8 Steps to Charging For Your Event Planning Services
Whether you’re starting an event planning business or plan to be an independent planner, knowing how to charge for your event planning services is going to make (or break) your success.
Typically, event planners are hired when their clients don’t have the resources (time, money or people) to plan an event themselves. An event planner can take over the event planning and management so the client can step back and focus on their clients or business while all the details of their event are handled by a professional.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning events part-or full-time, the goal to charging for your event planning services is to make a profit — no matter how big or small the event.
Victoria Gibson, a coach and marketing consultant, recently wrote an article called Price and Popularity or Results and in it she says, “…if you are in the philanthropy business, this is a great intention, but if you are in business business, this is a really bad strategy…don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will get more sales with lower prices, that does not always work out.”
Charging For Your Event Planning Services
Today we’re taking a look at 8 steps to charging for your event planning services:
- Track your time
- Set your pricing and be confident about it
- Know your process and share it with your clients
- Start with the end goal in mind
- Find a need and fill it
- Follow up quickly!
- Share documents with your clients (budgets, etc)
- Know your hourly rate
- Hours Keeper
- Hours Tracker
- My Hours
For a fresh look on how to charge for your event planning services and more information about the eight steps, watch today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV.
Now it’s your turn.
In the comments, let us know if you’ve been questioning how you charge for your event planning services and how this video has helped you.
We love hearing from you, and your comments help other event planners, but links to outside sites or videos are considered SPAM and are deleted. 🙂
Huge thank you for sharing and joining us.
To your profitability,
We’ve got a bunch of people on Periscope, oh sorry, on the webinar. Christina in Athens – hey Christina, nice to see you. Valerie’s here ago. Marlo, hi Marlo. Joanne, Angelia, Megan, Linda, thank you so much for joining me. So we are going to go through eight steps for charging for your event planning services, and I know a number of you have joined me before, both on Periscope and on the webinar in the past, and if you’re joining me for the first time and you’re new to this – hey Cathy on Periscope, nice to see you – I’m Melanie from eventplanningblueprint.com and we create programs and products for event planners who want to start their event planning business. So I’d love to hear where you’re at in terms of your event planning business or your event planning career. Just feel free to make comment. No sound? I don’t know what to tell you, Cathy. Let me just see here… Is that better? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Angelia says, “Just starting.” Hello, Danielle from San Diego. Thanks for joining us. Can you hear me? I just want to kind of get the technical difficulties out of the way so we can get started, but if you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to pop them in. Cathy, are you able to hear me? All right, so let’s get going. So as I mentioned, I’m Melanie from eventplanningblueprint.com and I want to welcome you to this webinar or this Periscope, if you’re joining us on Periscope, and we are going to talk about eight steps to charging for your event planning services. So first, as I mentioned, I do want to welcome you and I do need to go through a… Hey Cathy, you’re back. Are you able to hear me? So because we’re going to be talking about money, I do have to give you a disclaimer. While we make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent the products and services reviewed on this website or the potential for income, it should be noted that earnings and income statements made by eventplanningblueprint.com are estimates. There is no guarantee that you will make these levels of income and you accept the risks that the earnings and income statements differ by individuals. Now that we’ve got that out of the way – sorry Cathy, I know you said something but I missed it. If you want to comment it again, you can do it again. Great. So let’s start with step number one. Step number one is to track your time, and I know a lot of people don’t think about this, but it’s really, really important, especially when you’re charging an hourly rate, which most event planners do, or they start off by doing, depending on the size and the scope of their event. And there are a couple of apps where you can do this. You can go and create an excel spreadsheet, or if you have it in your budget to get some event planning software, then they often have tracking systems, but there are also places, like I said, there are some apps, and I want to recommend a few to you. One is Hours Keeper. There’s Hours Tracker or MyHours. So I’ll go through those again: Hours Keeper, Hours Tracker and MyHours. So