Handfasting, Hilarious Requests & “Working It Out”
We live in a world of “pitches.” Everyone is selling something these days. One of my neighbors invited me to a party selling high end makeup a few weeks ago and as a neighbor, I felt obligated to attend but didn’t feel obligated to buy or stay. Why? Because the host wasn’t my neighbor and she was also fairly rude.
Enjoying a conversation with the lady next to me at this makeup party, we were both continuously interrupted by the “sales pitch” of the woman running the show telling everyone present to effectively “shut up and listen” to her. She didn’t want the guests to enjoy meeting new friends or enjoying the party. She wanted our attention focused on her and more importantly, what she was selling. My neighbor is a nice lady who had been sucked into a selling pyramid.
To say more than a few of us were uncomfortable at that “party” would be an understatement. In fact, many of us took the back door to leave in the middle of the presentation. High pressure sales make everyone uncomfortable.
Hard selling to others is ineffective for a number of reasons but mainly because the person pitching a product either intentionally fails to bother attempting to establish a relationship with their target market or worse, has no idea how to build “brand value.”
I’ve been in sales all of my life and I’ve never “pushed anyone into buying” anything while consistently outselling my fellow coworkers. How? Because I listen to what my client is interested in. I’ve never been pushy and I’ve never sold anything that I would not buy myself. I buy quality. I have also sold high quality items for many years and have owned many of the products I sold. I believed in the products enough to invest in them myself and I also knew every aspect of every product I’ve ever sold or represented.
It’s rare to find anyone knowledgeable these days about the brand they are selling. Why? Because big box stores have become the norm. Online selling has run smaller competitors right out of business but, is buying online or not dealing with a knowledgeable salesperson actually a real buying experience? Not for me. I prefer brick and mortar stores. I prefer people and interaction. I prefer to shop local. I also prefer to buy with someone I trust.
Investing in something is far more valuable to me than buying throw away products. I could afford to buy the products my neighbor was selling and chose not to because I don’t enjoy being bullied into buying anything by the other woman “running the show.” If I like the product and the rep, I’m far more inclined to have an interest in buying the product. If I don’t like the seller, I’m not interested in buying.
My key to successful selling was that I never rushed or pushed a client to buy. They could take it or leave it and my lifestyle wouldn’t change one way or another.
Selling high end products was my specialty. Buy it once and enjoy it a lifetime. The times have changed though and these days everyone “wants a bargain.” Throw away furniture has taken the place of timeless but far more expensive pieces. Throw away makeup costing hundreds of dollars with broken promises of youth, glamour and more has gained a wide variety of sellers who not only want you to buy their products but also to sell them too? Thanks but no thanks. I have no interest or time to “push products for others” and I don’t.
My years in sales and marketing along with my experience created an opportunity to work as a consultant on top of my numerous other responsibilities but, consulting is done strictly at my own convenience and not that of anyone else.
Social media marketing has become somewhat of a phenomenon but, is it effective? Everyone is on the “social media marketing bandwagon” however, if you aren’t generating actual clients by hiring a social media manager are you investing money or wasting it? Interacting with your audience is key to retaining them. If someone else is doing that for you, you lose the opportunity to build a relationship.
Personally speaking, I’m opposed to direct marketing or advertising because the best referral money can buy cannot be bought. What is it? A referral from a happy client. Referrals are and always will be the best way to earn and expand your business but earning a referral or building a brand are based entirely on your clients experience with you. Listen to what clients want and find a way to deliver.
Putting forth more effort or time isn’t easy but, it’s essential to building a relationship. My clients are not numbers. They are people who needed a service and trusted me or my staff to provide it.
It’s not rocket science to establish a relationship. Instead, it’s common sense. Pushy salespeople push people away.
Occasionally, even prospective clients can be pushy. I refuse to be stretched to far and spread myself thin because existing clients always take priority. This morning while reviewing a request from someone in Tyler, Texas, I nearly laughed about the description of what the client “thought was needed from me” and how conveniently he downplayed driving nearly two hours one way to “accomplish the task of officiating a wedding to a fifteen minute quote of my time.”
I’m often asked “why do you PREFER officiating prison weddings?” The reason is that my TDCJ Clients are almost always more considerate of my time and travel when “traditional clients” aren’t. “We will begin seating around 4pm. The ceremony could begin at 4:15 and we only need you (the minister) for the wedding ceremony. The ceremony could probably be completed by 4:30. We need a quote for fifteen minutes of your time.”
