The best part of my job is getting to meet people from our community in person. And, last summer, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Nicole during my trip to Raleigh for the Creative at Heart Conference. So today, I am very excited to introduce you all to her! Read on to learn about how she got started in the wedding industry, how she uses Aisle Planner, and what she is most excited about in the future!
Tell us about your path to becoming a wedding professional.
I started my career in the industry at The Sanderling Resort & Spa in the Northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was a Sales Manager for the wedding market where I learned a lot about brides and the process of booking weddings at a venue. Then when my husband and I moved back home to Sanford, NC (close to Raleigh, NC) I started working for Marriott as a Catering Manager and then Senior Sales Manager. After being with the company for 8 years, I decided to look for something different.
Someone told me about the wedding planning certification course through The Bridal Society, so I decided to give it a try. After the weekend conference, I was so fired up about taking the next step in my career! Less than a year later, I decided I was ready to take the jump in faith and leave my career with Marriott to start my business. I hit the ground running in August of 2014 and started Vision Events with not a single wedding booked for 2015! I was scared and had no clue what to do other than to fall back on my sales skills. I met with lots of venues and vendors in the industry and started building relationships for referrals. And, I ended 2015 with 12 events!
In 2016, I added on my Lead Planner, Jennifer DiTuro (who is also certified through The Bridal Society) to the team. She reached out to me and said she wanted to become a wedding planner and I said “good, because I need help.” So she shadowed me all of 2016 to learn everything about the weddings, clients, & vendors. We completed 16 events in 2016; Jenn started taking on her own weddings under Vision Events later that year. In 2017, we completed 31 events together! I am very excited for the future and looking forward to growing my business!
What did it take to build your business/brand?
Building a business is not easy. It’s a lot of trial and error. I had to figure out what worked for me and what didn’t. What advertising was smart for me and what wasn’t. I had to network to get my name out there and to show people I had the skills and drive to make these events happen. For me, my brand is service with excellence. I come from hospitality so I want our clients and vendors to know, we are going to serve with excellence in all areas.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being a business owner?
I learned not to listen to everyone’s advice and to follow your heart. It’s so hard to do and it’s a daily struggle. But, I had to learn to do what is best for me. I can’t compare my business to other ones. I have to give what I have and ideal clients love us for what we offer.
You got your certification from The Bridal Society. How has attending the conference impacted your business or process?
The Bridal Society is the best decision I made in starting my business. The support from Laurie and the others in the TBS Family give is paramount. I love how we can post our questions, concerns, & dilemmas in the Member Forum and there are planners across the nation that will weigh in to help you! We share ideas, we get praises & support for our work, and we ask questions about our business. Someone out there has either been through it or has a different perspective on how to get through it. Our clients know we are supported by an organization that believes in us! It’s the best resource I have!
Tell us about your process.
My process with Vision Events is pretty simple but thorough. When a client reaches out to us and is interested in our services I contact them immediately via email and ask a few questions to get us started to further qualify the lead. If I feel they are a good fit for our company and worth moving to the next step, I will ask if we can set up a time to meet or a phone call to further discuss their event. At that point we dig deeper into all of their event details with a questionnaire (that we got from The Bridal Society) and I use it to gain more knowledge about how our services will fit their event.
Once I feel this is a client we want to bring on, I send them pricing information in our packages and suggest which package would work the best based on our discussion; sometimes I need to customize a package based on their needs. After a proposal is approved, and the client is booked, I set up a meeting to go over our planning process. I feel this is what sets us apart. I have several resources that I use and I introduce all of them so they know how we will work moving forward. (Aisle Planner is one of them!) I give them a tour and have a discussion about how we will be using Aisle Planner together. I want our clients to understand our process moving forward so they feel comfortable in our planning as well as confident on what will be the next steps.
How do you use Aisle Planner to collaborate on weddings and events?
I use Aisle Planner for all my clients! But, the service they book determines how involved they are with Aisle Planner. For our month-of clients, they get introduced to Aisle Planner and can use it how they choose since it still is included with their package. (I show them how to use it and they go from there.) With our full service clients, we manage it for them and only invite them when needed.
I use the Budget, Contacts, Guest, Leads, & Invoice sections the most. I like the leads section as this is connected to my website. So, when someone inquiries, it goes straight into Aisle Planner and I can track it and write notes about the lead. The Invoice tools is also huge for me – I use this to invoice all our clients! The Guest tab is an awesome tracker for the guest list too! You can track meals, addresses, whether they are coming to ceremony or reception or other events you have planned for the weekend. And, I love how it gives you a snapshot of the RSVP count. Another great feature is the reports I can pull from the Guest List. I use this a lot when communicating to the client for invitations, RSVP tracker, & meal counts to the caterer. Super helpful resource!
Anything you are particularly excited about working on this year?
I am excited about visiting some new venues this year and building some new relationships! I am looking to expand my business into corporate events so I am excited about getting that started!
Want to see more from Nicole and the Vision Events team? Visit her website visioneventsnc.com!