those are three different ones that you can check out. To be honest, I haven’t used any of them, but I have heard that they are quite good, those three, so I wanted to throw those out to you. If or when you decide to use them, please let me know and then I can recommend them to other people as well. But the reason you want to start tracking your hours is as you grow and as you take on more events, it’s a whole lot easier for you to estimate how many hours it’s going to take moving forward, so it makes your budgeting a lot easier and your conversations with your clients a whole lot easier as well. So step number two is to set your pricing and feel good about it. I know everyone’s kind of nervous about how do they charge, how much should you charge, and it might take a bit of trial and error. You might not get it right at the beginning, but when you set your price, just go with it. And you might find out later that you didn’t charge enough or you might be getting some feedback from clients where you’re just too high, and you have to listen to that, but you have to take into account that a lot of clients – not all clients, but a lot of clients – might just say, “Oh, that’s too much. I can’t afford it.” Don’t listen to just one client. If you’re hearing it over and over again, then it might be an issue and might be something you want to address, but like I said, when you set your prices, just stick to them. Don’t be all over the place because it gets really confusing, not just for you but for your clients as well, and you want to make things really, really simple. So there are a couple of ways that you can go about asking your clients about your prices, about your services, and if you’ve been following me for a while, then you know every once in a while, I send out surveys. And surveys are a really good way because they’re anonymous most of the time, unless you set them up so they’re not, but usually they’re anonymous. And you can ask them questions. So you can ask them questions about your pricing, and the thing is with money, you do have to be kind of careful with it, because you don’t want to under-price yourself, and that will often happen with people, so you want to just word it properly or word it correctly in terms of the surveys. You can also do reviews and you can also have a conversation with them about it. So when you’re first getting started, or even after the event is over, you can have a conversation about the pricing and quality and the value that you provided. Again, just take it all with a grain of salt, but you have to be very confident in your pricing. And that’s number two, so I want to make sure that you get the overall message around step number two. Step number three is to know your process and share it with your clients. So for example, when you have your event planning contract, make sure that you go through that contract with them, and I know last week, when we were on Periscope, we were talking about that and it came up. So it’s really, really important to go through the contract and make sure that they know all of the steps and they know the process and it gives them an opportunity to ask you questions, and it also gives an opportunity for you to explain what it going to happen, why and how. So again, number three is to know your process and share it. And I know at the beginning, it’s going to take some time. You might not know this right now. That’s totally okay, but the key is to start documenting these things from the beginning. And if you aren’t a person to document them, you can get an intern. When I first started my event planning business 14 years ago now – time flies – 14 years ago, to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was starting out just like you were, but I got an intern. And I got some interns who also wanted to get some more experience in event planning, and they would come on client meetings with me. They would document everything so that I could focus on the client, but then we could go back to the office and do a debrief and they would have pictures. They would take pictures of the venue and the space. We’d have a checklist that we’d make sure that they went through everything, just in case I was forgetting anything or we wanted to make sure that we highlighted something for the client. We had all that information with us, and so there were two of us kind of tag teaming it, if you will. It really became a lot simpler as we went on, a lot easier to document our process, again, making it easier in the long run for a client meeting and setting up events and knowing how much to charge for events and our time. So number four is to build your event business with the end in mind. So what I mean by this is I know you’re just starting out right now or you’ve got a couple of clients, but what you want to do is to start thinking about where you want to be in three, maybe five years. Just close your eyes and envision what that looks like to you. You may even want to write it out. You might want to do a vision board, something that gives you some sort of visual for where you want your business to be, not where it is now. The reason why you want to do that is it makes it a whole