Archive for June, 2014

Backyard Haven 1

Can you turn a regular, rectangular city backyard without a feature to its name into a joyous place for celebration, tranquility, relaxation, and peace? Cold you make the same area do double duty as a great party place as well as a retreat for quiet introspection? And can you let the kids run riot in it without worrying?

Let’s see how one homeowner in suburban Toronto turned her relatively small plot of weed-filled scrub into a charming oasis full of interesting areas and features to explore.

What elements would you include?

Backyard Haven 2

A pretty patio, for sure. This one has charming furniture, a hit of glamour and color in the cushions, a lamp for night time interest. It has old fashioned charm. It works a treat.

A shady spot so that you can dream a little with a glass of lemonade and a great book. (This summer try, “I am Pilgrim.” It’s a terrific thriller and will keep you rooted (pardon the pun) in your garden for many enjoyable hours.)

Where is that shade tree? Ah yes. She ticked that box beautifully. Let’s stretch out on a lounger and lie here for hours while she brings us an ice cold gin and tonic and we sip on it while our hearts beat faster to the frenzied beat of the spy hero in our book.

A water feature? Well, that would be lovely, but it can’t be anything too big in this garden. This one is perfect. Located at the end of the garden. Protected by stone walls, deep enough for the fish and for the kids to gather around. Lovely.

A pergola for some added architectural interest? Here it is. Sheltering its own domain, adding architectural interest and charm to the water feature that already has a lot going for it.

A stone path? We all love stones. They come with such history. If you strike lucky you may find one with a fossil in it as I once did in my own backyard. This stone path winds like the river bed it is intended to emulate. Perfect.

Lawn? Yes, with all the other features, our host still found room to include some soft, welcoming green grass. This green lawn is shapely and curved in all the right places – just like me!

Some beautiful perennials that will provide promises of things to come? Glory in the summer, radiant color in the fall and winter interest when the snow sits atop their branches for month after month n Toronto’s long winter. How about this Rhodendron, just about to burst into voluptuous bloom?

Annuals to give that easy burst of radiant color.

So, that’s our leisurely stroll through one homeowner’s creation.

What features have you included in your garden to turn it into a lovely retreat? Comments anyone? Tell us about your most unusual and successful garden feature!

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Help!

Sometimes, projects appear out of the blue when you least expect them. In this case, a mother’s panicked phone call launched a colleague’s delightful recent contract. It became a chance to reconnect with the magic of childhood.

Yes, we all love the highly profitable huge scale projects, the big, money spinning weddings, the detailed corporate events that eat up time, energy and massive resources. This contract was not like that.

The Back Story

In her flustered phone call, a mother outlined the situation. She had been away on a business trip and had instructed her husband and young daughter to do a little advance planning for the daughter’s ten year old birthday party.

And so, they did!

Together, the dad and his daughter outlined their mutual plans for a dream birthday party. And then, without further consultation…… THEY SENT THE INVITATION. In the form of an Evite. And you know what they say about the internet. Once you have sent something you cannot take it back. Right? Oh, so right!

On the mother’s return, she found that she was to host a swimming party for a mere twenty seven ten year old girls, that there would be arts and crafts, that great food, decorations, swimming in the backyard pool, a water balloon and water sponge fight had been promised, an elaborate haunted house would be part of the fun, and that, and here are the straws that broke the mother’s back, – the party would last a mere FOUR hours, and, “Oh yes,” that her husband would be away on a business trip in Calgary. She was on her own!

Who You Gonna Call?

“Would you take on a small job?” she asked our colleague. “I thought the rule was to invite the same number of children as the child’s age, plus one,” she said, “We ‘ve had 30 acceptances. And they said they only invited twenty seven!?”

Smoothly, our colleague sashayed into action. The panic subsided and the planning began.

Step One

There was a backyard pool at the house. Preferably, it’s a good idea to give the same number of children back to their parents as arrived at the beginning of the party. The event planner hired a truly competent lifeguard, and told her to bring another well qualified friend. You need two lifeguards for thirty wild, over-excited children.

Sponge FightStep Two

She planned a timetable and prepared a large scale printed version of it to be tacked up on a wall for consultation throughout the entire four hours.

