We meet Ashley while she waits tables at an Irish Pub. She has a college degree and is rather embarrassed of, and completely unfulfilled in, her work (and she’s feed-up with all the drama and ‘high school’ antics that go on behind the scenes).
She’s not ‘into’ material wealth (wants rich experiences, not a big house, etc.) and doesn’t want the traditional 9 to 5 job. She knows she needs to find a real job and start a career. Long-term, she wants to work part-time when she starts her family; now she’s single and willing to work hard at something she cares about. Yet, right now, she has no money (with lots of school debt!) and no idea about what she should do.
She thinks wedding planning ‘sounds fun’, but has no business training or experience. (Note: the wedding industry is a flat/stagnant industry where most people work it like a hobby; it’s rather ‘catty’ and ‘gossip-riddled’, and almost everyone only looks out for themselves. Not exactly the environment that matches who she is.)
We start working together and created a plan for her to get the knowledge and skills she needs to launch Simply Elegant Bridal Consulting (now the Simply Elegant Group). She gets her International Wedding Planning Certification (right, who knew?), and studied the local wedding market while taking care of her maternal grandmother. Her original goal was to average 2 weddings a month when she was ‘established’ in the industry (she set that at 5 years in the business). We ultimately created a strategy to ‘grow the wedding industry’ – which made all the difference in how she approached her business – by making it effectively free for her clients to have a wedding planner. (Originally, she invested 6 months of time building a high-quality preferred vendor network that would pay her to bring clients to them.)
At the same time we also identified her StrengthsFinder talents: Positivity, Woo, Communication, Futuristic, and Empathy. From there we identified and developed her strengths of: instantly building positive, powerful, and profitable vendor relationships; creating a ‘slam-dunk’ sales conversation/message; and training her consultants so well she basically sets them up to be her future competition (although as you can probably imagine, they don’t think that way).
So how’d it go? Well, 6 years into it she’s already in The Knot’s (‘the’ website for brides) Hall of Fame as a wedding planner, received multiple industry awards; been quoted/featured in both regional and national bride magazines multiple times (including having her wedding pictures featured in national Bride magazine); and been on local TV promoting wedding events.
The numbers? (Remember she hoped to be doing 24-25 weddings a year when she had 5 years in?) She now has over 25 consultants working with her, in 4 branches/cites, and in 2016 will do over 200 weddings!
She now has the largest wedding planning business in the country. Her goal for next year is 365 – average ‘a wedding per day’.
She is also purchasing a high-end wedding planning business (La vie Charmé Events) which she’ll integrate into her current business operations, and plans to open two more branches in the next 12-18 months.
Oh..And she’s currently launching a new business (with her partner Nadia) providing business and lifestyle workshops & retreats called Intentionally Charged. I think this is called being ‘on a roll’.
P.S. She is now married to an amazing guy, and just signed the purchase agreement to build their first home. Also, she has built a strong team that allows her to continue to grow her business, now, with only a part-time time investment.