By Jennifer Reitmeyer
So, your wedding business is growing and you’re thinking about expanding to the next level: hiring a team, opening a studio, branching out into a new market.
But how do you know when the time is right?
I posed this question to Jennifer Reitmeyer, a 20 year wedding industry veteran. As the owner of multiple businesses — including MyDeejay, an award-winning entertainment company with a team of 9 DJs and the recently relaunched WeddingIQ, providing services and education for wedding professionals — she’s more than proven herself.
She dishes out some invaluable advice, so listen up!
#1 – Expand to increase revenue and fulfill your mission.
The reasoning behind our decision to expand was two-fold, but if I’m being completely honest, the primary reason was to boost our revenue. It’s just common sense that a business makes more money as it sends more talent out into the field.
That said, the second reason for our expansion was because we really believed (and continue to believe) that we do weddings the right way, and the more weddings we were able to service, the more couples would benefit.
#2 – Consider expansion when you have more work than you can book.
Truthfully, I knew it was time to expand was when I found myself turning away inquiries right and left. At one point I could actually visualize dollar bills flying out the window, and believe me, that was beyond frustrating!
A single operator can only take on so many events, so after a couple of years in business we knew we had to start expanding.
#3 – Be the best at what you do and at running a business.
At the time we initially grew MyDeejay into a multi-op business, I was running it with a partner – he was a very active, and brought a great deal of technical expertise to our company. Meanwhile, I came from a more diverse business-focused background, having worked in corporate marketing and communications and having managed teams.
All of these strengths combined really helped to make our business a powerhouse, because we were able to tackle sales and marketing, operations, and our vision and growth with strategy as well as intention.
#4 – Be careful to hire the right team.
I think our biggest mistake was in sort of “flying by the seat of our pants” when it came to choosing, hiring and training DJs for our team.
It sounds crazy in retrospect, but at the time I think we may have believed a little too much in ourselves when it came to our instincts. As a result, we found ourselves giving opportunities to people who weren’t the best fit for our team and our brand.
Fortunately, we avoided any major hiring disasters (and were able to mitigate the few mistakes we made) and eventually developed a comprehensive apprenticeship program.
#5 – Know your brand clearly before building a team.
It’s so important to know your own brand inside and out before you bring other people in to represent that brand.
Be very clear about who you are, what you do, whom you serve, and how you execute your service standards, so that you can communicate this clearly to your team, leaving no room for errors.
I think that, as leaders, we often tend to assume our team members understand our brand and our processes, when in reality it’s our responsibility to train them and to constantly reinforce what our standards are.
#6 – Create an effective process for hiring and training.
I’m a big fan of creating a multi-step process that requires as much of an investment of effort and faith for the new hire as it does for the business.
We like to start by including some very specific requirements in our hiring ads – this helps weed out the people who can’t follow directions and don’t have great attention to detail. Once we invite people to join our apprenticeship program (and we invite very few), the program itself is super-intensive, but it’s also packed with value for those who complete it.
By the time someone’s put in the time, which in the case of our program is almost a year, they’ve become fully immersed in our brand and in our system of doing weddings. They’re now completely integrated into our team, and they tend to want to keep their place!
Of course, earning this kind of loyalty requires that we keep our word to our team members, compensate them fairly, make them feel appreciated, and provide new opportunities for growth.
I’m really proud to say that our DJs have all been with us between 4 and 10 years, and I think we have the most consistent team around.
More Resources For Wedding Pros
I’m incredibly passionate about supporting other wedding business owners. One of the ways I do this is through my WeddingIQ business blog, which has just been relaunched.
We’re rolling out a whole new look, and more importantly, tons of new features, services and other surprises to strengthen the wedding business community and help wedding professionals sharpen their skills in every aspect of business. We’ll still be creating new content throughout the week on our blog; we’re just now backing it up with all kinds of other useful stuff to help our audience have the best experience possible.
Jennifer Reitmeyer is a business coach, speaker and educator who has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. She is the founder of WeddingIQ, featuring blog content and services relevant to wedding professionals, as well as the owner of Firebrand Messaging, a boutique copywriting and business blogging company. In addition, she is the president and owner of MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm in the Washington, DC market. Jennifer considers it her goal and mission to support the success of small business owners and to raise the bar for service and brand integrity within in the wedding industry. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.