I came across a rather interesting article called, “How to Negotiate With Your Wedding Vendors.” Of course, this immediately caught my eye.
It’s always a good thing to know what the media is telling brides about negotiating. This advice wasn’t too hard core (I actually saw one article recommend LYING to vendors to get the best deal… “Why not? They lie to us,” she quipped.)
These guidelines for negotiating inspired me to come up with my own rules for dealing with the dreaded Negotiator Bride.
Rule #1 – Send a Pre-Sell Email.
Before you meet with the couple, send them an email explaining exactly how your meeting is going to go, what to bring along and what to expect. This will set them at ease and take the uncertainty out of meeting with you.
Give the couple some “homework” to do before you meet. In particular, have them read your rave reviews, any information about you they should know, and give them some questions to answer. This starts proving your value immediately and will help you nip negotiating in the bud.
Rule #2 – Don’t Be the First To Bring Up Price.
When a bride asks your price on the phone, use questions to skillfully redirect to get her talking about herself and her wedding. Use the Calendar Fumble to delay talking price until you’ve had a chance to create rapport and proving your value. “Congratulations! What is the date of your wedding?…Let me check my calendar to make sure we’re available…Where will your reception be held?”
At the meeting, get to know them before you break out that price sheet or contract. Build up your value and take control using questions.
Rule #3 – Know Your Bottom Line Price Going In.
Decide what your acceptable rate is and stick to it. What are you willing to do this job for?
An easy way to make sure you don’t cave is to create a “rule” you have to follow. You can do this by printing your rates or even making a vow to another wedding vendor that you will NOT lower your price.
Do whatever you can to make sure you can’t offer a discount, and you won’t. Make getting the price you want and deserve inevitable.
Rule #4 – Don’t Get Defensive.
If she asks for a discount, simply state what you’ve already decided you are willing to do, firmly and confidently. Don’t back peddle or start lecturing her about the value of hiring a professional.
Really, who can blame her for asking? Just stick to your guns and don’t take it personally.
Rule #5 – Say NO to Any Deal That Isn’t a Win For You.
Do not agree to any negotiation that is not profitable for you. Do you really want to work for free?
If you want her to value your services, you need to value yourself. Come from a place of power and be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table without the sale. If she REALLY wants you, she’ll pay your price.
Rule #6 – Always Make a Counter-Offer.
Have a prepared counter offer ready for the couple who asks for a discount. This might be a bonus you include or a payment plan that keeps the wedding profitable for you. Focus on what you CAN do for her to keep it positive and upbeat.
This is a Win-Win for both of you; she still feels like she’s been a good little negotiator, and you get to book the wedding without slashing your price.
Rule #7 – Say Goodbye to the Couples Who Don’t Appreciate You.
Be prepared to let them walk away. If they insist on a budget price that simply doesn’t let them work for you, or if they get nasty or belligerent, let them go. Do you really want to deal with someone who nitpicks every detail for 12 months and then doesn’t appreciate you for it?
How do YOU handle negotiators?