Principles of Production

Back to Basics Webinar: Principles of Production

By Ryan O'Neil

Ryan O'Neil, PFCI, is a thought leader in the industry and is keen to share all the potholes he hit along the way of building his companies.

Ryan and his wonderfully creative wife, Rachael, were the founders of Twisted Willow Design in St. Louis, Missouri as an event design company. From that experience, Ryan created Curate, a small business software that automates the entire “wedding folder.” Ryan has personally spoken with thousands of wedding professionals since starting Curate and is a constant source of candid advice about the industry. He’s the lead contributor to The Business Of Events blog which shares all the details of how he and his wife started a floral shop and grew it into a successful lifestyle business. 

This blog post comes from our recent webinar and has the three Principles of Production Ryan and his wife use to manage their successful floral business. 

Principles of Production

What, exactly, is production? And why is it so important? Production is all about the successful execution of the events and deliverables you promise to your clients.  Whether that’s a catered affair for 250 people or a single bouquet, successful production includes these three focus areas:

  • Production Starts Before The Sale
  • Procure Early and Often
  • Processes, Processes, Processes

Production Starts Before the Sale

Is there anything worse than the over-promise, under-deliver? Over-promising has led to unhappy clients and lackluster events for many of us in the business. Sometimes it’s the result of an error in the proposal process and sometimes it’s something completely out of your control but the end result is the same: an unhappy client.  Here are a few ideas to help you during the proposal process to ensure a positive outcome: 

  • Keep proposals visionary so that your production team has the ability to execute based on what’s available that still meets the client’s needs (unless a client is paying for specificity)
    • Clients give reviews based on “Expected Experience” Ensure expectations are set in a way that doesn’t strain your production team. 
  • Sell the same thing across multiple events.
    • By simplifying your offering, you can execute with better scale and with a simpler overall production process. 
  • Have you double-checked that you have access to the returnable items?
    • Same birch-bark chuppah?
    • One ladder for two events?
  • Do you have a cut-off time communicated for changes?
  • Consider what could go wrong/what may not be available and tailor proposals accordingly. 

Procure - Early and Often

I think we’ve all seen the “failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” meme. Advance planning (as much as possible) ensures smoother days pre-event.

  • The supply chain has likely created a new part-time job for you. Make sure you’re accounting for this time on your proposals and in your own schedule. 
  • If you’re overbooked on rentals you own, you need to buy more early and when it’s available. 
  • Make sure you have enough in stock to fulfill your marketing promises.
  • Run a report of the non-perishables that you’re needing for the next 6 months. 
    • If items are perishable, get your order in early by pre-booking with your wholesaler.
    • Focus on keeping your wholesaler relationship great!

Don’t let late orders and poor pre-event processes wreak havoc for you and for your suppliers. Becoming “that person” who always has to have things rushed makes your vendor partners less and less happy to help you. 

Processes, Processes, Processes

Are you working ON your business and not IN your business? Working on your business includes things like finding the root cause of problems to prevent future issues, creating more robust processes to ensure profitability, and considering what will make you successful. Working in your business (which is still critically important) includes things like sending proposals, working events, and managing your employees. A few ideas to help you work on your business are: 

  • Document your processes
    • What prints do you need?
    • What handoffs need to happen and when?
    • Do you have a checklist for the strike/pick-up team?
  • Review Processes Regularly
    • Whenever you’ve created processes, use them actively. Seek to find areas that are unclear.
    • Integrated Front-of-House and Back-of-House
      • Examples:
        • Smaller companies
        • Companies with light-weight FOH (think: Drop-offs)
      • These can lean on one key person. But they can also fail. Create a checklist/document of all processes to manage an event.
    • Separated Front-of-House and Back-of-House
      • Work with leads from both departments to define what needs to be handed off. Prints? Rental items?
      • Build checks and balances into the system
      • Are you doing samples? Does your BOH team have access to photos of those samples? If you did a tasting, that’s what the client expects to see.

We hope these three production focus areas will help you as you continue to execute your business with your clients successfully. Be sure to contact us here at Curate to see how we can help you create and improve the processes that will build a thriving business!


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