  1. Forty minutes for swimming,
  2. Thirty minutes for the sponge and balloon fight.
  3. Twenty minutes for thirty over excited girls to change out of wet bathing suits.
  4. Forty minutes for the first craft.
  5. Thirty minutes to consume vast quantities of chips, pizza, cake and fruit platters while chatting nineteen to the dozen.
  6. Forty minutes to make the elaborate dream catchers.
  7. Finally, down to the basement for the haunted house which would morph into a dance party in time for pick up!

The timetable worked beautifully.

Step Three

Party TableIn a delightful visit to the local dollar store, the planner and her ten year old birthday girl, purchased sufficient arts and crafts projects to keep the children occupied for the two forty minute sessions. Together, they decided on a tote bag for each child that required painstaking coloring with luminescent markers (provided as part of each kit.) The second project they decided on was a dream catcher kit. Extra beads and feathers were added to the standard package mix so that each invitee could create something really original and beautiful.

In the same visit, the planner and her young charge had lots of fun determining decorations for the party. Together, they decided on,”ice cream colors,” pink and yellow table cloths, sparkly foam 3D stick ons all over the tables, cheerful flower stick-ups, pink flower balls, and the real star of the show, a mysterious “crystal” ball that changed colors as you gazed at it. The girls loved them all!

Step Four

Water Sponge Fight! Well, while the kids are wet from swimming, why not?
Four zinc buckets that could be used as planters after the party were purchased for $3.00 apiece, filled with water and sponges – and what would become the favorite activity of the party was ready for action!

Step Five

Birthday CakeFood. Keep It Simple Stupid. Ten year olds by and large are not that into gourmet food. And the mom was not that into elaborate cooking. Sooooo. Six huge cheese pizzas (they were all consumed!) bags of chips, fresh fruit platters and cake, glorious cake. A large slab cake was purchased. The message on it welcomed the girl of the hour to the glamorous double digits!

Step Six

And, finally, down to the dark basement for the haunted house, complete with spooky sound effects, courtesy of a Hallowe’en CD, jello “eyeballs,” tubs of gummy worm “intestines” and slime, glorious slime. Ten year olds LOVE goop. They got it!

A fabulous time was had by all, including the mom and the planner, everyone survived, thirty exhausted girls got to take home their loot bag projects! Success!

Are you looking to become a fabulous event planner? QC’s Event Planning Course might be just the ticket to make your dream come true!

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Michelle WinbergerName: Michelle Weinberger
Company: Diamond Interior 
Location: Red Deer, Alberta
Graduated From: Interior Decorating Program, 2008

“Growing up in an environment of design and creation with my family custom cabinetry business, I discovered I had a passion for creativity, specifically my distinct ability to create a unique space. Thus, I followed my passion and pursued an education in design.  I always knew deep down what I was meant to do.”

We recently caught up with Michelle and we’re so proud of what she’s been up to!  Not only has she launched a successful business, but continues to give back to her community by volunteering her services to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (C.A.W.E.S.)

Find out what Michelle had to share with us below!

Diamond Interior 3

What made you decide to become an interior decorator?

I have visions of creating my spaces. I always wanted to help people and when I create a space for someone and they light up I just absolutely love that feeling. Surrounding yourself around beauty helps you do life better, and I love that I can help people be surrounded by good energy.

When did you decide to take an interior decorating course? Why did you choose QC Design School for your interior decorating training?

I took the Interior Design and Decorating course because I wanted to pursue my dream. I wanted to get the confidence and education that would take me to starting my own company. I wanted to create spaces for people that would make them feel special. Everyone’s space deserves to sparkle!

Diamond Interior 2

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced in building your business, Diamond Interior?  How did you overcome it?

I think that getting my name out there and proving myself in the industry was the biggest challenge. But I learnt that if you want it bad enough you can have it, you need to work hard, give it your all, and always do your best for your clients. If you always do over 100% no matter what happens, good things will happen for you. Keep pushing through all the hard crap, never give up. Take care of your clients, always communicate with them and do your best.

