average) 9 hours on-site the day-of is logged both by our Event Manager and our Event Assistant, the bare minimum we send out to our client events, depending on the size and scope of the wedding.

So, let’s do the math…

1 hour Initial client meeting, in-person consultation to discuss overall concepts and ideas for your wedding + reception, budget parameters, the size and complexity of the wedding + reception
1-2 hours (typically 25-30 emails, wow!) Unlimited vendor recommendations via email as requested for all event elements based on preferences express in the initial consultation, and in your budget (such as: catering, shuttles, decor, photo booth, activities, rentals, etc) – this service starts as soon as you sign on with The Simplifiers, no matter how far in advance!
10 hours Create a comprehensive day-of timeline + a complete Plan B rain plan
1 hour + plus travel time to/fro = 2 hours Conduct venue walk-thru of ceremony/reception space to grid out tables & layout
8 hours Conduct a venue site plan – outlining layout of venue, tables/chairs/ceremony and reception + a complete Plan B rain plan
4 hours Create a vendor payment worksheet, outlining all remaining balances due to each of your vendors and due dates, all on one handy dandy document
1 hour Wrap-up consultation four weeks prior to the wedding, to review event vendor contracts and finalize timing for every event taking place over the entire wedding weekend
1 hour Assistance obtaining a marriage license
4-6 hours Connecting with each of your vendors via phone, email and in-person meetings, confirming logistics and triple-checking all final details.
4-5 hours The back and forth emails with the client on all of the little details, such as event décor placement, tracking the weather for your weekend, confirming event signage details, securing last minute vendors, etc.
SUBTOTAL: 36-40 hours, pre-event coordination
DAY-OF EVENT COORDINATION, on your wedding day: This is your team overseeing and running it all, so you can enjoy your big AWESOME day!
9 hours Event Manager
9 hours Event Assistant
GRAND TOTAL: 54-58 hours, on average we spend on your kickass wedding

So, why do we charge what we do?

let’s take this discounted price of  $1595 for sake of example…

$1595.00 Discounted day-of coordination price
-$320.00 Minus what Uncle Sam takes out for taxes
= $1275.00 SUB-TOTAL, i.e. what’s leftover
-$1050.00 (a small percentage of the overall cost) Minus staff salaries (note, we are not moonlighting PT on the weekends…everyone is on the payroll, highly experienced and it shows…we are one of the top award-winning firms in Austin)
-$100.00 (a small percentage of the overall cost) Minus insurance (we carry a 2 million dollar general liability policy + 1 million worker’s compensation policy as a professional event planning firm)
-$75.00 (a small percentage of the overall cost) Minus website/marketing costs (how you learn about us)
-$30.00 (a small percentage of the overall cost) Minus education (our planners are leaders in the industry because they speak at and attend workshops, training sessions and conferences to be the best in their craft)
$20.00 TOTAL PROFIT (…I know, I’m shocked, too…)

(Does anyone else need a drink after reading all of this?  I know I do.)

First off, Thanks Mary for sharing your true numbers with us.  We all know you love spreadsheets, so, we can trust your data!

Around the same time Mary posted this blog a colleague of mine contacted me.  She was having a small, family only wedding with a seated dinner, followed by a champagne toast and cake for a larger crowd.  She charges ~$125.00 an hour for her professional public relations services.  For the wedding coordination she offered to pay $250 for a full laundry list of duties. (Never mind, the fact that you get what you pay for and she was ultimately dissatisfied with the service she received for $250 and never mind the person who did it felt abused and taken advantage of because throughout the day more “stuff” to do was thrown on top of her!  We all know the story!)

My point is no one questions a PR professional’s hourly charges!  So, why are we consistently called out for being too expensive for the services we offer?

I think, because we allow ourselves to be!

How many of  you reading this are certified through NECI?  How many of you attend an educational association meeting at least once a month?  How many of you maintain subscriptions to industry magazines in order to stay up to date on trends?  How many of you travel to at least one convention a year for continuing education and networking?  How many of you maintain websites, pinterest boards and other forms of social media?

Do any of you list any of those features about yourself on your marketing and sales collateral?  When you send a proposal to a client is your training and memberships highlighted for your potential clients?  Why not?

Even more importantly–when a potential client tells you, “I can get that from (Insert less expensive coordinator here) for just $500?”  How do you respond?  If you don’t nicely turn down the business then we need to have a talk!

Recently at Engage 12, Tara Gueard, award winning event producer, commented she turns away business every day.  She still gets nervous every time she does.  She still questions if she will be able to fill her quota for the next year.  She does it anyway.  Her clients have to be able to meet a minimum budget for her to agree it is worth her time.  Early on she recognized the opportunity costs of where she spent her time.

Each of us needs to do the same.  We need to sell ourselves as trained professionals.  We need to showcase ourselves.  After all, would you trust a your company’s public relations to someone who says,  “Well I did it myself!”

Need more discussion on this?  Leave a comment and check out Event Talk on Tuesday, July 17.



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