Saying no and turning down prospective clients

As an experienced event maker, I am occasionally given a brief that perhaps is not right for me or even one that I can tell will not work for my client. I consider these situations carefully, take some time and a deep breath so that I can be open and honest and say: “I really don’t think the fit is right for me.”

When the events business was scarce in the early period of the pandemic recovery, it would have been very easy to take on anything that came my way, but after 30 years in events and hospitality I instinctively know when to say no. I hold firm to the fact that if I am not clearly communicating my ideas from our initial conversation then the road will be a bumpy journey and the outcome will not be what the client expects.

Honesty is the best policy (even if it is scary)

My heart is filled with joy when I get that connection with a prospective client and I ‘get it’! I can see their vision and know exactly how to create a unique and memorable event for them. I am very privileged to work with a variety of people from all walks of life with different budgets and aspirations. It can be a challenge – but when you click – you can work together in unison and create something quite magical.

Yet sometimes, success is achieved in a roundabout way! I recently organised a beautiful event for a client, even though in the initial meeting I thought ‘this will never work’! I was halfway through the meeting when I stopped the conversation to raise several concerns over their ambitious ideas. I actually remember saying: “I am extremely worried you are going to run at a huge loss, and you don’t have the infrastructure to do this properly.” There was a long pause, you know when that tumbleweed slowly blows in and you can only hear your heart pounding in your ears at that moment. In for a penny, in for a pound… so I won’t be taking the contract.

Trust your instincts and hard-earned expertise

Well, there it was, me saying no even though there was barely a booking in the calendar! The client looked at me, pushed his chair back from the table and said: “Oh that feels so good, it was starting to feel like a runaway train with everyone’s ideas. What do you propose Claire?”

So, with an honest reply I told him exactly what I thought would work and how we could make it profitable: less visitors, less overheads, simple and effective marketing, and structured timings so that everyone who came could feel they were given the opportunity to really experience the event.

I am proud to say that I got the gig and together with my client’s team we produced a wonderful event with fantastic feedback. I am proud to have brought value and expertise and through honesty I gained more respect than if I had just given the client lip service.

It scares me some days, but I will not just take the job because the money is good if I feel that I am not able to offer value and outstanding service. It’s what we pride ourselves on at Love Luxury Events. It may be an old-fashioned value, but I like it!