One of the questions I get asked the most by the ladies in the party plan business is "how do I get more party bookings?" I've put together a few ideas based upon my own experience. Simply work on these suggestions and you can also be a successful party planner - whatever you choose to sell.
Having parties should be like skipping over stepping stones. One should always lead to another. Yes, there may be a gap here and there to leap across but the trick is to keep getting regular bookings and making one thing lead onto the next.
1. Open House
A particularly easy way to add a booking to your diary is to host a party yourself! Have an open house in your own home to start with or when business is quiet or a special event or sale is coming up (at Easter or Christmas). Display your product range and invite all your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, basically everyone you know.
Make sure it is at a time to suit most of them and make it clear that it is an informal drop-in. By all means give out invitations, but suggest they simply drop by for a coffee and catch up. People are busy and they don't want to commit to sitting in your home for three hours! Make it easy for them to say yes. Always remind them a couple of days before too!
If you are serious about your business, then you should breathe your business, which means being a super-fly networker! Always have a leaflet or business card on you and don't miss an opportunity to mention your successful enterprise next time you are at the hairdressers, the dentist or even on holiday! Be confident and proud of what you do and you will get extra bookings this way - keep trying and it will work!
3. Party Swaps
A great way to get more party bookings is by having "party swaps". You simply get in touch with the local reps in your area who work for other direct sales companies. You have a party or coffee morning for them at your place with your friends then set a date to go to their home with your products and meet a whole new group of people - with the clear intention that one or two of their friends book future parties with you!!
You should offer your party host some kind of gift, whether it be an item on special offer or discount based on your sales. You might also like to try increasing your actual bookings by offering all the people attending a party a gift for actually booking with you there and then. You may be cutting into your profits by giving things away but if this brings in more bookings then consider it an essential part of your marketing budget.
5. Local Events, Fundraisers and Local Businesses
The more events you attend, the more people you will come into contact with which means more potential party hosts. Not only will you be able to sell your goods directly to customers and collect orders at an event like a church or school craft and vendor fair, wedding expos or a Christmas fundraiser, you could also collect names and contact details by running a free prize draw or competition.
Ask to display the products in a local school staff room for a day or at your doctor's surgery or supermarket. Have 'parties' or arrange 'fairs' with other direct sellers at playgroups or nurseries, children's soft play centres, leisure centres, parks or village halls!
It pays to be organised and keep a list of all customers, enquiries, party hosts, potential party hosts. Include their contact details and a note about the last contact you had with them. You may be able to remember clearly your first dozen contacts but what about 50 or 100 names! The information you have becomes worthless if you can't remember why you scribbled down someone's name last Christmas - did they want to have a party this Christmas?
Use these precious contacts to book more parties by perhaps sending a newsletter out every few weeks (check out .Constant Contact makes it easy and affordable to build strong relationships with your customers. Try our FREE 60-Day Trial.) You could perhaps offer a prize to the first three people to book parties! Don't forget to personally follow up all the contacts (preferably with a phone call) as people are often too busy to contact you but may be very interested in your products and having a party.
7. Online Parties
If you are looking for new avenues to increase your direct sales then this is the latest trend. An online party is hosted in a chat room which means the world is literally your oyster as far as who you invite! Preparation includes searching for sites which offer free online party chat rooms, sending email invitations and possibly posting messages on a few of your favourite chat rooms inviting more people.
You could offer a small gift to everyone who attends or give a prize to one of the guests. As with all parties, give incentives or free postage if they order during the party. Include games, and let them know about you and the benefits of your products. Give it a try!
8. Reputation, professionalism and 'word of mouth'
Don't underestimate the power of 'word of mouth' and how you conduct yourself - especially in the party plan business! Your style and persona will have a direct effect on whether you get more bookings. Remember to be professional and courteous at all times as your actions say a lot about you. This doesn't mean you can't be friendly and fun as your reputation for giving great parties (or dull ones) will spread quickly through circles of friends.
Always aim to improve upon things, perhaps giving out a questionnaire once in a while or asking friends for tips and feedback. Whatever you may be 'selling', do remember that you are hosting 'parties' so make them fun, informative and entertaining.
Another simple way to increase bookings is to ask your host to re-book. It could be added to your bookings diary months in advance, perhaps before a special even like the host's birthday for example. Offer an extra incentive or discount if they re-book there and then, perhaps explaining that you will pencil it in and can confirm a fixed date nearer the time.
Think of this as speculating to accumulate. Unless you have an excellent reputation, have been trading for decades and rely solely on word of mouth then you will have to devise a marketing plan for promoting your business. However, this need not cost the earth and will only lead to more bookings if it is targeted at the correct people! Set yourself a marketing budget and review every type of promotional activity you do. The results should help you plan your next move.