Thursday, July 7, 2011

On Social Media

I recently made the following statement to my staff, 'You know, I'm really tired of twitter, facebook, blogs and the whole kit and caboodle! I think I want to take everything down and be done with it for good.'

I got some blank stares. And a, 'I don't think that's a good idea, Jodi.' But, the statement still holds true. I hate what social media has become in the wedding industry. I hate reading passive-aggressive statements from locals and wondering if I'm the target. I hate reading about how perfect everyone's business and life is when we all know that no one has a perfect business or life. (I surely don't!) I'm just so exhausted by it all lately that I wonder if it is time to pull the plug and get back to the basics?

I recently took a new direction on this blog and began writing about the issues that affect us with the idea of specifically targeting wedding and social event planners. What I write it is truly from my heart. But what I have come to realize is that my words can be interpreted in whatever voice the reader chooses to use. A very benign statement can be misconstrued as arrogant or haughty even if that is not the voice that was used when writing. This is the very thing that I am struggling with right now. How can you make someone read a post in the voice it was written in? The answer is, you can't.

A highly respected social media expert once told me that it's important to maintain a presence should you ever want to write a book or engage in public speaking one day. Publishers will look at your stats to confirm that you have a 'following.' It's always been a goal to a.) write a book b.) speak on the topic of luxury wedding planning and c.) teach event planning at the college level. But I'm wondering if these should continue to be goals if social media is going to make me second-guess myself all the time?

This post has been brewing in my head for a number of weeks now and I wonder how you, my readers, feel about this topic? Do you share the same feelings and thoughts? Do you struggle with the same issues? Please, make me feel better and tell me I'm not alone! :)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who You're Serving vs. Who You Should Be Serving

It's impossible to make a square peg fit into a round hole. We all know this to be a fact and recognize this to be true. Yet we continually try to 'prove' this wrong and force that square peg into a stubborn round hole. We twist and turn that peg and try with our might to shave those sides off in an effort to make it fit. Often, we're able to make the two come together through our pushing and prodding. But, it's never the good and proper fit it should be.

Most of us in the wedding industry have spent much time thinking about the type of client we want to serve but not enough time thinking about the client we do and should serve. Too little time has been spent asking ourselves if our skill set matches the clients we're striving for. It's like making a square peg fit into a round hole. We may want to serve a certain client but we may be ill equipped to do so. Hence, the lack of that good and proper fit mentioned above. And the risk of having a frustrated and disappointed client in the end.

I am a luxury wedding and social event planner. I know that about myself and my business. I'm not a non-profit planner nor am I a meeting planner. It's not what I'm good at or passionate about. I am definitely not the right fit for everyone. In fact, I'm a bad fit for most. I freely admit I could not properly serve a DIY bride, for example. It's not the type of bride that I would be comfortable working with.

I want to challenge you to look closely at who you are and where your skills lie before you write your next proposal or accept that next job. It's easy to talk about who you want serve but harder to recognize and accept who you should be serving. Be true to who you are and intimately know and understand where your gifts and talents lie. By doing so, you'll be a perfect fit for your clients and their needs. And you won't be that square peg trying to fit into a round hole.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

For My Sweet Jilly

Many of you know that Jillian is an awfully important person in my life. I first met Jill over three years ago when I was a one-woman shop and doing the day-to-day tasks on my own. Jill started working for me part-time shortly after graduating from Michigan State University and within months, joined me full-time.

For many years, it was just Jill and I doing everything it took to run a growing business. And in that time, Jill became so important to me and my entire family. I have a love for Jill that transcends the boss/employee relationship. She's so much more to me than that. I can't even describe how I feel about her because I love and adore her that much. My kids wouldn't know what to do without Jilly in their lives!

Jill tragically lost her brother Eric yesterday. We have spent countless hours talking about him over the years. She loved him with every fiber of her being. Eric and her older brother Nick mean the world to Jill. She's the baby of the family and looked up to both of them as any little sister would.

As I sit on the sofa inside our rented condo in Florida tonight, I find myself wishing I was anywhere but here. I want to be back in Michigan to hug Jill and tell her that it's going to be alright. That God promises to us that He will never give us more than we can handle. I want to hug her and tell her that I've amassed a group of prayer warriors that are pounding down the gates of heaven for her and her family. I want to hug her and help comfort her pain and wipe her tears away.

Jilly, if you're reading this tonight, I want you to remember that God knows your pain. He loves you so much and He will be your refuge and strength. Find comfort in His promises and the knowledge that Eric loved Him as much as you do!

You are loved!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our New Venture!

You read that right! And I'm so excited to share this news with you. This process has been months in the making but I wanted to wait until the time was just right to tell everyone. The time is right. And we couldn't be more excited! In Any Event has officially become a full-service event planning firm offering in-house event floral to all of our clients!

We've been flying under the radar with this for some time now. Quietly, we've been working with our 2011 clients to develop the perfect floral 'look' for each of them. And I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. Since this is such a big change for the company, I wanted to get everything in good order and steady our proverbial 'sea-legs' before we made this transition known to the world.

