We’ve spent October focusing on the idea of being brave and, before we dive into November, we’ve got one more act of courage for you: giving yourself a raise! As wedding planners, we often start our businesses by ourselves and have to rely solely on our own intuition and experience for so many important business decisions. Unfortunately, the learn-as-you-go approach that wedding planning sometimes requires can mean we eventually come to find out that our original pricing doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of work we’re putting in (hello, Saturday phone calls with frantic brides and Friday nights spent building stages and fixing floral chandeliers). But, knowing how (and when) to implement pricing changes can be a bit tricky. Today, then, we’re breaking down our top tips and tricks for giving yourself that raise you deserve, with your head held high and your client list in tact. Read on, and get ready to feel the comfort of finally having that (super cozy) financial cushion you’ve been working toward.
Do Your Research
When you’re working your you-know-what off and just barely getting by, any increase in income probably sounds like a good idea—but resist the urge to choose a number out of thin air. Do both internal and external research before you make a decision on what your increased pricing will look like. This means analyzing your business—annual profits and loss statements, short- and long-term business goals, monthly bills/debt versus monthly income, etc.—and analyzing other competing businesses in the area. What are others charging for the same services, and how does their quality of work compare to your own? In addition to your own local market, take some time to look at national trends as well—it’s always good to have a general idea of what businesses like yours are charging across the country. Remember, you want this raise to work for you for at least the next 1-2 years—so be sure it’s a number that helps you reach your business goals and one that won’t turn away too many potential clients.
Upgrade Your Business Materials
A great way to really reinforce that you are, indeed, worth the higher price is to upgrade your branding, collateral, website and/or social channels simultaneously with your pricing increase. You want all of your client-facing items/channels to reflect the quality of work clients can expect. Plus, increasing the quality of your materials will also help you feel as though you’re worth it and will help you find the confidence you need to present higher prices to new potential clients. (Nothing puts a little pep in a small business owner’s step like a new-and-improved website and fresh business cards, after all.) Think about things like proposal letters, contracts and pricing lists—if you’re using a simple Word Processor layout for these items, you may want to try upgrading their design and ensuring they’re branded with your company logo (hello, Aisle Planner Branding Center!), colors and typeface. Increased prices should mean increased quality across the board—so take some time to step up your branding and materials as you simultaneously step up those prices.
Choose a Strategic Time to Implement
Rather than implementing pricing changes in the middle of a random month, you’ll want to try and coincide your raise with a date that makes sense. The start of the calendar year or the start of the fiscal year are ideal for increased prices. Or, if you’ve missed either of those, start the new prices on the first day of an upcoming month. Starting your new prices on a nice, “even” date, makes invoicing (and explaining price increases when necessary) a little easier.
The “Compliment Sandwich” Approach
In public relations, when you deliver criticism or bad news, you always want to tack a compliment or positive news onto either end of the “negative.” This approach is called a “compliment sandwich,” and it helps to take the edge off of otherwise not-so-great information. Using this approach, we recommend always presenting your pricing as part of a package—rather that on its own. Start with a personalized “what to expect” letter that welcomes the potential client to your business and lets them know how much amazing work they’ll be getting from you (stunning portfolio images of past weddings you’ve designed can be great to include here as well). Then, include your pricing sheet. After your pricing sheet, attach a wrap-up, “Thanks for considering us and can’t wait to work with you!” letter. This way, potential clients aren’t just looking at a list of prices all on their own and, instead, are presented with a complete package that feels personal and exciting, and—most importantly—that clearly outlines just how much awesome-ness they can expect from you (and for a steal, at that!). As always, you want the entire package to be well designed and branded with your company logo and colors.
Overall, increasing your pricing can be a bit overwhelming—and the thought of losing potential clients who can’t afford you can be scary, to say the least. But as long as you do your research ahead of time and ensure the quality of your materials (and work) reflect the higher prices you’re charging, you’ll be on the road to financial freedom in no time. When all else fails, remind yourself that you are tasked with bringing the most important day in a person’s life to fruition (often at the cost of your own sanity and sleep). Wedding planning is no small task, and, as planners, our prices should always reflect that. Cheers, planners, to giving ourselves a (well deserved) raise!