Jennifer started her event management company in 1993 and at the age of 29 was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year. She had only been in business four years and was the youngest, only female at the time. Jennifer’s advice is priceless and can be executed in any industry – not just event planning. Her unstoppable drive has nothing to do with the money but fueled by a traumatic event that changed her life forever.
I started Save The Date to help people celebrate and enjoy life’s greatest moments. This became my personal mission and calling after I was attacked and brutally stabbed at the age of 22. After months of recovery, I was determined to lock my secret away and pour my soul into my work. I kept quiet about this event for 21-years until sharing it in my recent book, I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag.
I started the business as a one-woman operation with nothing but a chair and a telephone. Without help from outside investors, I didn’t take a paycheck for five years. I took what I needed to live, but put everything else back into the business to hire employees, expand office space and install computer systems. Those re-investments into the business probably totaled more than $100,000.
Corporations and non-profits typically don’t have the budget to hire an outside event planning company so I saw an opportunity for a new business model – a referral or matchmaking service – connecting planners to the best locations and vendors. The service is free for planners – vendors and locations pay a service fee or monthly retainer. This new business model has been key to our high-revenue growth and overtime, our clients outsourced all aspects of the event planning to us because of the level of service we delivered.
First, your business has to be able to expand and contract with the current market. We’ve come up with different business models and have always stayed lean in terms of employees. We used to have offices in 5 different cities but have downsized to our physical location in NYC with virtual teams in cities everywhere.
I’ve never advertised or worked with a PR firm. The two things that have worked very well for us have been word of mouth and cold calling. There’s no need to buy sales lists – our clients provide us with our biggest sales leads. We ask them “who else should we be calling?” and their always eager to offer up 2 or 3 names but you have to ask. Or if I see an article about an event Save The Date should be helping with – I call and ask for a meeting.
BizBash is a must to attend for new ideas, meet top vendors and get the scoop on new spaces.
COPE, Council of Protocol Executives, is a non-profit dedicated to bringing together high-level event professionals to network and access Premier vendors.
One is a saying I live by…Outsource everything but your soul. Focus on what your insanely good at and outsource the rest to those who have a passion for it and can do it better than you.
The big thing that really separates us from the competition is the proprietary client management platform we built to centralize all the details and characteristics of each event down to what the CEO likes to drink and special food requests. This information empowers us with the knowledge to deliver an unforgettable experience to our clients and attendees alike. It also opens up opportunities for cross-selling and repeat clients because we have all the critical details noted for the next event.