Working for friends can be the worst experience in the world. Deals are struck, favours are promised, and then one wants more out of the arrangement than was bargained for. Things end in an ugly fashion, with both parties unsure if the friendship survived. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Sure, it works out okay sometimes, but in many cases, lifelong friendships are put in jeopardy over an attempt between friends to do business together. (And don’t even get me started on working with family!)
But what happens when you start out as strangers and then become friends throughout the business transaction? What might this look like? In a different twist to the first scenario I described, I would like to offer an alternate reality…a possibility that has become the everyday world where I live and work.
In a recent post I shared that one of my goals with every wedding is to blur the line between guests wondering if I’ve been hired or if I am a family friend or relative of the wedding couple. In an effort to make that happen, one of the tools I employ is to become a sincere friend to the couples I am working with. I work to cultivate something deeper than a surface level business arrangement represented by the agreement we’ve both signed.
But I’m not talking about pretending to become their friend. It’s not something I’ll simply “act” my way through on wedding day. No, I am talking about a sincere REALationship (tip of the hat to Mark Ferrell for that word). Something real and authentic as if I’ve been the grooms buddy since grade 1 and the bride’s first cousin since forever. Like the co-worker the groom has been having beers with on Friday nights for the past 10 years, or a friend of the bride’s that she met in college and keeps up with through Instagram and Snapchat. THAT kind of relationship.
Taking on this mindset has provided me with the following mantra: Clients always hire me, but if I’ve done my job right, I only end up working for friends.
From the initial consult, through to the planning meetings, the phone calls, text messages and emails, this mantra lives in each moment of communication I have with my wedding couples. It dictates everything about how I answer, discuss, inspire, challenge and encourage them with the details for their big day. The benefits to creating such a relationship are endless…
You will enjoy each other’s company more.
You will understand each other more.
You will collaborate more.
They will value your services more.
Their wedding party will be excited to meet you.
Their parents will say “Oh! We’ve heard so much about you!”
You won’t get pushed into the corner.
The other vendors will respect you.
The party will be incredible.
According to the 2016 Global Wedding Market Report from Splendid Insights, the possibility of becoming friends with their vendors holds a high level of importance for many wedding couples. When asked “How important is the possibility of becoming friends with the wedding professionals you hire?” a full 10% answered Very Important. An additional 33% said it wasn’t a priority, but it did matter. Combined, that represents nearly half of all wedding couples surveyed.
My goal is to find that 10%, but my job is made easier knowing that an additional 33% are open to the idea.
I do everything in my power to create real, authentic and sincere friendships with my wedding couples. With some of those couples, the friendship extends long after the wedding as well.
My suggestion today is about adopting a slight shift in relationship mindset with the wedding couples you work with. It involves taking on the responsibility of your relationship with the wedding couple as a friend would, and yet, maintaining a solid working relationship at the same time.
Some of the friendships will be closer and more intimate than others. But know that this is a really wonderful and worthwhile experience for everyone involved. And, you won’t have to work as hard to stay top of mind after the wedding, because now you are friends.
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6 thoughts on “I Only Work for Friends”
I often tell my bridal clients that I work ‘with’ not ‘for’ them. Reaching out to friend them on FB is almost always reciprocated. Years later, I see their babies grow and congratulate them with life events. Keep up the great blog.
Very great David! I’ve written on that subject as well and couldn’t agree more with you! Here are my thoughts, very specifically, about the “with” v.s. “for” idea: http://adjthought.com/2014/09/do-you-work-for-or-with-your-clients/
Thanks Dave another great Blog! Our work bears witness to profoundly intimate moments. Because of that we can connect on a much deeper level I completely aGRI ha ! You should do a work shop on this Dave. All the little points that connect the dots so your not just guy in the corner.
Thank you Rob. I appreciate your feedback!
Looking back the shows I enjoyed the most were ones where this REALationship happened. And the ones that I did not enjoy so much the clients were closed to the idea, and of course to many of my ideas in general. Another great post Dave, keep writing!
Thank you Sam.