Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Planner's Guide: Commission

I don't normally have enough time to blog on a regular basis these days, as much as I would like to, meaning that what gets posted has to be worth reading and worth my time to write. I've been meaning to start a series about the world of wedding planning for some time now and I hope it will help future clients and planners to better understand how employing or becoming one works.

My first piece focuses on commission, both charging and receiving it...

What Is Commission?

In simple terms, commission is a fee that is passed on when a booking is made via a personal recommendation. In the case of a wedding planner, certain suppliers will pass on a percentage of their booking fee when a client books with them. Generally this is around 10% of the overall fee.
In some cases a planner may have a specific list of suppliers on their books with which they have a contract of recommendation, guaranteeing them a "kick back" if their client chooses any one from their list.

Why Do Planners Charge Commission?

As with many jobs-from sales people to bankers, commission provides the planner with the incentive to work regularly with certain suppliers. It's the cherry on top as it were.

What Happens With This Fee?

I can't speak for all planners, but in my case I always pass this back to my clients as a discount if I'm offered anything. Of course, providing the fee isn't added on top of the client's bill, the planner is well within their rights to keep this fee, although it's not something I feel comfortable in doing. If it is added on top then it must be made clear. If you're looking for other planners who don't accept or charge commission the UKAWP has an extensive list and be sure to ask your planner when you first meet with them to make sure everything is completely transparent before you start.

Why Don't I Pocket This Fee?

I once sat through a Q&A session with a well established planner who claimed "how do you expect your business to make a profit if you don't charge commission"? It got my back up. In my opinion, if you feel the need to charge suppliers to work with you then perhaps you should re-evaluate what you charge your clients in the first place. The team you put forward to your brides should always be about what's best for her wedding, her style, her budget, and who is trustworthy not whether or not you can make a little extra profit on top. Perhaps I'm being controversial and I'm sure there'll be plenty of professionals who will disagree with me.

Finally, commission is not a bad thing and I don't condemn other professionals who choose to operate in this way. It is, however, important to ensure that if this is something you want to do that you make sure to make this very clear to your clients. If you're choosing to work with a planner don't be afraid to ask questions.

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