lot easier to work backwards, and I know if you have the event toolkit, one of our products, we talk about this in that product as well, or if you’re in one of our programs, “How To Be An Event Planner” or HowToBeAnEventPlanner.com, that particular program also teaches you when you’re doing your budgets or your work back schedule or your critical path, whatever you want to call it, to work backwards. So with the end goal in mind, always work towards the beginning, instead of working at the beginning and going forward. It’s a lot easier and it’s easier to break down the steps and it’s a lot less overwhelming as well. So again, number four is just knowing your end goal in mind. For some reason, you know those parties where it’s show up as you want to be, I think that’s what they’re called, but it’s where you dress how you want to be or what you want to be like in five years. I don’t know if any of you have gone to any of those, but it’s the same kind of idea. Maybe you want to have a really successful corporate event planning process, so you go out and buy yourself the suit or whatever clothes, shoes, you get you hair done, you makeup done, whatever, however you want to feel or however you want to look in three or five years. Hey Sabrina, thanks for joining us. Nice to see you. We’re doing a webinar/Periscope combo today, so thank you so much. We’ve got a bunch of people on the webinar, and I know there were some problems with sound. I don’t know. I’m guessing there might be some problems with sound on Periscope, so it might not be going through, but that’s okay. We’re recording the webinar so it’ll all work out in the end. Hey Sabrina, can you hear us? Sorry guys, I’m just going to make sure they can hear. So we are on step number five of how to charge for your event planning services, and if you could just let me know if you can hear us. I think some people on… Jamie, you’re finally in! Yay! Were you having some problems? Hey Marshall, thanks for joining us. Can you guys just let me know on Periscope if you can hear me? I know there were some problems earlier. There are some hearts going out. Awesome. I’m assuming you can hear me. So Marlowe says, “I have a system issue. Will you review the eight steps again at the end?” Yeah, absolutely, and if I forget for whatever reason, then please just remind me, Marlowe. I’m happy to review them for sure. Jamie says, “I can hear you.” Perfect. Perfect. So number four was to build your event business with the end in mind. Number five is to find a need and fill it. So this is about finding the sweet spot within your market. When I started my event planning business in my city at that time, again this was 14 years – “I can’t hear.” Sabrina, I don’t know what’s happening with Periscope, but for some reason… Yeah, unfortunately on Periscope, the sound is working and I’m not sure what to do because the sound volume is up on mine, so we will send out the broadcast tomorrow if you’re on our mailing list. We’ll do a replay for it. So number five is to find a need and fill it. “I can’t hear anything either.” Okay guys, I’m just going to turn off Periscope and we will send out the replay to our email list. Bye! Bye Periscope. Okay, that makes it a lot easier to focus on you guys. It’s so strange. I wonder why that happened. So find a need and fill it. Maybe restart it? That’s probably a good idea. You know what? If you guys don’t mind bearing with me, that’s a really good idea – I’m going to do that. Hold on. I’m fairly new to Periscope, so I wish I could just hit a button and restart it, but I have to start over. Whoops. I’m sorry about it. I just want to make sure, because I did tell people that they didn’t necessarily have to register, so thanks for that, Joanne. That’s a good suggestion. There we go. Let’s see if this works now. Goodness. Technology… All right. I’ll turn that around; let’s see if this is working. So if you’re just joining us on Periscope, we just restarted it because there was a sound problem and I hope it works now. We’re talking about eight steps to charge for your event planning services. Cool. I’ll recap them at the end, but I’m just going to keep moving on, and if you’re on our email list – hey Marshall, can you hear us now? If you’re on our email list, then you will get these tomorrow as now. You’ll get the replay, which will be up for 48 hours usually. If you’re missing it, it’s okay. You can hear us? Oh, fantastic. Great problem solving skills, Joanne. Thank you. So we’re on number five… Oh my gosh, I don’t know what the heck that was. Things are going crazy here. So number five, again, I will recap. Hey Sabrina, hope you can hear us now. So number five is to find a need and fill it. When I started my event planning business – great, we’re getting hearts. Hi! So when I started my event planning business in 2004, I filled a need. In my community, in my city at the time, there were a lot of corporate event planners who were doing meetings, maybe DMC a little bit, which is Destination Management Company, and so I filled the need for corporate clients who wanted to have social events. So it wasn’t always parties. I know it sounds kind of like a party planner, but I did