Posted on August 18, 2022 @ 12:46:00 PM by Paul Meagher
We hosted the first wedding at our farm this year. We hoped it would be a good learning experience and that it would help us figure out what package of services to offer and how to price them. The bride's mother had alot of experience decorating for events and was a very take-charge personality. She provided some useful insight into what
our future customers might want/expect.
A wedding is a complex event that often involves ceremonial aspects, food aspects and music aspects. Alot of planning goes into it. It has been my experience that customers would like to know what their ballpark costs might be without extensive discussion of all their requirements (which they may not know in the early stages of planning). This used to be a stumbling point for my sales efforts, but now I have a better sales script which involves providing a base price for the core elements of my wedding venue offering which might be all that they ultimately require: rental of the main barn over 3 a day period (setup day, event day, cleanup day), rental of our collected chairs and tables, and rental of a couple of portable toilets we own. Theoretically, the wedding venue client could host their wedding at our farm if they only rented these three things from us.
I have three add-ons that customers can also consider purchasing:
- Rental of a single bedroom trailer accommodation that we also list on AirBnB. It can be useful to have an area for bridesmaids to
socialize and get ready for the event, where all family members might have access to a flush toilet, and as overnight accommodations for friends and family of the wedding party.
- Rental of a secondary attached barn where they can store and prep food items for an event. In the attached barn, we have a couple of fridges, an electric stove, food prep areas, running hot/cold water, and we can keep it clean and hygenic. We also have outdoor equipment for deep frying, grilling, barbequing, making pizzas, and boiling pots of water or grease that they can rent. If the guest wants to save money and make the food themselves using our kitchen and equipment it would potentially be cheaper than a catering alternative and that is a selling point for
this add-on. Alot of wedding venue clients, however, are happy to outsource food to a caterer so this is not part of our core offering at this time.
- We have sound and light equipment for the concerts that we put on in the barn and we can also rent this equipment to wedding venue customers if they want to manage the music themselves versus hire a dj and have them setup their equipment in our barn. Again, we expect some wedding clients to want to outsource that aspect of things to a dj or musician so it is not part of our core offering at this time. It is, however, an option for those looking for a cheaper alternative to hiring a dj by doing it themselves with out equipment.
One insight I obtained from the mother who setup the barn for our first wedding was that she didn't think the portable toilets should be an "addon" cost, that it should be part of the "package". I resisted this idea initially citing the fact that I was only charging a $200 addon fee for my two portable toilets where they would have to pay $500+ if they were renting from a portable toilet company (extra cost mostly for delivery/pickup fees) so I was saving them quite a bit of money. I eventually swung around to her way of thinking and decided to roll the portable toilets into our base package cost and not itemize it as a separate addon cost. The base cost was increased by $200, I just
don't point out that $200 of the base cost is for portable toilets.
When I'm selling our wedding services/package, the competitor I have in mind are those selling wedding tents and all the addons required to
host a wedding or some part of it. Our offering is very competitive to that type of offering and informing the client that they might be paying x for a tent alone makes our costs look reasonable. The wind isn't going to blow our barn down, but it might wreak havoc upon a wedding under a tent. A barn venue also looks alot cooler then a tent venue in my opinion.
So getting into the wedding venue sales business for me involves figuring out what my core offering is and how I would price it. I realized that decorating, catering and dj services are also common services that wedding organizers purchase but that I was not capable of offering myself. What I could offer was to support wedding venue clients who might want to deliver some of these services themselves to save money. They can rent my facilities and equipment as addons to the base package to make that happen.
Next year my goal might be to host 10 new wedding events at our farm. I'm in discussion with 3 so far and haven't formally put out a shingle yet. My sales approach is sufficiently refined that I think I can now build a website to advertise my wedding venue services in a straight forward manner.
Renting the barn out as a wedding venue is only one of the enterprises we have on the farm. It has the potential to add a good income stream for a few months to the farm. There is alot that I still have to learn about this industry but I though I would share some of what I have learned so far as starting any business involves figuring out the needs of your clients, providing base pricing that is easy for them to understand and relate to their needs, identifying what your value propositions are compared to your competitors, learning from your customers, and setting sales goals so you can project what the venture might contribute to your overall bottom line.
July 30, 2022 wedding setup in our barn