Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ask Rashana: Do You Ever Turn Down Business?

Dear Rashana,
I'm an up-and-coming videographer slowly breaking into the wedding industry.  Right now, in addition to acquiring clients, I've been focusing on setting up a proper and fair business model through market research and networking.  But one issue I'm still a little wary of is if it's ever OK to turn down a potential client's business?  I read in your interview on the Think Splendid blog that celebrity event planner Preston Bailey gave you the best piece of business advice you've ever received ("No matter how afraid you are or how unqualified you might feel, never walk away from an opportunity...").  But does this mean you'd never turn down business?
- Video Girl

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Dear Video Girl,
When I first began building a foundation for THE BRIDAL PARTY I never planned to turn any potential clients away.  I was eager and anxious to take on all inquiries.  I realized fairly quickly however, I could not run an honest and meaningful company if I failed to set expectations and standards.  There are two things in play here: 1) Ability/Talent and 2) Trust/Comfort.  As far as ability/talent, thankfully I have yet to come across an event I felt I couldn't handle with flawless execution.  But if this were to ever become the case, I'd graciously refer that client to a colleague I was confident would better suit her/his needs.  When it comes to trust/comfort, it's imperative that brides and grooms feel comfortable with their wedding vendors, but it's equally as important that wedding vendors feel comfortable with their brides/grooms.  And for this reason, yes, I have turned down business.  It hasn't happened often (thank goodness), but it has happened.

As you build your business, I'd recommend you check out a few of Harry Beckwith's books, particularly "What Clients Love: A Field Guide To Growing Your Business."  In it, Harry lists these four rules for choosing clients - because after all, our prospective clients shouldn't be the only ones choosing.
  1. Trust Your Instincts. If something feels wrong, it will be.
  2. Bad clients don't produce minimal returns; they produce losses.
  3. If a prospect is most interested in cost, you will never be happy and always be vulnerable.
  4. You cannot cut a bad deal with a good person or a good deal with a bad person.
Also look out for early warning signs and red flags, like promises of future work, severe questioning of your rates, weird contract revision requests and the stick-and-move technique (continuously playing on your sympathy in efforts to obtain "extras" not agreed upon).  As you referenced in your letter, Mr. Preston Bailey did give me the best business advice I've received thus far, about never walking away from an opportunity, but even he openly admitted on his blog recently,
NOT ALL CLIENTS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU!  If, in the first meeting, your gut is hurting do not take this job. This might be one of the biggest mistakes I have made in the past–a mistake that cost me not only money but many sleepless nights.
For me, it's essential that I run a business based upon integrity, dedication, flawless execution and honesty.  Thus, making certain my clients and I are comfortable and that we trust each other is far more important than any profit to be made on my behalf by entering into an agreement with them. 

I hope this helps,

P.S. As an "ole film buff," I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE wedding videos! Best of luck to you.

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

1 comment:

Jacob's Mommy said...

That was really great advice, Rashana!

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