Hmmm, fifteen minutes? I decided that rather than elaborate on the actual amount of time I spend preparing my ceremony and driving to and from the venue which would actually take at least 5 and a half hours of “my time” to decline this request since 1. It’s on July 4th a holiday that includes a holiday fee and 2. The prospect obviously assumed that they are entitled to give me a timeline on officiating their ceremony without bothering to consider that I’m located in Fort Worth.
I regularly turn down 11th hour requests. Normally, these prospects hired someone else and the “someone else” backed out leaving them in a bind. By the time they contact Texas Twins Events, they are frantic and occasionally, demanding. But, we can’t save everyone. Our responsibility lies with those who came to us in the first place. Our booked clients ARE our priority.
I wasn’t interested in working on July 4th as I took the day off this year to celebrate my twin sisters anniversary and spend time with my family and have no real desire to change my plans to accommodate someone who assumes that fifteen minutes is “all it takes to Officiate a wedding.” It isn’t. I can’t snap my fingers and magically appear at a location.
For people that think officiating a wedding doesn’t take any planning or preparation, news flash, if I don’t know exactly what you want, I ask. Tailoring your ceremony to your needs entails communicating with you.
Sure, there might be someone out there willing to “rush through a ceremony” but, no one on my staff is interested in “drive through service” for your wedding. You shouldn’t be either. Weddings are Life Events.
I haven’t “had to work in years.” I’m picky. I don’t advertise and I have never needed to either. I also don’t allow others to “hitch their horse to my wagon.” If you are a vendor or selling something, find creative ways to do your own marketing and generate clients but please don’t expect me to do your job for you.
This trend of connecting solely to pitch your product isn’t a new approach to selling. It’s similar to cold calling. After all, I know very little about you and if I wanted to buy something, I would research it first. I don’t make buying decisions because someone tells me to.
Wednesday morning, I had been in the parking lot of Willow Lake Event Center waiting on a booked client when yet another prospective call came in. My phone never stops ringing. When it does, there’s a stack of emails.
Answering the call, the prospect said “we need you to Officiate our wedding this Friday.” Needing rather than asking if I’m available? With MY schedule? I laughed. Another I, I, I who hadn’t bothered booking with me and much less signing a contract or paying a deposit? Check. I don’t run off to a booking without getting information, a contract and a deposit. No one in the events industry does.
These types of less than 48 hour notice calls are emergencies to the caller. I don’t have emergencies. “Someone else’s emergency is as welcome as a rattlesnake at a rodeo.”
I explained that “I’m already booked at a rehearsal at Mercado Event Center Friday at 4PM.”
The caller then said “okay then you can make it to Mansfield by 6PM right?” My patience was wearing thin. “A rehearsal can take 1-2 hours. I don’t rush from one client a appointment to the next. It’s very unprofessional to rush a client who booked over a year ago. I also don’t fly a jet and I haven’t given you a bid and don’t have a contract.”
The way this prospect was attempting “to go about this booking” was highly irregular.
Traditionally, clients contact me long before 48 hours prior to their event. I don’t have emergencies or rush other clients in order to accommodate someone (a stranger) contacting me at the 11th hour.
After looking at the timelines, I responded “I can be in Mansfield by 7PM not 6PM as I’m unwilling to rush any client and also I will need to cancel a dinner date with my husband to accommodate YOUR NEEDS.”
I should add that dinner or lunch dates with my husband are rare. We both work 60-70 hours a week and have very busy schedules. Not bothering to enlighten the caller about these details, I continued to find out more information by asking more questions. I ask a lot of questions. “Do you need a photographer? Are you familiar with my fee? What is the address? What is the date on the license? Is the license from a county in Texas?”
The caller first ignored my questions and then began asking someone he was with about the address before telling me “I will have to call you back.” He doesn’t know the address? Was this a crank call?
It’s now Friday and another prospect has booked me for a Baptism at 6:30PM tonight which will work perfectly with my dinner date by meeting my husband at 7:30 a few minutes from the church tonight.
I don’t “hold” appointments for anyone. If you haven’t booked me, you aren’t a client.
If you are having an emergency or have waited until the 11th hour to find an Officiant, I suggest going to the JP.
It’s not free to have a JP Officiate your wedding either. It’s $100. The fee went up last year.
The JP also has a busy schedule. If you are planning a wedding WITHOUT AN OFFICIANT, you aren’t planning a legal wedding.
This prospective client caller must have assumed that I was sitting around waiting on his call in order to accommodate his needs, driving who knows where? No address to drive to? The caller had also made an inaccurate assumption regarding my time and my schedule and more importantly, my requirements to book a service.
“”GRATITUDE is the DIFFERENCE between APPRECIATION, and a SENSE of ENTITLEMENT.”
