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Setting Boundaries and Expectations with Clients

Burnout is common in the event industry, due to hectic schedules and the variety of personalities we encounter each day. From engaged couples to families to corporate clients, it seems that everyone has their own expectations for the planning process. Some may be ready to let you take the reins and run with it, whereas others may want to be heavily involved in every little detail.

While it’s important to respect every client’s expectations and preferences, it’s also extremely vital that you, as the business owner, set your standard company policies and boundaries very early in the process. In fact, the initial consultation is the ideal time to get down to business and cover the things that you will and will not do, as well as how you expect the client to contribute to the event.

Proceed

If you don’t already, be sure to create a standard set of procedures to share with every new client. This can include, but is not limited to your office hours, when and how you are best reached, what your responsibilities are, the deliverables you’ll provide, and what your expectations are for each client. Having these policies across the board will simplify your onboarding process, as well as giving you a strict set of rules to refer to, in case anyone crosses the line.

“Don’t ever let a client bully you—remember that you are the expert in this situation.”

Keep in mind that everybody will have different boundaries and expectations, so enforce those that feel the most important to you. For us, we make it clear that it is the client’s responsibility to schedule appointments and choose the meeting place; I am then responsible for being there, both physically and mentally. We also have boundaries on the timing of appointments, as evenings tend to be our personal time (and keeps us sane). On the other hand, an industry buddy of mine will take appointments whenever a client needs to, but he limits the location to a few nearby coffee shops so he doesn’t have to commute very far.

If somebody does cross the line or tries to talk you into something you’re not comfortable with, don’t be afraid to tell them how it is and be upfront about the boundaries you have set. Don’t ever let a client bully you—remember that you are the expert in this situation. In extreme cases, walking away may be the best solution. A client that is never satisfied is not worth the months of stress—chances are you can fill their slot with someone who is much more reasonable and easy to work with.

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.