What do you find is the most rewarding part of running your own interior decorating business?

When I started my fundraiser. Working and making money is rewarding yes you betcha, but when I started My fundraiser to help the women’s shelter raise money so I could renovate all their rooms was and still is so empowering. It makes me feel so warm inside that I am giving to those in need, and using the abilities I was given to help them in their time of need. Like my saying for my business goes, every space deserves to sparkle, I really mean it, and for the mom’s and kids that I help out every day at the shelter, I feel the most rewarded and I will keep doing it for as long as they need our help.

Diamond Interior 1

What has been your absolute favorite decorating project so far?  Why?

I love all my jobs. Each client is unique in their own special way, and I love being able to help them figure out their taste and create their dream before their very eyes with their biggest investment. Working with husbands and wives that don’t have the same taste is always fun because you can find a way for both of them to compromise while still creating a space that is warm and functional.

The work you’ve done with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter is truly remarkable.  What made you decide to partner up with C.A.W.E.S.?  How did you get involved?

I was at a point in my life that I needed get involved in more of helping other people then worry about what problems I thought I had. Helping out mom’s and children goes deep with me, and that is where I felt my heart was being pulled. I emailed the C.A.W.E.S one day to see if I could become a volunteer wherever they needed extra help. When they saw I had my own design company, they asked If I would like to sponsor a room. I told them that I would raise the money and do the reno myself for all 13 of their rooms. We are now at room 7 and I am so grateful for how far we have come. And what we are doing for these women and children just makes me shine, I want to keep giving. I know what we are doing is making a difference and that is why I now have started Diva on a dime. When these families have to move out and get their own place, we are their moving them with gently used furniture and décor so that they may still have a warm and inviting place to call home for their family and their now journey.

Michelle Winberger CAWES

What does the future hold for Diamond Interior? Where do you see your business going in the next few years?

I just want things to keep going the way they are. Help people create the home of their dreams, and continue and to help women and children in need by creating a place that they can truly heal. A place that makes them feel warm inside and safe.

Do you have any words of advice for future interior decorators or people who aren’t sure if the industry is right for them?

If you want something bad enough you can have it. You have to work hard, get out there network, get involved in your community, and do the best job that you can. Good things will happen for you, just keep pushing through. Get your portfolio out there and sign up for all social media. Show your work, help people, and you will be great.

Do you want to design beautiful spaces and give back to your community like Michelle? Find out more about QC’s Interior Decorating Program and take the first step to an exciting career!


June 18, 2014 12:00 am

Getting from Praised to Paid

Paid to Praised - It Should be Easy

The party is over. Everyone has agreed that it was fantastic. You were fantastic. They could not possibly have done it without you.

Wonderful. Any chance of any money, honey? Mostly, it’s no problem. Sometimes? Well. Not so fast.

People are funny. You might, in your innocence think that a client who praises you to the skies and back, would also be ready and willing to pay you in a reasonable way – on time and without quibbling.  After all, they have just lauded you and recommended you to all their friends as the best in the business.

However, sometimes clients just don’t get that their wonderful family party, is also your business. You may be the best thing since sliced bread, but you also need to um, eat, and preferably better than sliced bread!

Over the years we have heard some hilarious stories with clients. There was the family who lived in a massive house, drove a Roll Royce and insisted on the most luxurious , the very, very best of everything for their event, who simply and shamelessly refused to pay a penny afterwards. Yes, they loved it all, but didn’t feel they should have to pay now. The party was well and truly over. Good thing, we had, a) insisted on getting a substantial deposit before the event, and b) were prepared to be quietly, professionally persistent, Eventually we got paid most of the money owed, but, boy were they offended by the indignity of being chased for payment. That family became a lost client, but on the other hand, we did not really relish the thought of ever working with them again. Rule Number One. Do a check on clients, no matter how richly they may seem to live. Sometimes they really do live in straw houses.

There was the dentist who decided out of the blue that rather than pay his invoice, he would simply offer annual dental examinations and cleaning instead. No negotiation, no discussion. He assumed everyone would be thrilled. Only, not so much.

