6 Mistakes to Avoid with New Clients
Updated: Mar 5
Have you ever spent hours, days, maybe even weeks evaluating a purchase, to finally commit to a product or service to find the quality is lacking? Whether it was the purchase of a new TV or contracting a new home service, do you remember the disappointment and frustration that flooded you when the value promised didn’t match value delivered?
That feeling right there is everything you want to avoid in working with your new client.
The first few weeks of interaction need to be treated with the delicate touch you would bring to holding a newborn child. Your main objectives in the infancy of a new client relationship is to establish solid foundational working systems, build trust and deliver supreme customer service.
Here are the 6 mistakes to avoid in working with a new client.
1. Treating event planning as common sense
Once you establish an expertise in any field, it’s common to speak about complicated industry topics using advanced jargon without recognizing the experience discrepancy with your audience…(cue your IT guys talking to you about Meta Elements and CSS while a question mark cartoon bubble floats above your head).
To best service your client, evaluate their level of knowledge on the subject and adapt your communication to match. A client with little experience in planning but a desire to understand the nuances of the current project, will need you to slow down and layout the details clearly from the foundation. Be sure not to rush over the details just because you have them handled on your end or make assumptions that the details are widely known. Gauge your audience and make sure you are conveying the right amount of information to match their level of expertise and their desire for detail.
2. Addressing similar projects with an identical approach
Don’t let your experience in the industry trick you into treating clients and events like cookie cutter projects. You’re client has unique needs and concerns; your job is to intimately understand and address them.
You might have two clients both looking to raise $60k in their respective golf tournament fundraisers. By only looking at those parameters, you might miss that Client 1 wants to hold a Zero Waste tournament to align with their mission while also providing a first-time introduction to the organization for new supporters. If you aren’t paying attention to your client’s needs, you might overlook Client 2’s goal to host the most outrageous, fun and talked-about tournament of the season to be the industry envy, and you might plan a classy affair and miss the mark completely.
Listening and learning about your client does not always stay in the professional realm. Often your role as an event planner extends to interpersonal relationships. By supporting your clients in personal dramas or even work struggles they are facing, you might be able to empower them to better advance the event, driving everyone to success.
3. Back burner-ing the work
Once a client signs your contract, they’re eager to see you deliver on all of the magic you promised. Even if their event date is far off on your roster of clients, make sure that you are showcasing your valuable work in the beginning stages of your relationship.
Developing a planning timeline is a great way to set realistic expectations for all parties on workload scheduling but make sure to front load those first few weeks to get the project started. From the beginning, ensure that your client is set up with everything they need from you to play their role in the project.
In the planning process, there can be slower phases of work production, but these are not times for you to go quiet. Communicate actively at all times with your client on what has been accomplished thus far and what the upcoming targets are. A weekly check-in email to your client with updates on progress and future tasks, might be all that is needed to let them know they have not been forgotten.
4. Communicating in your preferred style
Your heart might skip a beat for Cloud-based data organization. You might find your team is the most efficient when all tasks are organized within a Project Management system. You might sleep better by shooting off texts of random thoughts at all hours of the night…
You might do well communicating in this manner, BUT as a hired event planner, it’s not about you.
Some of your clients might swoon at your suggestions for modern technology-based communication tools, while others might prefer plain old emails or even…GASP…phone calls! You need to adjust your method of communication to work for your client. This does not mean you cannot gently challenge them to learn new systems that are best for the success of the event, but do be aware if new techniques are falling flat and know how to adapt. Sending 30 questions by email to no response from your client, results in no progress for anyone…try a text, set a meeting, schedule a Zoom…eventually you will find the best method for everyone.
5. Following the contract too closely
You might have spent months, going back and forth with a potential client on the services you’ll provide and outlining what their responsibilities will be on the project; however, there is a fine line to balance in the beginning of a relationship on how strict you adhere to the signed contract services.
As you begin the foundational planning stages of a project, a client can feel overwhelmed, lost and anxious. It’s to everyone’s advantage to quickly set up the procedural planning mechanisms and establish the base details of the event…even if that requires you to be a bit liberal with your scope of services.
Your client may have been responsible for securing the event venue and date, but if they’re not making progress and its holding up your ability to get production bids, set up registration and design graphics, go ahead and suggest some locations you think would be good fits, set up site visits, or even help with contract negotiations.
6. Assuming anything
We all know what assuming does to U and ME so let’s keep this brief. While building this new relationship, confirm, double check, check-in and verify at every step. Eventually you will understand your client’s preferences but until you are 100% confident, don’t let a simple guess damage your planning success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Thompson
Jenna is a mountain based Yogi with a love for veggie focused foods. When she's not in Warrior Pose you can find her spending time with her Avalanche Rescue Dog Luna with a Matcha Latte in hand!