Thursday, April 15, 2010

There's a lot to be said for follow-up.

The bridal industry is fierce. When I started the wedding planning process it quickly became evident that this $90+ billion industry is not easy to navigate. It takes time, research, internet savvy and the ability to detach yourself from your emotions and make logical decisions. I've been shocked by sticker prices and frustrated as I attempt to seek out deals and true quality in an overwhelming marketplace. It seems that everyone who knows how to point and shoot a camera considers themselves a wedding photographer, anyone who has ever been to a wedding, a planner, and anyone who can bake a cake from scratch, capable of 6 tiers and elaborate icing. I've found that true quality and experience is usually expensive, which can be frustrating for a bride on a budget. In a desperate attempt to maintain my high standards within a modest budget, I've turned to vendors trying to break into the business for things like photography, flowers and invitation design. These talented people are often willing to cut deals and go the extra mile to make you happy and add another wedding to their portfolio or recommendation list. If you fall into the "breaking into the biz" category, listen up! This advice is for you.

Of the many vendors I have dealt with in the past few months, there has been one huge difference between them: those that follow-up in a timely, friendly manner and those that do not.

I am writing about this in the hope that some of you will take it to heart (should you read my little blog!). Your ability to respond to email, voicemail, facebook messages, etc. quickly and effectively is key to winning me over as a customer. I am planning one of the most important events of my life, and whether or not I am a raging bridezilla or a laid-back planner, I want to know that you are reachable, that I am a priority and you will listen to what I say.

If I contact you for a quote or information, I want to hear back in a timely manner.
I am a professional. I work in an office where phone calls are returned by my colleagues in a quick, professional manner, especially if there's a potential for profit. I expect the same from you. I am baffled by vendors who take weeks to respond to emails. If you don't check your email account daily, don't list it. And you SHOULD check your email account daily.

Whether or not there is a question to be answered, an acknowledgment that you received my email and appreciate my business is required. If I say that yes, I want to hire you but I am waiting on exact dates, a simple THANK YOU and some evidence of excitement to be working for me on my wedding would be nice. Yes, I need to get back to you on dates, but it's much less likely that I will if I don't have any indication from you that our wedding is important.

If I meet with you, follow up with an email or phone call.
I am actually shocked by the number of times this has NOT happened in the past 3 months, with both established and newer vendors. After I have an initial visit with you to discuss pricing, availability and vision, I expect a follow-up phone call or email within a few days. This can be thanking me for my time, checking if I have any questions, asking what my thoughts are or if there's anything else I need to make my decision. It's not hard and it's a basic sales technique that let's me know my business is important. Don't be pushy, but be attentive.

It's not complicated. Good communication is a transferable skill and any future job, or bride, or spouse for that matter, will appreciate it.And when you do it well, it will win your customers. I am much more likely to hire the person who has called me back within hours of my request over the on who takes days, even if it means coughing up extra money. The stress of waiting and wondering is not worth it, not on my wedding day and probably not ever.


Cupcake Wedding said...

agreed. we found the perfect caterer and then she fell off the earth.

sm said...

Hey I hope your wedding is going to become awesome!

Maybe you´ll write an article after your marrige, I would definetly appreciate that to learn from you!

I´m following now via twitter! Hope you´ll follow my blog, too:

Brett said...

Love it - very true. It's amazing how many weddings I've booked myself, simply because I've made the choice to be a consistent communicator. I'd hope it's also due to my photographs too - but communication IS key. Great job - love your blog too. :)