Your Availability to Clients
One of the challenges of event planning is coordinating your schedule. Event planners frequently work nights and weekends managing events. This leaves little time for office hours in the morning or midafternoon. Create the perfect balance between administration and marketing with planning and executing events. Reviewing your office hours can point you in the right direction.
Planning Office Hours
A common schedule among event planners is to begin each day in the midafternoon and work throughout the day in the office and then go to an event in the evening. The problem with this scenario is your absence during the morning when new clients may be trying to reach you. Balancing your time between the events you have and the events you are hoping to secure can be tricky. Experimenting with different office hours will result in fewer missed calls and lost opportunities.
How should I prioritize clients, inquiries, staff, and events?
A good rule of thumb is to prioritize inquiries first. Next would be to handle upcoming events. Lastly, you should address vendors, staff, and other issues. This rule of thumb applies to phone calls, meetings, and administrative duties.
In the beginning of your career, you should experiment with 9-to-5 office hours every day. These hours will allow you to take every phone call and meet with every inquiry walking through the door. This is assuming you have no receptionist or assistant who can manage your calls while you are away. For those of you fortunate enough to have an assistant, your office hours may be slightly more flexible.
Your target audience while working 9 to 5 will range from corporate planners who are using work hours to plan an event to working people who may use a lunch hour to make an inquiry to a planner. You may need to extend your office hours past five o'clock when a potential client may be getting out of work. During the first two months of this schedule, keep a log of your phone calls, meetings, and drop-in business. Then you can take inventory of your heaviest call volume, appointments, and so forth.
Drop-in clients are those who may happen upon your office because they are walking by your storefront and come in without an appointment. Pop-up bookings are clients who are planning events with less than a week's notice.
Your log will be a valuable tool when it comes time to assess your office hours. If you are finding the heaviest day of the week for inquiries is on Mondays, it will be wise to maintain or lengthen your Monday hours. Perhaps Friday is a light day for inquiries, but you are using your time in the morning to prep for any weekend events. Shortening your Friday hours may be wise, especially if you find you are working weekends. Be sure to give clients two weeks advance before you alter hours.
Days Off and Holidays
Not taking days off can lead to event-planner burnout. Be selfish with your time, but take the proper measures before you take time off. Start by recording your office hours on your outgoing voice mail message. Some event planners may clear a calendar and take the day off after a late event. When you take an unscheduled day off, re-record your message to announce your absence, even if only for a day. For computer communication, program an out-of-office reply to let people know when you plan to return e-mails. Do the same on event days when you may need to cut your office hours short.
It may be tempting to give a client your cell phone number, but beware. A cell phone number in the hands of a needy client can quickly lead to cell phone abuse. It is always better practice to speak to clients in your office where you can take notes. Resist giving out your cell phone number to clients for emergencies until the day of the event.
Throughout the year there will be holidays and vacations you will want to take. Plan these far in advance and avoid scheduling events during this time unless you have another event planner covering for you. Be upfront with the client and let her know you will not be able to attend her event if it coincides with your vacation. If possible, hire a temporary employee during your holidays and vacations, perhaps an apprentice event planner. Having a live person answer the phone while you are away can put clients at ease.