I have hired the most amazing floral designer! Her name is Tracy Knoth and she comes to In Any Event with years of floral design experience. By trade, she's a gifted illustrator that developed a passion for European floral design many years ago. Tracy's floral concepts and ideas are breathe taking! And when she and I start talking about design, you can literally feel the energy in the room. It's infectious, for sure!

Adding in-house floral design has long been in my business plan but I was waiting for the right time to add it to the mix. Over a year ago, I added an invitation company and now that this business is up and running so smoothly, it was time to embark on this new adventure in floral. And what an amazing adventure it has already been. In a short amount of time, I have learned so many things about the industry. But, what many may not know about me is that floral is in my blood.

My father has been the Professor of Horticulture at a Michigan university for almost 40 years. Additionally, my parents owned and operated a very successful retail greenhouse business in northern Michigan while I was a child. I spent many summers running the cash register and helping the customers. I'm a master when it comes to transplanting geraniums and I was the only child on my 3rd grade field trip to the nature preserve to correctly identify a 'Quaking Aspen' tree! {True story.}

I do want to take a moment to publicly thank Jennifer Ederer and her entire team at Modern Day Floral for the amazing {!} product and service they have provided to In Any Event and our clients over the past three years. Though this transition comes with great excitement for me, it also comes with a bit of sadness because I count Jenn as a friend. She has always been an amazing supporter of my company {and I of hers!} and will continue to be a fantastically talented friend and peer in this industry.

So, there you have it! The secret we've been keeping close to us that we now get to share with you. I'm looking forward to this new adventure and to the future that lies ahead for In Any Event!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Have You Got a Friend?

I love friends.

I love having them and being one. I love how they challenge me. How they make me laugh. And how they comfort my pain.

I love how they lift me up. How they cheer me on. And how they always have my back. My friendships are truly one of the greatest blessings of my life.

But, there's one friendship in particular that I have grown to depend on and love. That's the friendship I share with another event planner who also works in the luxury market.

Why has this friendship become so important to me? Because there is no one who knows better the challenges I face on a daily basis. Or the joy I feel when the client says, 'Thank You!' at the end of an amazing night. She's a sounding board of reason. A grief counselor. And a fan. She's an amazing dynamo in her own right. And she's my event planner friend.

Too often event planners can be caddy, territorially and unkind to one another. So, finding that 'someone' you click with is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack. But, there is no greater comfort to me than being able to pick up the phone and call my event planner friend and say, 'Hey, how would you handle this situation?'

I want to encourage each one of you to find that kind of friend within your industry; be it photography, floral, pastry, etc. Spend time developing that friendship and leaning on one another. No one will know better what to say to you in both good times and bad than that special friend who knows your job as well as you!


PS - Thank you for being my event planner friend, Lish!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The General Contractor

Hello. My name is Jodi. And I'm a General Contractor. If you're an event planner and you're reading this post, you're a General Contractor, too. And you're responsible for all of those sub-contractors you've hired to get the job of a 'wedding' done.

Chances are, some of you have never thought of yourselves this way. But, you are. And with that title, you've earned yourself a whole lot of responsibility. And liability. Yes, that's right. You are liable for your vendor recommendations. Let me say that again. You ARE liable for the vendors you recommend. And should you have a client that isn't pleased with the way a vendor performed at an event, you better be ready to open your pocketbook up and reimburse your client for a mistake that had absolutely nothing to do with you!

Why am I telling you this? Because, I learned the hard way that when a vendor screws-up and makes a client unhappy, the General Contractor gets to pay. And pay handsomely I did. But, my job is to keep my client happy. And my client had every right to be angry about the way the vendor performed. This vendor failed my client and was unwilling to make it right. Yes, it's mind boggling. But, there are vendors out there with no integrity that have no problem watching the General Contract {that's me!} take the heat for their mistakes. And then pay through the nose for it.

If you're new to the business or thinking about going out on your own, have you stopped to think about the amount of risk and liability you take on as someone recommending vendors? Even if you aren't signing contracts on behalf of your clients, did you know that your professional recommendations do, in fact, hold you legally liable in the face of vendor failure? Are you prepared to assume that risk?

They say there are many costs to doing business. This is one of those costs for us event planners. And if I had to guess, I bet there are a lot of you who have never thought through this. If you're one of those individuals, run, don't walk, to an insurance agency. Tell them what you do and that you need to protect yourself in the face of vendor failure. The future of your business may depend on that coverage!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Things I Learned in 2010

It's hard to believe we're already 13 days into 2011! Where did 2010 go? The year feels like a bit of a blur to me. So many things happened in 2010. Some good and some bad. But all-in-all, it was a great year with a lot of blessings and a whole lot of 'lesson's learned'.