Last night, while working on my Baptism ceremony, a call from Ken came in regarding “helping him get on staff at Belltower since you’ve been with them for years.”
Thinking “this should be interesting” I closed my Bible to listen to reasons why I would be promoting someone I don’t know to a venue I’ve been on staff at for years.
Well, at least Ken had done some research. He was also calling me while I was busy working on my baptism ceremony from my home office with a full Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday ahead of me.
Having other people contact me to “find or generate income FOR THEM” continues to annoy and astound me. I’ve spent hours telling venue owners who effectively “dropped a dime one me” how to write blogs, and also how to promote others on social media in order to get others to promote them but, I don’t have hours to tell you how to do your job. No one does. I now charge a consulting fee to anyone wishing to “pick my brain” to promote their business. No more 1-2 hour phone calls wasting my efforts to help a stranger just because they decided to call me and butt into my day for me. It’s saved me hours and hours of time I can assure you.
Ken wanted me to pitch him and his services? Had he googled my phone number or found it on my site? Who knows but my office hours don’t extend past 6PM.
What could folks like Ken be thinking while sitting around their home comfortably and suddenly deciding to call me and effectively put “their monkey on my back attempting to make their problems mine?” One has to wonder.
Ken had called me after 8PM and more importantly, the call was at Ken’s convenience rather than my own. My evening hours during the week are the only time my husband and I have together.
Unless you happen to be a client, my home time after 5PM is important to me. Disruptions from other vendors or sales calls are the last thing I want to deal with at the end of a long day. I could do without sales calls or pitches ALL DAY EVERYDAY to be honest.
Since I was already disrupted from what I had been doing, I decided to educate Ken regarding Belltower’s policy of donating 70% of the vendors fee to ACH. This information surprised Ken who knew nothing about Belltower.
I also explained to Ken that my posted fee of $300 at Belltower actually only nets me $100. Two hundred is donated to ACH. Ken was shocked by this important aspect of being a vendor with Belltower. ACH owns Belltower.
Ken then switched from “that idea” and asked me to add him to my preferred vendor list instead while suggesting I refer all of my clients to book HIS services.
Hmm, how nice that Ken assumes everyone else should do HIS marketing FOR him. I’ve had venue owners suggest the same thing over and over to me.
“You can’t PROFIT from the HARVEST if you weren’t there to PLANT the CROPS.”
I don’t market myself or my staff. Why? We don’t need to. Unlike Ken, I’ve never asked someone else to generate clients for myself or my staff either. We work and book solely on referral business.
For years now, I’ve had connection requests on LinkedIn and other sites that after accepting, immediately pitch me on their services.
This type of “connection” is not the way to generate clients for your business. Why not follow others posts and learn more about the connection first? Are they seeking your services? Do you have anything in common with them?
I’m not trying to generate more clients because we are already booked well out with existing clients and literally bump new requests on a regular basis. It’s not uncommon for clients to move their their date to accommodate our schedule. Yes, we are THAT busy.
Explaining to Ken that my preferred vendors are partners who share backlinks with Texas Twins Events, Ken said “well, I can promote your business on my site.” I don’t need more clients but went to Ken’s site and as my web designer is well aware, noted that the site wasn’t to the high standards of our other preferred and trusted vendors.
I’m cautious about backlinks and don’t allow comments on any of my sites due to spam. Why would I promote someone I haven’t worked with? End answer? I wouldn’t. Calling me at night during wedding season to convince me is probably not the right time to do so either.
Ken was pretty pushy and has also consistently commented on my LinkedIn posts by adding his site information to direct my audience to his business. Ironically, Ken follows my posts but isn’t a connection.
Ken sells a service that provides doves at weddings and memorials. Not all of my clients and in fact none have asked me to refer such a service to them.
The one time a client had doves at their wedding was a disaster because several of the birds died causing alarm to the children and horror to the couple. No one wants to see birds die on their wedding day.
Marketing or generating leads or bookings for someone who is not affiliated with me who assumes “my clients need their services” is fairly surprising to me and also, somewhat arrogant.
If my clients want a service, they ask who I suggest. I suggest my preferred vendors of course or a venue I’m affiliated with.
Ken needs to find a better way to market his business because it won’t be on my back. I don’t push my clients to do anything. I listen to their needs and offer suggestions.
For years now, other vendors have contacted me to “send them my clients.” The vendors contacting me often fail to realize that my clients are almost always at a venue I’m on staff at and if they aren’t, have hired me as a Planner and Officiant to find them the best deal on a venue rental with a venue I trust to fit their criteria.