The divorced couple who were paying half each for their daughter’s wedding? She was in business for herself, understood the demands of cash flow and paid her invoice precisely as agreed. He was chased for his share for, well, let’s just say a very long time. It did not help that he was driving around town in a white convertible Mercedes, which he called his, “Babe Machine.” Lovely guy.

How about the husband who left his wife, and all his supposed fiscal responsibilities the morning after his daughter’s lavish wedding? “Well,” he plaintively said when asked for payment, “I want to start a new life!”

You are an Event Planner. That means that you are a People Organizer. Sometimes organizing people is like trying to herd chickens. But, you can do it!

Your ideal scenario is to get paid promptly and fully, and to keep your client for future occasions.

Discuss money and your terms right up front, before the event. Your clients should understand your payment expectations very clearly at the beginning of the process of building your relationship. At an early planning meeting, show the client your contract form and explain how payment terms are set up. You can be as friendly as you like. Always remember, however, that the foundation of a client  relationship is built on professionalism. Professionals require to be paid.

So. Design your contract so that payment terms are clear to all. Explain how those payment terms are to be met. An early deposit is a great sign of commitment and an indicator of willingness to pay. Do not be embarrassed. Go for it.

Many planners now ask their client to bring their payment check to the event so that terms can be immediately settled. That might seem a little brusque, but these actions are made by the planner who has learned from unfortunate harsh experience.

If vendors are to be paid separately by the client, work with them. Explain to the client that the band will expect to be paid on the night before they start the two hour drive home.

Offer a discount  for pre payment. People love a bargain. Even people who have just spent $100,000 on their celebration. You can afford to offer a 2% discount to ensure that your cash flow is healthy.

Make the terms of your invoice a little unusual. Most people’s eyes glaze right over the standard, “30 days net” payment terms. If you say, “Payment is due immediately when invoice is presented.” Or “Full payment is due 17 days from date of invoice,” clients are likely to pause, consider, and pay up. They recognize you mean real business.

Mostly, your job is creative, artistic and fun. Mostly, getting paid is a rewarding dynamic too. When it’s a difficult element, be prepared to chase the money in an organized, friendly way without getting too stressed.

After all, as the old Yorkshire expression says, “There’s nowt as queer as folks!”

Do you have any client horror stories?  Share with us below!  And if you’re thinking of a career as an event planner, QC’s event & wedding planning courses come with our Achieving Business Success series that helps you prepare for these uncomfortable situations!


June 12, 2014 9:00 am

Design Tips for Patio Living

Summertime Patio 1

After a long, harsh winter, we are all desperate to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and relaxation. The tiniest deck can become a welcoming retreat where friends love to gather and relax together with a cool drink.

And when it comes to drinks, don’t forget the kids. While the adults are sipping on their elegant cocktails, don’t assign the kids to a simple uninteresting lemonade. Ply them with something a little elegant too so that thy can feel part of the fun.

The mother of all mocktails is the Shirley Temple, The mix first appeared in the early 1930s in honor of Shirley Temple herself . It’s an easy mixture of carbonated lime soda, and a little Grenadine, a pomegranate flavored syrup that lends a lovely warm pink color to any drink and adds a distinct taste of tart sweetness. The lime soda bubbles through the pomegranate flavor and it is all becomes wildly delicious. Top the glass with a couple of maraschino cherry for dramatic effect and you will have a bunch of  happy children at your next deck party!

What features should you add to a deck to make it as inviting and welcoming as possible? Let’s examine five important elements.

Furniture

Make it durable, attractive and comfortable. That does not necessarily translate to expensive although you can go as lavish as your client’s budget and taste will allow. Include a table and chairs for dining in the mix. If the dining chairs are comfortable enough to do double duty for relaxing in as well, so much the better. We are all for ,”double duty” in decorating!

So. A patio table, some dining chairs and a couple of extra chairs or a sofa that will allow for lounging and relaxation.

Cushions

Cushions - Pop of Color

Add a cheap pop of color with cushions. If you keep the color of the main pieces of furniture relatively monochromatic, you can have fun with your cushions. Choose pieces that are covered in outdoor fabric and give them an occasional spray with a waterproof protection to guard against stains and water damage. That way, you won’t have to be all precious and rush them under cover every single time it looks like rain.

