Wedding planners have a term for high-maintenance clients—bridezillas. While most brides-to-be are wonderful to work with, some cross the line by constantly berating vendors or making unreasonable demands.
Every industry has its own “bridezillas”, and you’ve probably already encountered them. Here are some tips wedding planners use to keep their customers calm when the pressure is on.
Weed out the bridezillas
The first way to handle bridezillas/high-maintenance clients is to not take them on in the first place. Wedding planners look for red flags before taking on a new customer. Rude behavior in your initial meeting is an obvious indicator of a difficult client, as is an immediate focus on price. If the client is only concerned about low costs, then they may not see the value in your product or services.
Does the client have a low budget and high expectations? Does she immediately try to cross professional boundaries by calling at off hours or asking you to do work off the clock? Does she ignore your concerns? If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a moment to consider if you really want to add this client to your roster. One way to politely decline business is to price yourself out of her range and refer her to another business.
Get it in writing
Maybe you really need the money or the demanding client was cunning enough to pass your smell test. Fear not—there are other ways to protect yourself. The first thing to do is outline expectations in your contract.
Wedding planners establish multiple price tiers and are very clear about what is covered in each package. Work that falls outside the set rate incurs extra costs. Make sure your contracts are specific on your standard pricing and also include information about how you charge for overtime or revisions.
Be the voice of reason
We’ve seen enough reality shows on TLC to know how bad a bridezilla can get. Similarly, some of your clients will hurl insults, pout, shout, or throw a temper tantrum. Don’t come down to their level—never resort to name-calling or raising your voice to match their behavior. Inhale, exhale and then proceed to deconstruct their fears. Lashing out is generally a result of stress, and understanding your client’s behavior will get you further than mirroring it.
Be in a position to walk away
The most demanding bridezilla can sap the physical and emotional strength out of the most intrepid wedding planner. Unfortunately, if one client dominates your schedule, your other clients will feel the neglect.
Diversify your client portfolio enough that you can part ways with your most demanding client at any time. This is hard when you’re a hungry entrepreneur, but it’s healthier for your startup in the long run. Don’t think of it as quitting as much as doing smart business. The client will either find someone else to badger or return to you with more reasonable expectations.