It’s time for a little review. Remember those people who hire you to plan events for them? That’s right, the customers, also known as your clients. They are the reason you are in business. So let’s make sure we are treating them properly, shall we?
You set the tone from day one by sharing clear and accurate information. When you create your proposal, make sure it’s specific and detailed. Be precise about what you are committing to provide, and make sure to follow through. Don’t overpromise on something you can’t deliver.
Take the time to review your proposal thoroughly with your client before he or she signs off on it. Answer all questions and clarify anything that may seem confusing. The more thorough you are up front, the more you will avoid misunderstandings down the road.
KNOW YOUR CLIENT’S TEAM
Obviously, there’s a wide range of possibilities here as far as the type of client you are dealing with, and how to manage the chain of communication. The important thing is to make sure you know who all the players are on your client’s team. This includes the final decision maker, the troubleshooting point person – usually a resident techie, and the support staff who facilitate all operations. Understanding the difference between the people with whom you will be collaborating, the ones who can offer assistance on a multitude of tasks and the ones to whom you are ultimately reporting is critical.
We all know that planning an event is a fluid process. Some have used the phrase, “controlled chaos.” Regardless of how you choose to describe our lovely industry, things often change over the course of planning and producing an event. How you manage these changes and communicate about them with your client can make or break your working relationship.
Perhaps one of your vendors is no longer available, or your supplier has run out of stock on key items you need. It’s time for a contingency plan. Any time something changes in your production plan, you’ll need to assess how much of this to share with your client.
For example, if the box truss you ordered is not available from your usual supplier, as long as you can obtain it in time for load-in from another source, you don’t need to bother your client with the details. You may even be able to get away with substituting a different type of truss, depending on its intended usage and the overall set-up of your venue. However, if you simply can’t obtain the supplies you need, and this entails a fundamental change in the technical set-up of your event, then you and your client may have to work together to brainstorm a solution.
THE WINDS OF FORTUNE
Sometimes they blow in your favor, and sometimes they don’t. When things go wrong at your event, you have a marvelous opportunity to bond with your client as you navigate the adversity together. Perhaps inclement weather rolls in at the last minute. Your keynote speaker’s flight has been delayed and attendance is down. Your contingency plan should always include a way to work around obstacles with good humor, and refocus on the positive aspects of your situation. Maybe less people attend, but that leaves more opportunity to facilitate some personal introductions between key attendees.
There is always a bright side to any situation. Your job, in addition to managing the million and one details that go into creating every event, is to solve problems as quickly as possible (and with a minimum amount of bloodshed), and make sure you direct your client's focus to what is working properly and going well. It doesn’t hurt to be quick on your feet and maintain your sense of humor, especially if you are forced to put out unexpected fires. Remember, don’t panic. You’ve got this.