a lot of different events for them, so incentive events, but I kind of became like their social coordinator, and because there was a need for that in the community, but nobody was filling it, I moved in and filled it. So you just have to do a little bit of research and also follow what you love and are passionate about. Like I love bringing people together so they’re having a good time. Part of that were meetings, but meetings don’t really float my boat to be honest. They’re great and they’re part of the event planning process, but they weren’t for me. They weren’t what I wanted to do and what I wanted to promote myself as. Thank you guys so much for the hearts. I’m so glad you guys can hear us now. And so think about what you really love doing. What’s kind of missing in your community? And see if you can fill the need that way, so just going in, maybe through the backdoor, so to speak. Maybe there’s somebody who is doing it, but maybe they’re not doing it the same way that you would do it. There’s always going to be competition. You’re going to have to deal with that. Competition can be a really good thing, to be honest, and so make sure you’re looking for what needs to be filled in your community. Sabrina’s saying, “Competition is a good thing.” It is. You can learn a lot from your competition and they can learn a lot from you, and it makes the world go round. Competition does not have to be bad. Everyone gets all panicked about it, like, “Oh, my competitors are doing this and charging that,” and you raise the bar. That’s exactly it, Sabrina. Thank you so much for pointing that out. So number seven is to set up budgets and client documents, and you can do this so it’s really simple for you to share. This can become part of your process. We talked about setting up your process a few steps ago. Again, I will review these at the end, especially for Periscope for you guys, because the sound wasn’t working for you guys initially, but if you want to do it, you can do it with some software, some event planning software, or you can even do it in Google Docs. Google Docs is a great place to share documents. You may not want to give everybody access in order to edit those documents, but you can share them so they can view them, and then that way, it makes it really easy for your clients… Oh that’s right, Marlowe. I missed number six, so I’ll go back with it. So we’ll call this one number six. So just setting up your budgets and your documents that you’re going to share with you clients in Google Docs, for example, so it makes it really, really easy for them to have the up to date budget. You can change it right there. It’s live. They can see it. They have the URL for it so that they can see it at any time. So setting up that process makes it really beneficial, not only for you in terms of time management, but it makes it really easy for your clients and I know often, when you are sharing those types of things with them, they really appreciate it. Again, you’re not going to want to share all documents with your clients, but certain things like budgets, maybe even, depending on what it is, if they need to get back to you, you may want to share parts of your critical have with them, or you might have a separate one specifically between you and your client, so that they also have that information and they know the deadlines, and they know who needs to get the information to you and when. So we’ll go back to number six since I accidentally skipped it. Thank you so much for the hearts on Periscope. Number six, this is really important so I’m glad a few of you caught this. So if you want to follow up and you want to follow up fast – persistence pays. And when you are following up with your clients, whether it’s going into the sale – Sabrina says, “Yes!” with an exclamation mark – whether it’s going into the sale of asking them to hire you, asking them to hire you to plan their event, or somebody calls you and they want some information about your event planning services, follow up with them fast. Part of the benefit of being an independent event planner or being in a small corporation or small business is that you typically can do that very quickly versus in other organizations. I know I’ve worked with many event planners who are in large organizations, maybe working for legal firms, for example, and they are so, so busy that their follow up time is slow. Sometimes, depending on the type of organization, they are doing events for outside clients, not necessarily just for their organization, so it’s really, really important that you follow up and you follow up very quickly. But make sure that you also have the information. You don’t want to just call for the sake of calling. You might need to do a little bit of research at the beginning, and then make sure you have all the information so that you’re equipped to have that conversation. So number six or seven, depending on how we want to look at it, is to follow up and follow up fast. Finally, number eight is to know your hourly rate. I know we have talked about this a couple of times in the past and I know I have written a couple of blog posts about this as well, and I will include – I’m going