Storage

A storage box is a great addition to a deck. If it does triple duty as a bench for extra seating and provides a boundary to the deck too, well, so much the better.

Screen

If you are a city dweller, you may not be able to screen for noise from your neighbors. You can, however, provide visual privacy, shade and interest to your outdoor space with a screen. Go classic with a trellis that becomes a living wall of growing plants. Or keep it sleek and modern by installing some sheets of colored acrylic, simple bamboo poles or a plain wood backing screen on which you can hang a couple of big mirrors that will visually enlarge the size of the deck and garden with terrific effect.

Shade

Patio - Touch of Shade

A shady area is important on a deck.  If you have a magnificent shade tree that helpfully dips its branches over the deck, so much the better. If not, install a shade umbrella. Invest a little more and choose one that has a good, solid, mechanism so that the umbrella unfurls easily and smoothly. An umbrella with a feature that allows your client to rotate it to, “follow the sun” is also a great idea.

There are lots of other ways to provide much needed shade.  Think about adding a retractable awning, or installing a simple canvas canopy. Canvas filters the light beautifully. A trellis covering with vines trained over it is amazingly effective. A pergola will provide delightful, dappled shade.

Once you have the basics covered, you can have lots of fun with additional features like lighting, perhaps a water feature, and some cute accessories. More on those next time.

If you have done an unusual or attractive feature for a deck, let us hear about it! Add your comment below.

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June 11, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature: Jess Adlington

Jess Adlington

Name: Jess Adlington

Location: Emu Plains, Sydney, Australia

Program: Event & Wedding Planning

Website

When Jess Adlington decided to plan her own wedding, she set out to create something unique and truly memorable.  Well, she definitely succeeded at that!  Her DIY wedding set off quite a stir, even getting her featured on i-do.com!

After the wedding, Jess decided to make a career out of event and wedding planning.  She found QC, and has since graduated from the Event and Wedding Planning program.  With her newly acquired business acumen and industry expertise, along with the passion she exhibited in planning her own nuptials, we expect to see great things of Jess in the near future!

We caught up with Jess to find out just how she pulled off such a beautiful and fun event on her own!

Jess Adlington Wedding 1

1: Your wedding was just beautiful! Have you always wanted to plan your own wedding? What made you decide to go down that path?

Thank you. I wanted to plan something that everyone would remember. I decided to do it myself because I made the decorations to give it my own personal touch. Planning my own wedding was something I wanted to do.  I love themed events. Our housewarming was dress-up (heroes and villains) and our engagement party was dress-up as well. I’m currently planning my 30th and throwing an 80’s themed party. So planning a theme wedding was the way to go for us.

2: The Mad Hatter theme is absolutely brilliant!  How did you come up with that? Did you have any difficulties when it came to executing on the theme?

I went looking on the net trying to find something different and fun. I found Alice in Wonderland and decided on The Mad Hatter (to be different). I found a lot of ideas on the internet and started buying one of each of the decorations. I would pull them apart when they arrived to see how they were made and would make them myself. I had no difficulties finding or coming up with ideas for it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 3

3: What did you enjoy the most about planning the wedding?

The most enjoyable part was seeing everything come together. It’s one thing to put it together in your head but when it starts to come together towards the end it makes all the stressfully days’ worth it.

4: What was the most stressful part of planning this wedding?  If you had to do it again, would you change anything?

Table plan and place cards, I can’t say how many times this was changed. I just wanted to scream. Each table had their own place cards, so when we moved people around at the last minute I had to re-print them to make sure they had the correct character on them for the tables.

The wedding invitations would also be in this group as well. The invitations had 7 parts to be cut out for each invitation, plus everyone got a map to find the place. Everything was hand cut and put together.

I would still do it all over again because the end result was worth it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 4

5: Your wedding got quite a bit of attention! How did you manage to get featured on i-do.com and other high-prestige sites?

I was very lucky. I have a friend who works for the people who run the site. They wanted to do something on themed weddings and my friend mentioned mine. I was so excited because I spent 16 months putting it together, and for it to be featured on Australia’s leading wedding site I felt so privileged and grateful this has happened to me.

