The relentless pace of wedding season can be tough for even the most seasoned catering pros.
It's easy enough for long hours to lead to burn-out among culinary and sales staff long before wedding season is over.
Throw in difficult and demanding couples and the road to burnout is fast tracked.
As we head toward wedding season, we're sharing a few easy ways to set boundaries with difficult clients and ensure your staff's energy isn't zapped unnecessarily when they need all the energy and stamina they can get during this busy season.
In order to provide equal service and preserve your sanity throughout the season, here are some simple strategies for setting boundaries with any client.
Set expectations early
We don’t need to wait until they sign a contract to set boundaries. Let them know early on what it’s like to work with you.
Remember: prospecting is as much an interview of them as it is of us. It’s our chance to qualify each lead to ensure they’re the right fit. Let them know the best ways to contact you from the onset and it’ll be a smoother transition when they do book.
In addition, make sure the client clearly understands your role. If you’re asked to do something that isn’t in your catering company’s services, be prepared with a list of industry references who can help them.
Choose a point of contact
Do your very best to stick with one contact for each event, be it the client, their planner, or a family member. Working with too many people can get overwhelming and increases the likelihood that there will be miscommunication down the line.
Start each client relationship off by determining who is the key decision maker, so you can direct all of your communications to them. Don’t give them your personal cell phone number, though. Instead, use a tool like ZipWhip to create a generic (800) number that you can give to clients.
Plan your schedule
Your time belongs to you, so don’t lose your schedule to clients. Take control by setting a certain number of meetings so they understand your time isn’t unlimited. If there are days of the week when you may not respond as quickly, let them know. If weddings fill up your weekends, let them know.
Communication is key as it sets expectations upfront in a positive manner. Don’t be afraid to lose prospects by being straightforward about your guidelines; if they don’t book for that reason, trust that they are not the right fit and move on.
We also need to remember to stick to our schedule. If you receive an email at 10 p.m., responding right away will set the expectation that you will continue to do so. If you want to address it, use a tool like Boomerang for Gmail, which allows you to pre-schedule your response.
In addition, consider getting a calendar scheduling program, like Calendly or Acuity. These connect with your calendar so you can block off certain times that aren’t available to clients. Then, you can easily have them book appointments with you during your open hours.
Is Work-Life Balance Possible During Wedding Season?
It’s not easy, but boundaries are the key to achieving the highly-coveted work-life balance. You may work for your clients, but you also run a successful business — stick with your values, know your worth, and don’t settle for anything less.