If I don’t know you or haven’t worked with you, the last thing I’m going to do is suggest my client book with you.
Referrals can bite you but, when I refer a client, I know who you are and trust that you will take care of my client. Trust is earned and not “given” by me.
Bouncing my clients to you or your services simply because they asked? Come on. You don’t start a business and expect others (running their own businesses) to send YOU their clients in this industry.
Such crazy proposals would be similar to a rival builder and developer calling my husband and asking him to send his clients to them. See where I’m going here? My husband upon hearing the conversation with Ken from the den used this description with me.
I reminded my husband of the buyer who bought our last home after talking with Ken. My husband was the builder and developer of The Estates of Lakeside. We built our oversized home at cost and could afford to effectively sell under market. But, the buyer should have read her contract. I was never going to “throw in” my furniture because she wanted me to.
The buyer wanted my O.W. Lee patio furniture, bar stools, Baroque antique furniture and more. The problem? The buyer didn’t ask for a price. “I want that and this and that” was hilarious to me since most people including her would have no idea that the double chaise by the pool with coordinating club chairs and ottomans cost $6k.
Listing the furniture I couldn’t take with us at Texas Twins Treasures, I found a buyer in Austin who paid me $4,300 for the O.W. Lee patio furniture in excellent condition that had also held its value. Quality never goes out of style. The bar stools I kept for my new home and the Baroque set were sold to a buyer from San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s expensive. The right buyer needs the right seller. I am that seller. If I’ve sold to you before, you refer your friends to me. I’m honest and earn my clients through trust.
When the buyer for our other home came to pick up the keys, she was upset the furniture was gone. “Where are all the pieces I told you I wanted?” I laughed and said “the pieces you wanted others were willing to pay for and did. I sold them. Telling me you want something without asking how much it is is similar to asking me for an apple and expecting me to bake you a pie. We sold you the house at $78k under fair market value. You got a helluva deal and we aren’t fire selling or much less throwing in our furniture. No one gave that furniture to us. You can use all of the money you saved on this house to go buy more furniture. I’m happy to tell you where we had bought our furniture but can assure you that they won’t give it to you either.” The buyer thought she could just point to what she wanted and she couldn’t. No one can. If you want something, expect to pay for it.
Narcissistic people will always expect others to “give them the shirt off their back.” Such requests and/or demands are Not My Luggage-Not My Trip.
“You cannot climb the ladder of success on someone else’s back. Those steps must be taken alone.”
My Saturday wedding features Handfasting. The popularity of this type of ceremony is really taking off. I love creative input from clients. Asking questions gives me far more information to give the client the ceremony they really want.
Many clients save the rope and put it in a shadow box as a memento of their ceremony. Brokk and Ruben chose a beautiful purple and gold corded ribbon for their ceremony.
At their rehearsal, we walked through what to expect together during the Handfasting portion of the wedding ceremony. Traditionally, I suggest the ring exchange after the Handfasting ceremony to give me an opportunity to gently slide the loosely tied rope from my clients hands. Since many may be unaware of this type of ceremony and wonder “what Handfasting is?” Handfasting is a rural folkloric and neopagan custom, initially found in western European countries, in which a couple hold a commitment ceremony.
The commitment may be seen as temporary and secular, or of a longer, spiritual variety, depending on the context.Over the years, I’ve had many couples opt for a Unity Candle or Unity Sand Ceremony as well as Hand Blessing, Arras Coin and other unique elements.
Incorporating special requests into a traditional religious or non religious ceremony is why each and every one of my ceremonies are unique.
I customize each wedding ceremony I Officiate to the couples needs, wants or desires. No two are alike. Why? Because no two clients are alike.
I’ve never used a “standard script” for a wedding ceremony because no couple I’ve ever married was considered generic to me and subsequently, their ceremony was as unique as they are. I realize such attention to detail is rare is this industry however, I am different and determined to make each and every Dream Event special for my clients.
My Texas Twins Events Team aka my staff will also ask numerous questions at client meetings to ensure that the clients needs are a priority. I’ve trained everyone on my staff personally to put the clients needs first.
There’s good reason that we are so sought after and the reason is that exceeding clients expectations can and will bring you new clients through referrals. If you treat every client like your first client, you will earn a stellar reputation of addressing your clients needs. Listen to what they want. If you pay attention to what’s important to them, you can deliver.
No one puts as much effort and attention to detail for clients as my staff and I do. At prices they can afford? You bet. Loaned floral designs, tiaras, fascinators and more? Absolutely.
We also have ring pillows, flower baskets and anything else our clients might need to make their Dream Event a reality. I’ve created an extensive inventory specifically for my clients benefit as a courtesy.
