There's nothing wrong with competition, especially friendly competition. Over the last twenty years of wedding planning, I’ve found that friendly competition raises the bar in the wedding industry. In my days in Philadelphia, there were somewhere around eight, higher-end wedding planners who would get together for lunch and to talk about the industry and where we saw things changing for the better or the worse. While competition can bring on negative attitudes and the obsession to be perfect, it can also be a positive thing for our businesses, and here's why.
Community Over Competition
"A lot of business owners see competition in a negative light," says Samantha Nelson of EVL Events. "However, competition is everything to me. It's literally what drives me to better myself as a businesswoman and to continue to better my business. In my opinion, without competition, people would become complacent with what they're doing. They would have no desire to improve, start giving subpar service, and then fall out of love with what they're doing!"
There can always be negatives to competition too, such as undercutting prices, devaluing services, and losing business to someone else. But for Samantha, that's okay! It keeps her on the right track and guides her on her way. Knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and personality of your competitors not only forces you to bring you’re A-game all the time, but if you're booked or a potential client isn't a good fit for you, you can direct them to someone else, helping build a strong community of professionals around you.
Your Personal Best
“I love competition!" says Lezlie King of A Blissed Event Planning & Design. "And the reason is very simple. I learn so much when I engage my competition and treat them as a kindred spirit. No client or wedding is ever the same which lends to a constant state of learning and challenge. In this line of business, I have yet to meet a competitor that wasn't concerned about upholding the integrity of the industry which keeps us connected.”
Clients are truly the most important factor in the industry. Because of this, most industry professionals will work together to give their clients the most magical day they could've imagined and put all competition aside. Lezlie went on to say, “I tell my employees that there's never a reason to worry about the competition when we're doing our personal best.” Even as professionals, we're always learning in this industry. It's important to have that support behind you and support others in return.
Be Your Biggest Competitor
One of my favorite quotes is, "Be your biggest competitor, challenge yourself each day to be better than you were yesterday.” Don't let the work of others determine your style or processes. No one can do a better job at being you then YOU! Nicole Mason of Ivory & Beau hit the nail on the head when she said, “Competition is not something to be afraid of as a small business owner. It drives me to not be like everybody else but to use my personal voice and personality to stand out in a sea of wedding planners, florists, and bridal shops. And I think it should be the same for every small business.”
"Competition is an awesome thing because, let's be real, not every couple is your dream couple!" says Nicole. "In the same ways you use your platform to showcase your own personality, competition allows others to showcase theirs. Don't be afraid to refer to other vendors over taking business that may not really be ideal for your company in the long run. Turn your competition into community!"
My dearest friend in the Philadelphia wedding market was another planner who was relatively conservative. She always wore a blue suit and pearls. As for me, I was an openly gay man who wore a bright red shirt. We were complete opposites! This was true for both our personalities and the type of client we attracted. But we bonded over our love for raising the bar in the industry. Friendly competition in the wedding industry is the best way for professionals to not only push themselves to be better but also to raise the industry standards. What are you doing to build healthy competition in your market?
Hero photo courtesy Tess Comrie