Business Consulting

5 Things I Personally Look For When Hiring A Business Consultant

These days, there is no shortage of business consultants who are happy to help you. As a business consultant myself, here's what I look for when hiring one – for myself:

1. They've hired a business consultant themselves.

I'm not interested in learning from someone who isn't interested in learning from others. Someone who is convinced they personally have "all the answers" usually doesn't. 

2. Their expertise goes beyond Google and the latest books.

I've hired consultants several times over the course of my career. Some were useful, some helped me shift my perspective on certain things even though their advice didn't actually work, and some were terrible – reciting paragraphs from books that I had already read, with zero knowledge beyond that. 

3. They earn enough to be the primary breadwinner, even if that is not their family role.

Supplemental income is awesome. Being able to take your family on vacations and creating lifelong memories together matters. Even paying half the expenses in a dual-income family is great. However, being able to grow a business that generates enough revenue to completely support your family and the families of your employees requires a different skillset (and mindset) than running a business that only provides excellent supplemental income.

4. They spend both quality and quantity time with their families.

Travel is great and goodness knows I've racked up the miles, but at this point in my career I am not interested in learning how to build a business that takes me away from home on a frequent basis. For me both quality time and quantity time are important. 

5. They work smarter and harder. 

They don't claim to make a full-time salary by working "only three days a week" (I automatically nope right out of someone's Instagram page if I see this) but they also don't kill themselves or their team by never allowing their phones to be switched off during lunch. They work hard. They work smart. They rest. They make time for people. And they allow others to do the same.

Originally published April 2017

Improve Your Team's Performance + Increase Your Profits

Bella Bridesmaids' annual retreat for their franchise owners

Bella Bridesmaids' annual retreat for their franchise owners

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping companies improve their team's performance and increase their profits by providing training and strategic insight to their staff during their annual retreats. 

In the wedding industry, most annual retreats often happen during the months of November - February, at the end of the year after the October rush of weddings, or in the first two months before the new year truly gets underway. Both seasons give business owners a chance to give their teams the opportunity to relax and further bond as a team, review what worked and what didn't over the past year, and set a strategic plan for the year to come.

I highly recommend making time for an annual retreat, whether you have a team or not. If you're a solopreneur, even just taking a weekend by yourself at a hotel or AirBnB 90 minutes away can help you disconnect from your familiar routine so that you can spend some focused time on setting goals and planning how you will successfully achieve them next year.

If you are looking to bring in outside expertise to your retreat, I'd love to help. I've personally trained thousands of wedding, event, tourism, and hospitality industry pros from around the world over the years and lead strategic sessions for annual retreats for multiple companies each year. 

Because it's August, people are busy finalizing details for Q4 of 2018, including their end of the year retreats. If you're interested in strategic guidance, team training, leadership development, or giving your staff a deeper dive into the topics you may have heard me speak on at a conference, you can drop me a line here. I'd love to chat with you.

The One Area You Should Be Less Efficient In, Starting Today

"The people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work muchmuch harder.” – Malcolm Gladwell

The one thing that almost every wedding professional can do to immediately improve their customer service and brand positioning?

Stop sending automated email replies.

This is especially true if you work in the luxury market. 

High-end means high touch. The saying, “Work smarter not harder” is well-intentioned, but the fact of the matter is that if you want to command a higher fee for your services, you will need to work both smarter and harder. If you want to position yourself as a high-end brand that understands the nuances of the luxury client, you have to put in the actual effort. You have to actually “touch.” 

Here’s some tough love: automated and canned replies may help you feel more organized and efficient behind the scenes, but they make you look cold and uncaring. 

I’m willing to bet that when you wrote out your core values and mission statement for your business and marketing plans, “cold” and “uncaring” were not traits you included as wanting to be known as. 

Yet thousands of wedding professionals are actively branding themselves as such in the name of efficiency. 

The first name mail merge and seemingly personalized, “Hi, how are you?” greetings don’t fool anyone. Nobody likes receiving automated emails. They’re like receiving unsigned holiday cards in that they convey to the recipient that they are nothing more than a checkmark you need to tick on your to-do list, and not someone you actually care about. 

Tighten corners elsewhere in your business. When it comes to client communication, it is much better to do things the long, hard, stupid way. 

Your advantage is that most of your competitors will read this, roll their eyes, and continue to automate everything. Let them. Focus on yourself and your own company and step up your game.

People almost always hire the person who makes them feel the best from the very beginning of the process. Be the person who’s willing to sacrifice a little bit of efficiency in order to make people feel truly valued, heard, and connected.

PS: Since telling people that you'll reply to them within 48 hours is seen by most potential brides and grooms as too long to wait, you can use tools like IFTTT or Zapier to send you a push notification or text message when you get a new inquiry. This way you or a team member can reply quickly while still maintaining whichever boundaries you’ve set around the rest of your inbox.