I’m finally getting back in the swing of things after a few weeks of non-stop events and travel that started at the top of April. It’s nice to be back in Brooklyn and have a rare wedding industry lull during the start of summer. It’s particularly enjoyable after winding things down at Engage! in Beaver Creek Colorado, where I was honored to have spoken about managing challenging clients.
If you’ve never been to an Engage!, I will tell you what Marcy Blum told me, which is “Save your pennies and go.” There have been some equally awesome and thorough recaps of our latest (and in my opinion) greatest Engage!, but speaking in generalizations, the main power of Engage! is that you are surrounded by other motivated creative professionals in an intimate and fun environment where everyone is focused on the same thing: being better. Some of the content is inspiring, some practically useful and some simply fun, but the real magic happens in the conversations out of the session rooms and sharing of ideas with not only your peers, but professionals you admire. Learning is happening everywhere and it’s truly rejuvenating.
In fact, learning happens even from the stage, as I had a lightbulb moment while I was giving my breakout session talk during the Q & A. During my talk about different types of challenging clients, one theme that emerged was the fact that a lot of the time these relationships run off the rails because we (the professionals) don’t fully take charge of client relationships. We don’t always appreciate (and sometimes don’t sell) what our true value in the process is: we actually DO know better and if the client didn’t want someone how knew better they likely wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. I proposed a radical idea, which I will share with you here:
Delivering excellent customer service and being a doormat are not the same things. In fact, giving into your clients’ every whim is a passive aggressive way of doing a bad job.
Being in charge can come with big responsibilities: making judgement calls, deciding when no one else will, standing by recommendations, potentially disagreeing with the client’s desires. I was surprised and not surprised by some of the apprehension in the room about suffering the consequences of taking charge: being blamed, avoiding momentary conflict or being temporarily disliked being chief amongst them. But I propose that when we don’t take charge you’re being blamed anyway- for the client feeling out of control.
Sell your services like the expert that you are and direct the process like the expert that you are. After all, your clients came to you seeking out that expertise to steward their day to awesomeness!
*** If all of this is getting you jazzed about working on your business and you can’t wait until the next Engage to get your juices flowing, join us at the Be Sage Conference this August 3-5 in Chicago. A tactically bent gathering, the Sage Wedding Pros have organized 3 days packed with practical workshops and talks dealing with the things we ALL think about like expanding revenue sources, retirement and media relations. Mayra and I will be taking the stage to talk about starting our second brand, the pros and cons of partnership and more. Hope you can join us!!*****