As we focus on generosity throughout the month of November, we wanted to touch on the idea of extending generosity to your clients while still remaining firm. As planners, this can be such a tough balance to strike—wanting to go above and beyond for our clients is a natural part of the job, but oftentimes we go the extra mile for our couples at our own expense (lost hours, pro-bono work, less time with our families, last-minute stresses, etc.). Today, then, we’re breaking down some common client issues you probably come across (more often than you’d like to) and our advice for extending generosity in these situations while still keeping our own sanity.
Common Client Challenges
Scope creep: This can be especially problematic with month-of or day-of clients. How should you react when your month-of client is way behind in the planning process when they get to you and are asking you (either literally or not) to pick up the slack? We recommend extending generosity by offering them a-la-carte hours to complete the tasks. Still, remain firm (and help save your sanity) by being clear about the fact that you are not a magician—if they haven’t yet booked a photographer, for example, make it clear that you might not be able to get that done for them.
The unthankful: As planners, we so often go above and beyond for our clients and, sometimes, they have no idea the hoops we had to jump through to actually pull something off. This can lead to instances where you definitely feel as though you deserve an enthusiastic thank you but the client fails to extend one. In these situations, there’s unfortunately not a lot you can do. Remember that, as much as you want your clients to feel like your friends, that’s not always the case. Sometimes your clients’ emotional attachment to you as a planner is not much greater than their attachment to any other service provider.
Things to Consider before Striking Compromises
The Client: First and foremost, consider the client and their propensity for acting a certain way. If they’re asking for a big last-minute change, but have otherwise been an absolute dream to work with, you may want to consider cutting them some slack and extending more generosity than you normally might. If, on the other hand, this is a regular behavior for them and is starting to affect your hours (and your sanity), you need to draw the line and remain firm, while still remaining gracious.
The Pay: Ask yourself how much you’re getting paid for this. If you add up all of the hours you are working by taking on extra tasks, last-minute requests, unexpected changes, etc., how much does that end up diluting what you thought was your hourly rate? You are likely worth more than you are charging—especially when you consider client requests that require you to work more than you’d originally planned on. It may be worth looking at a restructuring of pay/hourly rate before you take on more clients next season at your diluted rate.
The Timing: You know that your couples are going to want/need you more during that last “sprint” before the wedding. So, consider “lifting” your usual boundaries or being more available in order to save your own sanity. This will help to alleviate some stress from that constant internal battle you’re fighting regarding how readily available and willing to take on ridiculous requests you should be versus when you have to tell your clients (in nicer words) that enough is enough.
Overall, so much of striking the right compromise for both you and your client comes down to a combination of using your intuition and taking into consideration a number of factors. Remember, extending generosity is great, but not if it’s at the expense of your own sanity. Ask yourself how far you’re willing to go for clients and what kinds of precedents you want to set for future asks/requests. As planners, we are professionals—we are not magicians nor are we miracle workers (though it can sometimes feel that way). We should hold our clients to the same standards other professionals would hold theirs to, while still offering a little wiggle room where we can afford to give it (because we’re just that awesome).