By: Tracey Manailescu, Co-founder and Vice President of WPIC Inc.
Your vibe attracts your tribe, right? Not always.
Sometimes we miss the warning signs and sometimes we overlook them because we are just so excited about working with a certain couple, venue, budget or wedding team. Sometimes there are no signs at all until a third party enters the planning process. It could be a family member, or friend who changes the dynamics.
What can you do as a professional wedding planner when the contract is signed, the planning process has begun, and you are now getting all kinds of uncomfortable red flags?
Listen to their Concerns: Somehow, one of you or both of you, are not seeing eye to eye. Stay calm. Try to get to the route of the problem. Ask how you can help make the situation better for all of you. It might be simple misunderstanding that can easily be fixed with proper communication.
Have a Come to Jesus Talk: Sometimes all it takes is a face to face meeting to get things back on track. You are hired as the wedding professional and need to act as such. Perhaps you weren’t clear with your expectations in your previous meetings, and you need to set hours, expectations and rules of business from here on out. The best things would be to have this built into your welcome letter/package and give it to them after they sign the contract with you, so you can refer back to it at this time. (If you don’t have one, do it now for the next clients!)
Refer Back to Your Contract: Hopefully you have a contract that has been checked and approved by a lawyer in your province or state. This way any loopholes or missing information can be added and amended before a client signs on. This is a legally binding agreement between you and the couple (or whomever signed it) so both sides need to uphold what is agreed upon. If the client is not holding up their end of the requirements you can refer back to it, and quote it to ensure things move forward to keep everyone happy.
Firing a Client: You should always have an “Out” for the client and yourself in your contract when it is not working. Perhaps meetings are being scheduled without your knowledge, abusive behaviour is starting to show it’s ugly head, no shows for meetings and/or repeatedly showing up late, etc. Whatever it is, protect yourself and your business reputation.
Liability and E & O Insurance: Make sure you have it. Weddings are not all about beautiful decor and happy loving couples. This is your business and your livelihood, you need to run it as such. Things can and do go wrong. Protect yourself . At WPIC Inc. we have a great program in place with HUB International. Find a company that works for you and make sure it has Liability as well as E & O.
We like this description from Trusted Choice. “Wedding planners need customized professional liability insurance, or errors and omissions insurance. It protects you if a client claims that the services you provided (or failed to provide) were negligent and caused harm.
Simply put: Professional liability insurance covers mistakes, and everybody makes them. Clients can sue you because they are dissatisfied with your professional services whether or not the claim has merit. Some examples where professional liability insurance could come into play include reserving a venue for the wrong date, failing to correct mistakes on invitations or failing to secure vendors as promised.
Any one of these errors can cause emotional distress, embarrassment, aggravation and inconvenience for clients and their guests. You can be sued for this reason alone.”
Hopefully you won’t have to resort to any of the above, but if you do run into a situation that is making you uncomfortable, you do have options. As a business owner, you have rights and need to protect your well being and your company. Not all clients are good clients.