Maximise the potential of the credit crunch

If you follow the media, you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s all doom and gloom and the credit crunch means small businesses may as well give up now!

The reality is that many wedding businesses are thriving and the current economic situation represents a real opportunity. Although unemployment is rising, many people have more disposable income as low interest rates reduce mortgage payments.

What has changed is people’s attitude to spending. So how is this affecting the wedding market and how can you not only survive but take advantage?

Weddings Market – our predictions

Couples with weddings booked will continue with their plans, although they may cut back. Those who are newly engaged or have not yet set a date may decide to postpone for a couple of years. So 2010 and 2011 may be tougher than 2009 as the number of weddings falls.

Average spend per wedding will fall for the first time in several years.

Brides-to-be will ruthlessly prioritise their spending. They will be happy to spend on the items they consider essential but will cut back on those they deem nice-to-have.

Everyone will be looking for excellent value for money – whether their budget is £4,000 or £400,000 expect couples to shop around carefully for the best deals.

How can you adapt?

Put together a “value” package for your customers: Offering a basic option at an attractive price can help bring in business. You can then use your upselling skills…….

Make the most of the customers you have: Up-selling (converting your customers to buy a more expensive option) and cross-selling (selling them something else as well as the main product) are vital. You are probably already doing this without really thinking about it, but take the time to review what you are doing and actively look for more opportunities. This article gives some useful pointers.

Look for creative, low cost, marketing ideas: Check out the internet – there’s lots of good suggestions out there. Get together with other local wedding or associated vendors and brainstorm ideas.

Stop any marketing activities that aren’t bringing results: The wedding fair that didn’t have a great attendance last year probably won’t do any better this year, so take it off your schedule.

Negotiate hard with suppliers: it may be an old cliche that you make your profit on your buying, not your selling – but it’s a good rule to follow. You should be able to negotiate good rates for advertising and shows, for a start.

Make sure your deposit/cancellation policy is clear and watertight: expect cancellations to rise as couples change plans and/or downsize their weddings. Its frustrating, but ensure you are not out of pocket when it happens.

Remember, doing nothing is not an option – in a shrinking market only the best will survive. But if you are one of those who takes positive action your business will be in top shape to flourish and grow as the recession eases.