When you are in the event planning business, saying “no” to a potential client is potentially damaging. This does not only happen to new event managers but even with established event agencies. There’s a fear that declining a request from a client may drive him or her away, or you might think you’d miss out on opportunities if you don’t say “yes” to everyone.
Do event planners have the right to say no? Yes, of course! This will help you and your clients know what type of event planner you are. It is important to do so because it will be easier for you to team up with a client that you want to do work with.
Here are some tips on saying “no” to your clients.
1. Consider the client’s request. You have to think and assess if the job and client fit well with your business’s objectives. You have to profile your clients so you have an understanding of what he or she is like. This can include your client’s age, income personality type, and location. You also need to study the characteristics and values that you want your business to be known for.
2. Don’t say “no” via email. If possible, never decline a potential client through email. You may think it’s easier because there’s no need to speak with the person directly. However, doing it in person or over the phone is the best way to remain professional and maintain the relationship. Although they may not be the right fit for your business, they may recommend or refer you to friends who would need your assistance for the events that fit your niche.
3. Be honest. Be transparent with your clients. If you have too much on your plate, tell them. If you really don’t want to work with the client, you can inform them that you have too many things on your to-do list and won’t be able to attend to them at this time. This will give them an impression that you are loyal to your clients and they will admire you for your work ethic.
4. Offer other options. If your schedule is full, provide them a time frame when you will be free and check if they can wait. If your client’s request is just not possible, you should offer an alternative solution and not just say “no” and leave them there. Partnerships with other event planners will fit well in this scenario. In cases that you can’t commit to additional work or client, you can recommend someone who can do the same thing for them and vice versa. Clients appreciate this since you’re still offering to help them in some way.
5. No need to explain yourself in detail. You don’t need full disclosure of why you are declining a request. You can simply say that the schedule is full and won’t have any more time to plan their event.
6. Have everything laid out in your contract. There will be times that a client will want to keep adding extras or change things that have already been agreed on. It may be difficult to say “no” if you don’t have it laid out. You can avoid all these by having a contract and include what the scope of your event planning is, if there is any out-of-scope work, and how much it would cost them. This will be easier for you to decline any requests that are no longer part of your coverage because the client has already signed and agreed to the terms. Any last-minute changes will be avoided.