6: What would you tell future brides who are thinking of planning their own nuptials?

If you can dream it, plan it. Have the wedding you want, not the wedding others want you to have. Remember, you’re paying for it and they will be your memories to look back on. I wouldn’t change a thing about my wedding because I know everyone had a great time and still talk about it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 2

 

Are you looking to expand your knowledge and launch an exciting career in event and wedding planning? Check out QC Event School’s Free Brochure for more information on the programs offered.

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Like most people I love travelling. And one of my favorite things to do (and this may strike you as strange) is pack for my trip!

Whether I’m packing for a weekend away or a trip halfway around the world, I always take the same amount of care when packing my things. I have a lot of fun putting together ensembles and squeezing them all into my suitcase(s) a la Tetris, and I especially like accessorizing for my time away. Which brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves: tangled jewelry. What’s the point in bringing along the perfect accents to my carefully planned outfits if they’re just going to get tangled up into a frustrating mess by the time I arrive at my destination? So, today I’m sharing my three favorite jewelry storage solutions, all using things you probably already have lying around.

1. The Pill Box

I love pill boxes, but not for the obvious reasons. Instead of storing my daily multivitamins I use them to store my precious earrings. I opt for the transparent ones so I can easily identify what’s inside. And to ensure everything stays contained during the hustle and bustle of my trip, I’ll throw each pill box inside a sock before rolling them up.

jEWELRY STORAGE

2. The Glasses Case

Chances are you have one or two of these lying around. I know I do. And they’re great for storing larger statement necklaces. I usually only bring along 2 or 3 statement pieces like this when I go away, and all I do is stash them in a hard glasses case. These are typically lined with a softer material, so I know my jewelry won’t get damaged.

jewelry storage

3. The Hair Clip

Over the years I’ve tried many bangle storage solutions, but this one is by far my favorite. I always bring along a large, curved hair clip to hold my bracelets because it’s a great way to keep them all together and my suitcase organized.

jewelry storage

How do you keep your jewelry organized when travelling? Share your tips below!

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Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for house hunting. School’s out, the weather is beautiful, and many more homes are on the market than during the winter. If you’re selling your home during this time of high demand, you want to be sure that your home really stands out. To do this, I recommend starting from the outside. That’s right – if the outside of your house doesn’t look appealing, potential buyers will assume that the inside of the house is just as drab and won’t even bother entering your front door.

4 Tips to Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

1: Keep that grass healthy

At the beginning of spring, aerate your lawn and apply a fertilizer. Next, throw down some grass seeds to encourage growth — especially in damaged areas. Be sure to mow frequently and leave the clippings on the lawn because they provide nutrients to help your grass grow. Lastly, dig out the pesky weeds by the root as soon as you see them.

 

2: Bring in some color

Hanging flower baskets or flower pots are a great way to add a splash of color to the front of your home. Be sure to water and deadhead to keep them blooming! Geraniums are a beautiful, low-maintenance pick.

 

3: Fill in those cracks

Over time, asphalt driveways will inevitably develop cracks. Take a careful look at your driveway to identify where the cracks are. Depending on the damage, you may be able to do a quick DIY fix using a pourable crack filler. If your driveway looks like Godzilla has paid a visit, bring in the professionals.

 

4: Be boring

You heard it right – while your home is up for sale, you’ve got to appeal to the masses. It’s not the time to express your individuality. You may think your turquoise blue garage is beautiful and shows off your personality, but I can tell you that it’s a deterrent. If homebuyers don’t like your taste from the outside, there’s no way they’re going to enter that front door. Grab a can of paint in a neutral color and paint over that monstrosity (err personal flare?).

 

Remember, as soon as a potential buyers take the first glimpse of your home they will scrutinize every little detail. If they don’t like what they see, they may not even bother getting out of the car. Every little ‘problem’ they pick out equates to dollar signs and more work. Make sure to give them the best impression you can by evaluating your front yard and implementing a few inexpensive quick fixes.

Would you like to learn more ways to attract buyers to your home? Check out our home staging course.

