With weddings back in full force and probably with a calendar full of postponements to look forward to next year, you're probably going to be pretty busy over the next 12 months. So we thought this was a good place to remind you that you don't need to say yes to everything.
Small businesses often feel pressure to 1, please, 2, make sure they take every job they can and 3, overwork themselves until they reach critical burnout and then have to take longer time off than they would have ever anticipated.
We don't want you to get to that point so we're sharing with you our top reasons for saying “no” to jobs and how you can politely do so. Taking on clients who don't fit with your values or overall business objectives can have a detrimental impact on your brand. Have faith in the brand you have built. Saying no to a client that's not right for you will only strengthen everything you've worked so hard for.
when you should say no
1. The wedding doesn't inspire you
It's ok to not be inspired or excited about every wedding brief that lands in your inbox. Each and every wedding is unique in its own right. You know that our ethos is Your Day Your Way and rightly so. And so naturally that means you're going to get enquiries that don't suit you. Maybe you've been asked to shoot a woodland wedding but you don't have the experience, don't like bugs, feel like shooting in the height of summer and being exposed to the sun all day just doesn't work for you. Whatever category of supplier you fall into, if you're not inspired by the couple's vision for their day or their journey/story, you're probably not the right supplier for them and an alternative supplier would likely give and take more from the whole experience.
2. You already have too much on
Remember that overwhelm that I mentioned? It's really important to set yourself enough time for breaks. If you can realistically achieve 50 weddings a year; delivering everything on time and to the quality that is expected, then that's great. But don't then 'make space' for an extra 5 weddings that you know will push you way out of what is comfortable and safe for you to fulfil. It's unfortunate that those couples will miss out on your expertise but your mental (and physical) health comes before anything. So take care of it.
3. You don't have the skills
Coming out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself is really important for growth and development. No one wants to go day to day not learning anything. We all want to develop new skills and stretch ourselves - but not at the cost of the most important day of someone's life - and not at the detriment of our reputations. If that brief is looking like a bit of a stretch - maybe it's too much in terms of the skill level required or the time it will take vs what availability you have - say no to it. We don't learn by staying safe but if it feels a bit too risky, make sure you've got all the facts, a clear brief and are certain that you are able to completely smash it out of the proverbial park before agreeing.
4. The client can't afford it
This is a friendly reminder not to devalue yourself. You've set your prices (probably too low in the first place) so under no circumstances should you be discounting your rate card. When you do that you are devaluing your brand, your skills and everything you've worked so hard for. Know your worth. Maintain your worth. And don't accept anything less. At times you may feel you're desperate for work but taking that client on at a lesser rate means they tell their friend who tells their friend and then suddenly the next handful of enquiries you get are all quoting a figure that is way below your deserved fee.
5. A note on styled shoots
If you can't put in the same level of time and effort as the other suppliers on a collaborative shoot then don't do it. Without full buy-in and collaboration, these shoots can be incredibly difficult to pull off and everyone involved is relying on everyone else to make it a worthwhile effort. And the above 4 points apply to collaborative shoots too. If you're not into the concept, you don't have the time to commit, you can't see what you can add or you can't afford to take the time to work for free, then say no. Everyone will thank you for it in the long run.
Saying no leads to an invigorating sense of control over our businesses and the value that we have to offer.
How to say no
1. Be clear on your why. Often your gut reaction (or overflowing calendar) alone will be enough to go on as to why you can't/don't want to accept a wedding enquiry. Or it may take a little more time to click. Perhaps after the initial consultation, it's become clear that your way of working and what the couple's expectations are don't align. Whatever the reason, be clear in your mind.
2. Be timely. Set expectations about when couples who enquire can expect to hear back from you. Set an auto-responder on your emails so they know when to expect to hear from you. And whatever you do, don't ignore enquiries. Even if you can't fulfil the requests.
3. Be gracious. Thank the couple for their time in enquiring. It's an honour to even be considered to take part in their big day - out of the hundreds of potential suppliers they could approach.
4. Be honest. Your practices and what they expect don't align. Your schedule doesn't allow for you to take on any more work at that time. You can't reduce your rates. Whatever your reasoning is, be upfront and respectful.
5. Be clear. There's no need to beat around the bush. It's important to make it clear that you are declining the couple's request. If you do this in a gracious and honest way then there should be no confusion.
6. Recommend a fellow supplier. Do you know someone else in the industry that would be better suited to the job? Recommend them and you'll find that in turn, when those suppliers also have jobs they can't fulfil, your name will come up.
When we say yes it can lead to a lot of unexpected opportunities or surprises. But so can saying no. When we say no we get a boost of self-confidence. An invigorating sense of control over our businesses and the value that we have to offer.