actually do a blog post about this. I’m going to include this as the replay, and I will include a formula that you can use. There are a couple of steps that you want to take. This is key, yeah, I agree Sabrina, totally key. So there are a couple of steps that you’re going to want to take before you decide what your hourly rate is. One of those is you want to know what your break-even is, and if you’re on my email list at eventplanningblueprint.com, a couple of weeks ago, I sent out a document so that you could figure out with a formula what your break-even is. If you missed it, you can Google it at Event Planning Blueprint and “break-even.” Just put in “Event Planning Blueprint break-even” and you will find that. So go and figure out what your break-even is. And then you also want to know what’s kind of normal in your area for charging for event planners, and so you may have to kind of go under cover, figure out what other event planners are charging. If you’re part of any organizations, like networking organizations specifically for event planners, so MPI, which is Meeting Planners International, or SES, so it’s the Special Events Society, if you’re part of any of those types of organizations, there are a lot of meet-ups as well, so if you go to MeetUp.com, you can have conversations with other event planners. Sometimes it’s a topic of conversation for their event. Those are good ways to find out what other event planners are charging, but you also want to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. So if you’re looking at a wedding planner but you’re going to do corporate, the way that you charge and the amount that you charge could be very different, and it’s going to also be different depending on where you live. So I live in Toronto. It’s a bigger city. The city where I started my event planning business originally, I could charge less there than I could charge here, because my break-even is going to be very different. Danielle is asking, “Undercover?” So when people are in business, this happens across the board in many different industries, in this case, they’ll call another event planner posing as a potential client to get information. It’s kind of like – what do you call those when you go shopping – the name is escaping me, but when you go shopping, clothes shopping… Secret shoppers. So it’s like being a secret shopper, but you’re just doing it for event planners. Mystery shopper! That’s it, Sabrina, not secret shopper. That didn’t sound right when I was saying it. It’s like being a mystery shopper. That’s exactly it. Secret shopper, mystery shopping, one person is saying secret, one’s saying mystery; you know what I’m talking about now. So you’re going to be like a mystery shopper. Either one works. It’s all semantics. So Danielle, you want to be a mystery shopper for your location, and I know I’ve heard even many celebrity event planners talking about this, how they do this, and not just at the beginning of their career. They actually do this on an ongoing basis. Now at that point, they may not do it themselves. They may have someone on their team doing it, but the point is they’re always in the know – what is their competition up to? What are they doing? What are they charging? And again, you want to compare apples to apples. I’m going to review the eight steps again. It happens in every business. It’s not just event planning. Like I said, whether it’s a secret shopper or a mystery shopper, you go into a clothing store or a restaurant – restaurants are notorious for this – and they constantly have someone… I worked in restaurants when I was going through university, and I had so many mystery shoppers or mystery diners, and you never knew who it was, so you really had to be on your game at all times. So it’s the same idea. So I’m going to review these again since they were missed. So step number one, track your time. Step number two, set your prices and feel confident about your pricing. Step number three, know your process and share it with your clients. Number four, build your event planning business or your career – you don’t necessarily need to be starting the business – but start it with the end in mind, the end goal. You want to know what the end goal is. Thank you so much for the hearts on Periscope. Number five is to find a need and fill it. Number six is to follow up and follow up quickly. Number seven was to set up your budgets and your documents so you can easily share them electronically with your clients. It’s going to make your whole process a lot faster. And number eight is to know your hourly rate. So I would love to have questions or comments now that we have reviewed those eight steps on how to charge for your event planning services. If you haven’t already, if you’re on Periscope and you’re just joining us for the first time, please follow us so you get the updates when we’re online and make sure you head on over to eventplanningblueprint.com to sign up for our free weekly advice. I send out a new blog post every Wednesday. I’d love to have you guys following us. I know most of you, definitely on the webinar, are on my email list. I recognize many names on here, so it’s great to see you