I thought it would be nice to share with you the Top 10 Things I Learned in 2010. From the standpoint of business ownership, 2010 was the toughest year to date. February marked the four-year anniversary of In Any Event by Jodi Bos. And with it came challenges that have shaped me into a better business woman.

I will admit, the past year has changed who I am and the generous spirit I once had. My husband says that's good. But it does sadden me because it doesn't feel like 'me.' But what I have discovered is that who I am as a business woman can be a little different than who I am as a business owner. Business and personal must be kept separate. And admittedly, I have blurred those lines for too many years.

So, with all of that said, let's take a look back at the Top 10 of 2010. My hope is that you, as event professionals and business owners, can learn from some of the mistakes I've made and save yourself a whole lot of grief in the end.

  1. I WISH I HAD LISTENED MORE CLOSELY TO MY HUSBAND - I can think of 4 situations that occurred this year that my husband warned me would happen if I didn't make changes. Image my horror when I had to tell him, 'You were right!' on four separate occasions! The words tasted like vinegar but in every instance, he deserved to hear them. The cool thing about my husband is that he thinks with the left side of his brain and I think with the right. Instead of fighting his advice, I learned I need to celebrate the fact that together, we're thinking with a full brain!

  2. A CIRCLE OF THOSE YOU CAN TRUST NEEDS TO BE REALLY SMALL - Don't allow too many people to become intimately involved in or have knowledge of your inner-company workings. You'll be awfully hurt/mad when you get seriously burned. And it will ruin relationships.

  3. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A ROCKIN' ATTORNEY - If you could see my attorney bills from 2010, you'd want to cry. Things I thought would never happen did, in fact, happen. My attorney was always calm, in control and had my best interest at heart. He gave me amazing advice. Tightened the screws on some things that were a little too lose and became a member of that really small circle of trust I mentioned above. Does it stink that I shelled out thousands of dollars to him this year regarding numerous issues? It does. But, he was worth his weight in gold if only to help me re-focus on running my business and not letting it run me.

  4. MAKE SURE YOU'VE GOT ALL THE NECESSARY INSURANCE COVERAGE - You can't anticipate the crazy things that might happen. So you better have a lot of liability coverage AND worker's compensation coverage. Here's a great example. I have my staff running errands for the business all the time. If one of them gets in an accident running to one of our vendor's offices, In Any Event is liable. Doesn't matter if they're contract or employee-status. Make sure you are FULLY covered!

  5. DON'T EMPLOY YOUR FRIENDS - Let me repeat this. Do NOT hire friends. Feelings will get hurt and friendships will be ruined. Trust me when I say this, I thought I was above this sage advice when it came to hiring friends. But I learned the hard way that I wasn't. Keep your business separate from your personal.

  6. ONLY HIRE VENDORS THAT ARE FINANCIALLY HEALTHY - The question begs itself; how do you know they're healthy? The answer isn't easy because it's not like you can ask a potential vendor to open their books up for you. So, hire those who have been in business for a while. Hire those who have good references. Hire those who can prove to you they have coverage. Ask new vendors how they would resolve conflict and/or compensate if a client is not happy. At the end of the day, if you are not hiring stable companies and you're the one signing contracts on behalf of your clients, you're going to end up compensating an unhappy client for a mistake caused by a vendor!

  7. TREAT THE HIRING OF PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR YOU VERY SERIOUSLY -Check references, check references and check references! In the words of my husband, 'People don't get fired from jobs because they were good.'

  8. DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE POLITICS OF THE INDUSTRY - 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.' Whoever came up with that saying was an idiot because words DO hurt. They hurt really bad. Stay above the fray. Remove yourself from situations that only cause you anxious feelings and an unsettled heart. It's hard enough to run a healthy business in this economy without allowing what others think and say to influence and affect you. I know this is easier said than done. So take baby steps. Stop reading blogs that make you crazy. Don't follow people on twitter who make you feel bad about yourself. Take the power away and you'll instantly start to feel better. I promise, it works! :)

  9. LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS - I have been fortunate to operate in the black since starting out 4 years ago. I made purchases as I could afford them. I didn't buy a company cargo van until I could write a check for it. The basement of my home is currently under massive construction to accommodate both my planning business and my letterpress invitation business. This, after 4 years of 'making-do' until I could pay cash to make these professional-grade renovations. I'm so glad I did it this way. But I will admit that I did covet beautiful office spaces. And it took everything in me not to jump the gun and over-extend myself. But now I get to have the beautiful work spaces and my business is healthier for not making any rash decisions before I could afford exactly what I wanted.

  10. DON'T THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER - Some of the situations that I experienced this year were so painful that I wanted to close the doors to the business and 'be done with this crap!' {Yup, those words came out of my mouth about 100 times this year.}But, what I see now, after coming out the other side, is that these challenges were blessings that have smoothed the rough edges of my business. They've made me smarter. They've made me ask different questions. And they've shaped me into a stronger woman. The bathwater can get pretty murky sometimes but the baby is still beautiful and worthy of life!