The older I get, the more I come to admire my father for his absolute love for life.  Retired and living in Florida, he’s embraced the idea of taking up activities he never had time for, nor an interest in.  Twenty-five plus years my senior, he is far more active than I can ever hope to be.  Biking over 100 miles a week, golfing three times a week and taking trips to countries to do one or the other, he has no shortage of energy at his age.  It’s fair to say that the change I’ve seen in my Dad since retirement is nothing short of inspiring, and I can only hope to get there one day.  What has NOT changed about my dad is his absolute inability to calmly handle a little bit of chaos tossed into his day.  I’m not referring to life altering events, such as a tragic death or a catastrophic loss of home or other personal possessions.  I’m referring to the chaos that can be caused by a light bulb burning out, or an unidentified smell coming from underneath the kitchen sink.  When I was 17 years old, I had a late model Oldsmobile my father purchased so, let’s face it, I wouldn’t touch his car.  As with any vehicle you purchase for $500, it will come with it’s share of troubles.  One such trouble was a recurring leak in the radiator.  One fine summer day, coming back from my job at McDonald’s, I smelled the familiar odor that signaled the leak was back again.  Having ridden this money sucking monster many times, I was already rerouting my course to the mechanic who once again patched the problem as best he could and sent me on my way $75 poorer.  Walking through the door of my home, I greeted my father and said, “By the way, the Cutlass was leaking fluid again…”, and then the room went white!  In the course of 37 seconds, my highly animated and agitated father ranted on about cancelling a dentist appointment for the next day so we can get this fixed…where was this money coming from…who knows if we will get an appointment to get it fixed….if I have to drive you to work it’s going to throw off my entire schedule…and something about the girl I was dating at the time, and this being her fault for me not paying attention.   When my father took a breathe, still stomping around the room and sighing quite angrily, I softly whispered, “It’s already fixed and I used the money from my last paycheck”.  To this day, I wonder what was going on inside my Dad’s head when he slowly walked away and never mentioned the incident again.  Having a 19 year old daughter, I now realize that is the reaction bred into my family when we know we are wrong, but cannot admit such to our offspring lest they think us weak!

In fairness to my Dad, we’ve all been there and had the occasional five star nutty reaction to the smallest of problems.  Ever walk out your front door to go to work and find you have a flat tire?  Spilled coffee on your outfit while driving to an important meeting?  Get to work and remember you left the garage door open?  All small problems, but all capable of sending us into a sheer chaotic frenzy because of the unanticipated nature of it all.  Going back to the flat tire, if you had known in advance there was a possible issue with your tire that could pop up, you drive around with an air pump, secure a membership in Triple A, or schedule an appointment for repair/replacement long before an issue crops up.  In other words, you leave room for the possibility that chaos will ensue and you take the necessary steps to alleviate the impact on your day.  A good event planner can be that air pump you toss in the back of your car.  So how do you know if you’ve hired the right planner?  Check for some of these quick signs.

Are You Comfortable with How Often the Planner Touches Base with You on Details?

Within our Organization, we’ve created a Task Management System with specific dates for touching base with the Client, and specific topics we want to cover.  This is not to just give the Client peace of mind, but we’ve discovered these conversations can often lead to details that are revealed by the Client that they did not feel were important.  Details such as a change in work schedules for their manufacturing plant, construction taking place in the surrounding area, or the sudden decision of a key management member deciding to attend and wishing a bit of fan fare tied to their appearance.  Without these check ins, you run the risk of showing up on the day of the event and having to completely alter your plan in light of some new information.  Throughout the process leading up to your event, the Planner should be routinely checking in, confirming details and confirming what actions have taken place up to the date of the check in.  The day of the event, or even the day before, is simply too late to find out significant changes need to be made in the plan.  By the time you are pulling into the parking lot on the day of the event, you should have had enough conversation with the Event Planner to feel relaxed and confident that you will have a memorable experience.

Does Your Planner Discuss a Contingency Plan Prior to the Event?

Despite all the check ins prior to the event, history suggests there will always be the possibility of the unforeseen occurrence.  It could be the random thunderstorm threatening  your outdoor picnic, or it could be an accident involving one of your vendors on the way to the event.  A good event planner will have experience with both those situations, and many more.  Discussions should be taking place with the Client to set expectations about certain events, how they will be handled if they should occur and what impact they will have on your event.  You should have some peace of mind that, even though an unforeseen event may negatively impact your event, the Event Planner has discussed a course of action with you and will do their best to rectify the situation.  On the day of the event, you may still huddle with the event planner to discuss the situation, but at no time should you be filled with the fear that the Event Planner has no idea how to react, or even considered this as a remote possibility.  Not all contingency plans can address every situation, but you should have comfort in knowing that your Event Planner has considered the major ones prior to your event.

Is Your Planner Putting You at Ease or Raising Your Blood Pressure?

It’s no secret sauce to say that successful business is built on solid relationships.  Key to creating a solid relationship is working with someone who puts you at ease.  Someone with whom the conversation flows naturally and gracefully.  Key points are hit in direct manner, a comfort is established and most important of all – TRUST.  Clients do not want to know how the sausage is made, but they also don’t want to be fed SPAM and told it is fresh sausage.  A good Event Planner will be honest with you about what is possible, what obstacles are currently being presented and will bring solutions to the table.  There should not be the 11th hour conversation about something that cannot get done.  A good Planner will prep you to create expectations, make you a partner and, most importantly, give you comfort that everything is being done to address the current issue.  We take pride in the long tenured relationships we’ve developed with our clients, and it’s directly attributable to the comfort they feel in speaking to us.  The ability to call us about any matter and know the clock isn’t running.  Need something for a last minute meeting?  They know they can call us up and we will bring it to them at no cost.  Our goal is long term relationships over short term revenue.  Creating a relationship built on trust, and an absence of drama, should be the goal of your Event Planner.