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PART 4: Forging Business Relationships

So your business is off the ground. You have a good reputation, an online presence, and have acquired a few clients.  Now’s the time to think about partnering with vendors and venues to get greater discounts and traffic to your company.

The more partnerships you can forge with vendors, the less you’ll have to spend on traditional forms of advertising in the long run.

Here’s the catch: You need to get the vendor’s attention first!

Mutually Beneficial Arrangement

Before we discuss methods, let’s turn the tables a little:  Imagine you’re running a successful, profitable, busy event planning business.  A caterer comes to you and says “Could you give my clients a discount on your services?”

Your answer would probably be “maybe, but what will I get in return?”

Now imagine if that same caterer came to you and said “I have 50 businesses who regularly come to me for catering services and I’d love to recommend your planning services to them, could we form an mutually beneficial arrangement?”

Then your answer would likely be “YOU BET!”

I think you can see where I’m going.  It’s all about your approach.  If you’re approaching a vendor looking for a hand out, you’re most likely to encounter a closed door. Whereas if you come to them with an offer that benefits them, you’ll have their attention.

Here are a few easy offers you could make to vendors:

  1. The simplest is a straight-up exchange: You recommend their business to your clients, and they do the same. But, you can go further.
  2. Feature their services as a preferred or executive vendor on your website and social media platforms.
  3. Offer to use and promote their services as part of your next staged event.
  4. Hold a contest or some other promotion for your clients, where you give away a gift card from this vendor.
  5. Arrange an exclusive arrangement whereby your company will ONLY use their services (be careful with this however… you wouldn’t want to drive customers away by limiting their choices)
  6. Offer a referral program, where you pay the vendor for every customer they send your way.  (Note, there can be some ethical controversy around this one. Make sure to do your research and only associate with highly trustworthy people if you go down this road.)

 

How to get noticed by Vendors

So this is where the rubber hits the road.  How can you get a vendor’s attention long enough to present your offer?

Use Social Media

Odds are whatever business you’re targeting has a social media account.  Start off slowly by following them on their social media page and commenting on their posts. Engage in discussions with their followers and offer your opinions where appropriate. This will help you learn about the company’s values and you might just get noticed by the business owners, too.  If they do notice your participation, they may remember you when you come to them with an offer, and will be more receptive at that point.

Have a face-to-face meeting

There’s nothing like a direct meeting with the owner of a company.  A face-to-face meeting will allow you to observe their reaction to your proposal first-hand and modify your offer to suit their specific preferences or needs. You can either call the business first and arrange a meeting, or just drop by.  Calling first is a more professional approach, while dropping by has more chance of succeeding in securing a meeting.  You can try both and see what works best for you.

Emails and phone calls

Pick up That Phone

Unless you’re dealing with a bigger corporation, I’d stay away from emails for this type of venture.  Just think about the amount of junkmail you receive every day as a small business: your carefully crafted email message has a real chance of being deleted without ever having been read.

Phone calls, on the other hand, are a nice way to casually break the ice.  Practice a quick elevator pitch and be respectful of the other person’s time.

Flyers and Ads

This approach is useful if you’re targeting a large number of companies at the same time. You can create a beautiful and informative flyer or brochure advertising your services and partnership opportunities, and drop them off at local businesses.

The downside to flyers/ads is that you’re missing out on that personalized approach, and this option has the added disadvantage of costing you more than your time.

Whatever your method, remember these key points when approaching vendors:

  1. Have your numbers ready.  Before a business owner agrees to a partnership, he/she will want to know your customer numbers, your reach on social media, etc.
  2. Have their numbers ready, too.  If you’ve done your research, you should have an idea of what the business’ reach is as well.  This will show them you’re serious and committed.
  3. Don’t beg.  You have a great product and as long as you have an appealing offer, they should WANT to work with you.
  4. Don’t argue.  If someone doesn’t want to work with you, be graceful and thank them for their time.  Arguing their reasons is an easy way to damage your reputation in the business community.
  5. Stick to your values.  It’s normal to want as many partnerships as possible, but associating with less-than-reputable or questionable vendors will only hurt you in the long run.

