Monday, March 26, 2012

The Boutique Event Planner

So I had lunch with an amazing woman the other day (You know when you meet someone and just know you're going to learn from each other and work well together immediately?  That was this lunch.), and after getting to know the type of business a.muse is, she described it as "boutique."  YES!  It's a boutique business.  That's the perfect way to describe a.muse.  I did some research and a woman named Sarah Petty has an ebook on the subject.  Here is some of what she has to say:
Boutique is a business model, a filter through which you, as a business owner, make decisions.  It’s a business that isn’t price sensitive, one that won’t compromise the client experience to save a few dollars. It’s competing on service, quality product and sensory experience rather than price. It’s being distinct, leaving an impression on your clients with each interaction. 
That is exactly what I do!  I'm not the least expensive, I'm not the most expensive, but I do provide the best customer service.  I answer my phone every time it rings, anytime it rings, unless I'm with a client.  I will work from 6 am until 11pm to get a project done right (which is also why I don't charge by the hour).  I have a philosophy that I will become a partner with each of my clients, not just a service provider.
The details set the boutique business owner apart... Mind-blowing service and a connection to each client is the admission price to compete that mass retailers cannot offer. Boutique businesses serve a special niche and have fewer customers by design.
That has also been another of my corporate identity.  I take on only a few clients each year because I do not want to compromise my level of service, or grow to the point of having employees doing the work for my clients rather than me.  I believe that no one I could hire will ever care as much or put as much effort into the work as I do.  "Fewer customers by design."  It's also why I'm not the least expensive.  I take on less clients and give more to each client.
Seth Godin, one of the best marketing minds in the world says, “Marketing isn’t about finding new customers all the time. It’s about finding products for your customers.” If you know your database well, if you view it as more than just a list of names, you’ll enjoy finding products for the customers you have instead of spinning your wheels casting a net in hopes of bringing in a big catch of new customers.
I already do this, too (sort of).  When I have a client, I listen to what they need and try to make connections for them, suggest other professionals they can use to solve their problems.  Part of becoming a partner instead of a service provider means that I do whatever it takes to help my clients succeed at their business.  I know Sarah is talking about finding something I can do additionally for them, but I take it a step further, if they have a need and I can't fill it, I will find someone else that can. final key ingredient is an extraordinary attention to detail that makes your clients’ experience with your business perfect... These little details set us apart from our competitors and the less expensive alternatives.
I once had a client ask me about my perfectionism.  She told me she was the same way in her professional life but that she's learned to let go of the idea that her outcome will be perfect because it never can be.  I told her that I would never let go of the idea that my service would be perfect.  I demand it of myself and everyone around me, and I always will.  Now, I'm an event planner, I know things come up in events all the time, but the way I handle the unexpected, the way I address those issues, the way the client experiences them, that is where my perfection really shines.  I work very calmly and quickly under pressure.  The guests and the client would never know that something unexpected happened because I will fix it before anyone notices.  That's perfection.  A perfect experience.  A perfect event. 

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