I don’t usually talk “business” here on the blog, but since I get a lot of emails from ladies around the country who want to start their own party business and ask for my advice, I decided I’d give it a shot. Read on for my answer to the most popular question & if you’re a seasoned pro, leave a tip in the conversation box at the end.
- What Do I Charge? I’ll start by saying that my “advice” is strictly based on my own experience which is in a small Southern, conservative city. I also cater to smaller events with less than 50 guests – usually birthdays, showers, and theme parties. The question I get asked most often is “how do I price my services?”. The best way for me has been to charge a flat “professional” fee for a job + a fee for “expenses.” I think experience is the only way you will know what the right fee is for you to charge. It will depend on the economic area you live in, the social culture of your target market & what they are willing to pay, and of course the amount of time you know you will be spending on the project. This is why it’s a good idea to volunteer for jobs for friends and relatives in the beginning – so you will have the experience to make informed proposals to clients. Once you’ve done that a few times you’ll have a good idea of what your base fee should be.
- Professional Fee: As for a hard number, I was informed by some pros a few years ago that $20 to $25 per hour is rock-bottom pricing for your service and expertise. Some of the things included in that fee are meetings with the client, travel time & gas, set-up & removal of party decor, time spent on email or phone correspondence, shopping, crafting, brainstorming online, and collaborating with vendors. A great way to keep track of this is to set up a spreadsheet and log in your time as needed.
- Event Expenses: Once you have your professional fee lined up, you need to think about your expenses per job. Things like rentals, specialty décor & props, items sourced from vendors, flowers, favors, interns or day helpers, etc. These expenses will be passed on to the client and in some cases you may even up-charge for some. For instance, if a vendor gives you a professional discount on something, you can either pass on the savings to your client or charge them the retail value. Likewise, you can charge a small rental fee for items you already own (your stock items like vases, candles, etc).
- How To Get Started: Once you decide this is what you want to do, start spreading the word to everyone you know. Offer to do birthday parties or showers for friends & family, help with weddings, volunteer with local charity events, volunteer for committees that are hospitality focused, etc. This will help you polish your skills, set you apart as an “expert”, and of course give you the opportunity to share with others that you do this for hire. It will take some time but eventually you will be as busy as you want to be.
So there you have some very basics of how to get started with your own party planning/styling business. It is exhausting at times, but the end result and seeing the happy faces of the guest of honor or host is so rewarding!
It’s been very exciting starting my own business, so I’m curious to know: What dream business would you love to start?