guys again. I hope that was very helpful for you. If you are in the process of starting your event planning business and you need some help, we do have our “Kickstart Your Event Planning Business” program, which is open now for registration, however, today is the last day to register for this year. We are not planning on starting that program again this year. You can get the digital form moving forward, but not the live version of it with me, and we’re doing live webinars and you can ask all the questions that you need and you can get those step-by-step instructions to get your business started. If you’re interested in that, you can go over to eventplanningblueprint.com and go to “Products” and you can see if there under “Kickstart Your Event Planning Business.” Again, it does close tonight at 11:59 p.m. ET. So we’ve got a couple of questions. Marlowe’s asking if I can repeat step four. Absolutely. Step four was to build your event planning business with the end in mind, so how do you want your business to look like three to five years from now. Start planning it now – so things like the quality of your business cards, the quality of your website, what you’re wearing, how you’re presenting yourself, how you’re speaking, those types of things. So always start with the end in mind, and you should do this with your events as well when you’re planning the actual event. Joanne is asking, “Do you have a Facebook group for the people who are in the webinar or Periscope where you can communicate about what we learned this week and last week?” Joanne, there is not a private group, but you are welcome to go to Facebook Event Planning Blueprint and I do have a business page set up there, so you can have the conversation there, but I do not have a private group unless you are in one of our live training programs. Angelia, “Where do I sign up?” For “Kickstart Your Event Planning Business,” I’m actually going to pop it into the chat bar here, but for anybody on Periscope, you can go to eventplanningblueprint.com. On the top right hand, you’ll see products, and if you scroll down, you’ll see “Kickstart Your Event Business” and you can click on that and register today for that program. It’s a four-week online live training program. We’ll have webinars like we’re doing today with the Periscope part of it so that you can ask questions about the program that you’re going to go through. When you sign up, you get a 99-page workbook to go through, and I actually just had a conversation yesterday with a woman who was in the program and she’s been working her way through and she’s finding it amazingly helpful. And she does have some clients now. You don’t need to have clients to be in the program. You have to want to take action and you have to want to do the program. You’re welcome, Angelia. My pleasure. I can give you all the tools, but unless you’re actually taking the steps to do it, I can give you all the answers and you have to actually work the program, so it’s like any other program. They don’t work unless you do. So what other questions? “This is the last day, March came fast.” Yes it did, Joanne. It came so fast. I agree. I know, it’s been up for about 10 days, and so today is the last day to register, and we are actually going to go through a lot of changes on our website at eventplanningblueprint.com and HowToBeAnEventPlanner.com over the next four or five, six months, and we are going to be completely redoing a lot of the programs. We’ve gone through a lot of the programs. We’ve had a lot of the feedback on the programs. The great thing about our live programs, when you register, I give you lifetime access to them. So as we grow them and we improve them, you don’t have to pay extra for those programs. So once you’re in, you’re in. I will tell you those prices are going up for the programs, and this isn’t me trying to sell you on it to get it today. If it’s not right for you today, it’s totally cool. I’m actually just telling you this because I want you to have the information so you’re not shocked later this year or next year when we re-launch those two programs and the prices are higher. For Angelia, I know that you’re interested in that program, it’s four payments of $99, so we’ve got an installment program. It’s super easy and it makes it really easy for you just to get going. Joanne says, “Sounds great, going to get on that tonight.” Fantastic, I look forward to seeing you in the program. So yeah, that’s it. We will be on again both on Periscope and on webinar next Tuesday, 1:30 ET, so if you want to register for the webinar, then make sure you get on over to our Facebook group. The links are all there and you can register for any of the ones that are upcoming and you can already see which ones we’ve already done. The replays go up for 48 hours and then they come down. Yeah, thank you so much for being here. I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday at 1:30 ET both on Periscope and on the webinar, and for anyone who’s going to be joining us in “Kickstart Your Event Business,” I can’t wait to get started with you on March 15. That program starts March 15. Thank you guys so much! Have a great day and I will see you soon!