Growing a Hands-On, High-Touch Business with Perfect Planning Events founder Tara Melvin

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How duplicable systems keep things running smoothly
  • Why strong vendor relationships help Perfect Planning Events deliver
  • How to control the client mix so that you’re getting the business you want

I learned a lot about what it takes to run a hands-on, high-touch business this week when I talked to Tara Melvin, founder of Perfect Planning Events, on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast. As a wedding and events planner for more than a decade, Tara has developed deep relationships with vendors and created systems that help her deliver the high level of service her clients expect.

Systems and strong relationships

Build your vendor partners and treat them how you want to be treated.

– Tara Melvin

On average, Perfect Planning Events handles 15 to 18 events per year depending on the mix of full-service clients and the less time-consuming coordination-service clients. Tara is highly involved with the customer for 9 to 12 months. All vendor communication from the venue to the DJ funnels through Tara, so the bride, groom and their families only need to worry about the phone calls and emails coming from one source—Tara.

I’ve been in business for 13 years now and I have good, solid vendor relationships that when I call on them to get the support I need, I know they’re going to bring their A game whenever it’s time to produce events for my clients.

– Tara Melvin

To be a successful planner, you need to be highly organized, and so Tara has developed a systems-based approach that’s mostly electronic to keep herself, her team and her clients updated and on the right track. Tara uses Evernote to keep the flow of notes and ideas going even when she’s on the go, Outlook to schedule all her appointments and follow-ups, and gives each of her couples a client workbook with checklists, budget sheets and information that she developed over the years to make wedding planning simple and less stressful for them.

With her full-service clients, Tara has nine face-to-face meetings (this doesn’t include site visits) that last two hours each. They discuss any changes to the “hopes and dreams” for the event, payments that are due and progress with the planning.

Pricing strategy and client mix

Tara recently verified her pricing strategy: She wanted to be sure she was providing a fair price for her clients, but also wanted to ensure that she was being fair to herself. So, she tracked every email, phone call and hour she used from start to finish for a full-service client. It was a real eye-opener for how much time she spent with each client. From there, she calculated what she wanted to make annually and came up with a per-hour price for her services.

Tara always aims to get that full-service client. She won’t sign a client for just coordination services until its 6 months out from their wedding date. This allows her to preserve her time for her most desired service offering, but then she can fill in any of her open time and make additional income by offering just coordination services.  

Listen to the full episode to learn the secret to dealing with client drama with poise and professionalism, how Tara introduces her team to each project so that they can step in for her if necessary, how networking helped her make connections that built her business and what’s next for Perfect Planning Events.

Never miss an episode by subscribing to the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast on iTunes where every week I talk to today’s entrepreneurs about how they are building their business and teams to create the lives of their dreams.

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