If it’s always been your dream to launch a wedding business, a consultancy franchise may be your best opportunity to do so. However, starting a franchise requires a great deal of dedication and commitment. If you think you’ve got what it takes, have a look at our handy guide on how to open your own franchise unit in the wedding sector.
Wedding consultant jobs
In the wedding industry, there is a large variety of roles and positions. Individuals can become wedding consultants, responsible for the organisation of the entire day, or specialise in a particular field. For instance, you could decide to build a business that provides wedding photography services or concentrate on venue preparation and decoration.
You shouldn’t come to your final decision without careful consideration, as you’ll need to match your chosen position to your skillset. A wedding consultant needs to be sociable, organised and equipped with excellent communication skills. On the other hand, a photographer must have camera skills and the ability to position subjects well and build a portfolio of work quickly to market themselves to new clients.
It’s also important to have a passion for the role you choose. Starting your own wedding consultancy business requires a great deal of commitment, and if you lack enthusiasm for the work, it becomes much more difficult.
What does it take to become a successful wedding consultant?
As a wedding consultant, you’ll be discussing ideas with clients, organising logistics and negotiating prices with suppliers, planning themes and décor, and managing events on the day. You’ll must also be able to stick to a budget and maintain regular communication with everyone involved in the day, from the caterers to the venue managers to the happy couple themselves.
As a result, you’ll need a range of different skills if you’re to see success. Most importantly, you’ll need fantastic organisational and time management skills, as well as the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. Being creative, good with money and a skilled communicator will also serve you well. And don’t forget, you’ll need to be able to promote your business and the services it offers if you want consistent work.
If you’ve thought long and hard about the process of starting your own wedding consultancy business and come to the conclusion that it’s the perfect opportunity for you, you’ll need to follow these simple steps to success:
How to start your own wedding consultancy franchise unit
Research your franchise options
First things first, it’s important to explore your options and discover the businesses currently offering franchise opportunities. You can do this by employing the services of a franchise broker, browsing specialist franchising websites, reading trade publications or talking to people already working in the industry.
Networking plays a vital role in marketing suitable opportunities, so you may also find it useful to attend a franchise exhibition or expo. Here, you’ll be able to meet a wide range of franchisors and discuss each business in greater depth. Similarly, it’s a good idea to attend wedding fairs, as you’ll get a better idea of which businesses are doing well in the industry and where to focus your search.
At this point, you shouldn’t narrow down your options too much. Take a broad approach and explore every opportunity – but be selective. If a franchise isn’t right for you, don’t waste your time by continuing to pursue it. Step away and look elsewhere.
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Look into locations
As well as looking into the franchises that are available on a national scale, you should think about where you’d like to base your business and whether your chosen location is suitable. It should be possible to find wedding statistics for specific areas. Information such as how many weddings there are in the region every month and how much people spend on the average wedding there can be useful when it comes to working out whether there’s a large enough market to sustain your franchise.
Some franchises will require you to lease business premises. This could have a significant impact on where you choose to base your franchise unit and could limit your choices. For instance, if you’re based in London, leasing office space may be prohibitively expensive. In this case, you may decide to look for a wedding consultancy franchise that allows its franchisees to operate their business from home.
Talk to franchisors
As you begin to narrow down your choices to just a few franchises, you should start contacting franchisors for further information. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, get to know the franchisor and begin creating a professional bond. The franchisor-franchisee relationship is central to any franchise system, so you need to be sure that you’ll be able to work closely with any franchisor you go into business with.
Once you’ve spoken to a few franchisors, it’s time to corroborate what they’ve told you by contacting their franchisees. Any franchisor with nothing to hide will be more than willing to provide you with the contact information for their franchisees. This gives you the chance to question them about whether the franchisor delivered on all their promises, whether their financial projections for earnings and expenditure were accurate, and how much support they receive from the franchisor and their team.
Perform due diligence
Having done your research and established that the franchisor can be trusted, you’ll need to request detailed financial information that will allow you to carry out the necessary due diligence. Most franchisors will ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you see this information.
Equipped with extra knowledge, you should be able to establish whether the business is a financially viable enterprise. A potential franchisee should have a solid understanding of the company’s competitors, the cost of setting up a new franchise unit, its potential turnover and any changes occurring in the wedding industry as a whole.
Sign the franchise agreement
The final step in setting up your own franchise operation is signing the franchise agreement. However, before you do so, it’s a good idea to ask legal and financial advisors to look over all of your financial projections and legal documents. This will ensure that you don’t agree to a relationship that isn’t mutually beneficial.
When it comes to talking to a legal professional, it’s important to make sure they have experience working with franchisees. Many of the documents you’ll encounter contain terms that are used exclusively in franchising, so it’s vital your advisor understands them if they’re to give you the best advice.
How to start your own wedding consultancy business
Decide what sort of business you want to launch
There are many different types of wedding consultancy, so you’ll need to pick the one that suits you. Ask yourself whether you’d prefer to organise entire weddings, certain elements of weddings in collaboration with other clients, or just help out on the actual day. You could also choose to specialise in a specific type of wedding, such as same-sex marriages and those taking place in a certain location.
There isn’t one standard way to get into wedding consultancy. A dedicated course or apprenticeship should give you all the skills and know-how you’ll need to become a consultant in this field. They’ll test you at the end to make sure you’re fully qualified.
However, you can also take a less conventional route. Why not volunteer in a wedding planning firm or shadow an existing consultant? Or, if you’re already employed as a wedding planner in an agency, you could take advantage of your experience by leaving to start your own.
You won’t need any specific qualifications to start your own wedding consultancy firm, but clients are more likely to use your services if you do have experience and some form of certification.
Write your business plan and get funding
The most successful entrepreneurs lay all their ideas out in a business plan. Here, you should note down where you hope to base your business, how much the launch should cost you, a break-even point, what profit you expect to make once you’re up and running, whether you’ll hire any staff and any other key details.
If you need extra capital to get your company off the ground, you won’t be able to borrow money from official lenders without a solid business plan. They’ll want to see that your venture is viable.
Join a professional organisation such as UKAWP
Becoming affiliated with an official organisation will give clients more reason to trust you and use your services. Consider becoming a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) if you’re based in the UK or Europe, as it’ll give you extra credibility.
Develop a brand and market your business
By this point, you’ll have a good idea of the type of brand you’d like to create. Now is the time to create it. Get the appropriate permits and licences, and create a website. Develop a logo and order branded stationery, merchandise and clothing if required. You could also promote your business by investing in a car wrap, which will raise brand awareness and attract potential customers wherever you go.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©