Shocked? Don’t be. Exceeding my clients expectations is why we continue to rebrand and expand year after year without ever paying for advertising. We do what no one else will because we treat our clients the way we would like to be treated when buying a service or product ourselves. Ken had taken the time to go through my websites and had told me his fee structures for memorials and weddings since “I’ve noticed you offer a wide array of services that my company could help you with.” I don’t need any help. I use the same vendors for memorials that I call on for weddings. If a request comes up for doves, I’m happy to refer Ken but I won’t be pitching every client on a service they may not want or even need. I never upsell my clients.
Whether it’s rental options or a local florist or caterer, I’ve never changed my preferred vendors unless of course, someone has retired. My friends and preferred vendors are the fabric of my life as are my clients. The number of questions regarding my client bases continue to roll in. From questions about LBGT Weddings to questions about Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Weddings or County Jails or even barter client through The Pawning Planners, we have the widest array of clients from every walk of life that anyone has ever heard of.
I do understand how someone new to one of our sites might be shaking their head about the variety of all of our clients. Our client bases are a melting pot from every background there is.
Rich or poor, interracial, incarcerated, bartering their service, you name it and we can address it. Our clients are unique and special. Their event service is specifically catered to fit them.
When I started Texas Twins Events, my goal was to make Event Services affordable to anyone. People over profit had never been attempted in this industry. But, I didn’t have to work and because I didn’t have to earn a living, learned every aspect of this industry. I helped people no one else was willing to help.
I once had someone tell me “your clients can’t afford to hire me.” He was a cake designer. Ironically, a number of our clients can afford whatever they want because all of our clients aren’t bartering.
Many of our clients are affluent and would’ve laughed at someone suggesting they couldn’t afford a few hundred dollars on a cake. Instead, I laughed and hired another vendor on my clients behalf.
A few years after Texas Twins Events was founded, it became apparent that a few people had no money at all. To change this, I rebranded and expanded by merging Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins Events to create The Pawning Planners. This barter option gave clients who didn’t have funding an opportunity to enjoy a Dream Event.
Pawning Planners Clients use free locations for their event including parks and backyards, parking lots and other no cost locations. I bring loaned bouquets, bouteniers, a photographer and other items with me to ensure that their event looks just as “pulled together” as any other clients event would. I loan these items as a courtesy.
This way, clients bartering don’t encounter the expenses involved to provide items on their own.
Traditional clients can borrow inventory but normally provide their own. It’s an option for all of our clients to borrow my inventory. I can either make or create custom colors or purchase floral designs to pull an event together. Normally, I create my own designs but, in a pinch, I will buy them and re use them at other clients Events down the road.
“How did you get into the Prison wedding business? Do you do LBGT prison weddings too?” I was asked to Officiate a Prison wedding a few years after starting The Pawning Planners. I decided to rebrand and expand Texas Twins Events to include TDCJ Prison Weddings. The scheduling of prison weddings fit perfectly into my existing schedule. I enjoyed turning up my radio and burning up the freeway with Cindy by my side headed to a Texas Prison.
The freedom of not being stuck driving to a venue or client meeting and ability to hit junk shops along the way was the fringe benefit of expanding to address inmate weddings.
Prison weddings are generally scheduled Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, Thursday’s and occasionally on Friday’s. My traditional bookings take place on evenings and weekends. TDCJ Weddings literally fit perfectly into my schedule.
Yes, I also Officiate LBGT Prison Weddings and have a large portion of LBGT clients through Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners and TDCJ Officiant bookings.“Do your Prison wedding clients always wear wedding dresses?” No. The unit and visitation dress code prevent most of my clients from wearing wedding dresses.
“A lot of your businesses have the word twin in them. You’re a twin and work with your sister on a daily basis. How many twins are in your family?” For over a hundred years now, every other generation of my family on both sides has been gifted with multiples.
My grandfather was a twin, Cindy and I are twins and Cindy’s granddaughters, Maryssa and Makenna are twins. We are a twin family.
“Did you think an idea to create a People Over Profit based business would take off the way it has for you years ago?” No. But, I didn’t start Texas Twins Events to be overbooked. I started it to help anyone.
We rebranded and expanded over and over due to creative requests. When someone needed something, we put our heads together and found a solution for them.
Cindy and I didn’t have a mother. We didn’t have parents to help us plan or afford our weddings. We became the people we had never met. Our clients are family to us. What made us different also made us sought after…. we cared when others wouldn’t and because of this, we created a unique opportunity to help anyone from any background enjoy a Dream Event.