Never Give Up

So what are you waiting for?

Getting your name out there isn’t easy. Like anything else it takes a lot of work, sweat, some tears, and most importantly, absolute determination!

 

Are you looking to start an event and wedding planning business? All of QC’s Event and Wedding Planning Courses come with our “Achieving Business Success” DVD series that offers much more detailed, step-by-step instructions on marketing & promotion! Learn more here.

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Proofreading

Are you James Patterson? The world’s best selling author does not even have to write his own books, let alone proof read them. He just comes up with fabulous and compelling idea after fabulous and compelling idea, writes ‘em down in a careful and detailed synopsis and then passes that on to one of his many “co-authors” to, well, author.

Not James Patterson?  OK, then how many bestsellers have you sold so far? If you have a good history of books that have sold well, chances are you will have an agent, a publisher, a copy editor and a whole litany of people ready and willing to check your manuscript for errors and to help you every step of your way.

If you haven’t already been substantially published, you are going to have to do the hard graft of checking, rechecking and proofreading yourself. Many beginning writers think that once they have completed the creative part of their work, they have completed their task. Unfortunately that’s not the case. There’s the little matter of attempting to sell your writing. Proofreading is essential if you want to sell your work.

Here’s the rub. Unless your work is completely error free, the chances of it even being read, however brilliant it is, are remote.

So, is proofreading a worthwhile use of your time and talent? You bet it is. How many editors have thrown their hands up in irritation and hit the delete button to be rid of a manuscript that may have had all kinds of excellent attributes going for it, but that was, “shot in the foot” by poor spelling, grammatical errors, or illogicalities in the story line? Many.

Your manuscript is not going to be one of those poor babies lying abandoned in the trash can of some nasty editor’s computer. Your work is going to be professional in every sense of the word. Original, creative and beautifully error free.

So, how do you proofread effectively?

First, allow yourself a little time to decompress after you have written. In the flush of writing, you fall in love with your work a little. You need to allow yourself time to get over that puppy love so that you can see the writing clearly for what it really is. Give yourself a few days to clear your head and then go back to read what you have written.

Allow the computer to do much of the work for you. Remember that spell check and grammar check are there and are helpful within reason. The computer software will pick up a lot errors but it won’t pick up all the errors. I received a manuscript recently. The story involved some hot and heavy sexual encounters in the course of which, the man “released his sea men.” That ruined the mood. The writer had worked so hard to create it, and I was left laughing helplessly. You never want a reader to laugh at your work unless you intend to be funny. You can be sure that the author meant to write, “semen,” instead wrote seamen and that the computer recognized that there is no such word and helpfully divided the word into two for him, with hilarious results. Know the limitations of your computer software. Use  your computer software, but use your human eye and brain too. If the author had carefully read over his text, he would have caught the unfortunate mistake.

Don’t try to catch everything in one reading.

Read over one time to try to catch any spelling errors. Read another time on alert for grammatical mistakes. Read another time to be sure that you have not suddenly changed the name of one of your main characters. You’d be surprised how often that happens. Read again to ensure that the plot line makes logical sense. Remember that you may write chapters of a book several weeks apart. You need a careful read through once you have finished to link all the parts together in your own mind and to be sure that you have not introduced plot and character inconsistencies.

Now read looking specifically at sentence structure. Your sentences should read as beautifully as the ones David Adams Richards crafts. And crafts is the right word. Talking of which, read through again to be sure that you have carefully chosen only words that are precisely appropriate for the subtle meaning you want to invoke.

Ask a friend to read your text with a red pencil in hand. It’s much easier to catch errors on the printed page than on the screen, and a good friend will read carefully and slowly for you.

When you have checked for errors by category, have enlisted your friend’s help, have checked for inconsistencies and made sure that all your facts and figures are accurate, you should be fairly confident that you have an error free document. One last thing. Know yourself. Most people have a mistake or two or three that they know they commit fairly often. I generally type form instead of from. A common one is to write loose instead of lose. You know the mistakes you usually make. They are probably the same ones that were your bugbears in school. Make a list of them. Have a last careful read to ensure that they are not popping their ugly heads up in your manuscript!

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