Love is in the air! Is your banquet center, outdoor garden, or party rental supply company feeling the pressure with a calendar full of springtime weddings? Couples read magazine articles and online reviews, talk to friends and family, and research numerous possible wedding and reception venues before selecting the location that they will say “I do.” When they choose your location, you want to make sure to say thanks by giving them a day to remember for all the right reasons! As we move into the official wedding season of 2012, make sure you are prepared to make every bride you work for 100% satisfied!
- Know your facility and its stats. How many people does your venue comfortably fit? Is your staff trained and fully capable of serving the meal in the style the couple wants? Do you have a prepared menu, list of rental items or A/V equipment, and a seating chart diagram to hand out? What services are your staff truly prepared to offer, e.g., valet, delivery and set-up, or a coat check? If your customer is counting on an outdoor wedding, but the weather forecast suggests otherwise, do you have a backup plan? You don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver, so know who you are and exactly what you can offer.
- Open dates matter. While booking up quickly means a guaranteed revenue stream for you, try to arrange your venue to accommodate as many events as possible. Can you offer Friday night specials, or promote an evening wedding on dates that have an afternoon affair? Are there two separate spaces that can be used as different venues to host simultaneous events? If you are a party rental company, do you have enough staff to do deliveries and pick-ups of multiple events in the same day, and do you have someone in logistics to coordinate the delivery routes/trucks? Be open and flexible, and creatively come up with solutions to serve as many customers as possible without turning down too many customers due to date restrictions.
- Attract brides with extraordinary measures. If you have a lot of local competition, you have to know what your brides want, so you exceed their expectations and have a one up over your competitors. For example, offering Chiavari chairs as a preferred seating will eliminate the hassle for brides who were going to rent their wedding chairs from a third party and will be an advantage in your venue’s favor while brides narrow down their search. Set up relationships with a DJ, photographer, videographer, florist and bakery, so the bride feels like she is getting a complete wedding planner one-stop-shop when she chooses you. Keep some above average decor items, such as centerpieces, swags, or aisle runners on hand, which will help set your venue apart from the rest. Embrace your own unique character and fill a niche that works best for you; don’t be afraid to be a little out of the ordinary. In other words, give them something to talk about – and be that one venue or party rental company that has that something special they are looking for!
- Train your staff to smile. The term ‘bridezilla’ wasn’t created just for fun. Brides are going through one of the most stressful times of their life, planning the biggest party they will probably ever throw, and committing to share their entire future with one partner. They are hosting their friends and their most critical family members, plus their brand new in-laws. They expect everything to be perfect, and they can be very demanding. By showing them exceptional customer service, you keep them happy – which in turns, keeps your staff happy, too.
- Stock up on essentials. Check your folding chairs, food service and banquet tables, and your linen supply. Is everything in top notch shape? Do you need any replacements or repairs? Would you like to add cocktail tables or Chiavari chairs to your inventory? What about any A/V equipment – new microphones, speakers, or screens? Do a checklist and supply count, and make sure you have everything on hand that you will need to survive the wedding season.
- Be social. Ask your satisfied customers to post recommendations on your Facebook page or to give testimony to share on your Web site. Provide a photo gallery online with a “pin it” button that makes it easy for prospective brides to save and share your company’s URL. Ask permission to tweet about the great events you helped coordinate, and wish your customers a life full of happy via their social networks, too. Don’t forget a hand written thank you note to your customers thanking them for choosing your location. Being social will make you look like the friendly place in town to go for business, and it will help you form relationships with your customers which will garner repeat or referred business.
With wedding season in full bloom, you want to make sure you are fully prepared to cater to all your customers’ needs. Follow these six steps for ensured success, and have a blissful summer full of love…and first dances!