It doesn’t matter how many amazing couples you work with, the chances are that at some stage of your business and career you’re going to come across a couple who makes life more difficult for you.
Whether they’re particularly demanding, too relaxed in their actual details to you, they’re haggling with you on price, or they decide that they want you to do more, knowing how to deal with difficult couples is an absolute must. Not only can it make your life easier, but it also means that you can potentially turn a difficult couple into one of your favourites.
The trick is about being honest, making sure they feel like they’re being heard, and continuing open and honest communication.
Teach couples how they should treat you
First off, the trick with making sure that most of your couples treat you right is to teach them how you should be treated. You know what sort of experience you have, and if you’re second-guessing yourself then a couple will do the same.
Wedding planning can be an emotional and stressful time in a couples life, and the chances are they’re under a lot more pressure than usual. Make sure that you acknowledge this with your couples but also don’t let them take that stress out on you. If you let them snap at you once, then you’re teaching them that they can do it again.
Couples are often being indulged, so set those boundaries at the beginning for a strong and respectful relationship on both sides.
Don’t be afraid to say no
The biggest red flag for a potential couple or client is listening to them telling you about all the amazing things they want on their wedding day, but then telling you their budget which is completely opposite to this.
If a couple already has a warped view of what they will get for their time and budget, then you’re already facing a losing battle to get them to a point where they will respect your value and services.
It’s true, that you can spend the time educating them to hope that they get it. But if their view is totally off the mark, then don’t be afraid to say no and spend your valuable time converting other, more qualified couples.
Give empathy, but not sympathy
Remember that most couples are acting out of emotion, so if they are on an emotional level then you need to match that level with empathy. Make sure that they believe they’re being heard and all their concerns and questions are being met. Use your experience to listen to this, and then move onto another subject where appropriate.
If you keep yourself steady you’ll have more luck bringing your couples back to centre. But make sure that you are giving them empathy, not sympathy. Empathy means that you’re putting yourself on the same level as them, but as soon as you give a couple sympathy you’re in a situation where their emotions suddenly seem more valid than your own.
Unless you have really done something wrong, don’t apologise to your couples. If they have an issue with you, your services or your products, there are ways to diffuse the situation without apologising. As soon as you apologise you put yourself on the back foot.
Choosing wording such as “forgive me” or “pardon me” rather than sorry will help in this respect. Choosing phrases such as “I sense” or “in my professional experience” rather than “in my opinion” will also give your argument more weight.
If a couple has an issue with you, thank them for pointing it out, and know when to pick up the phone and call them if it’s a simple misunderstanding that can be sorted out!
Use your contract
If you have a couple who is trying to add to your duties, don’t devalue your services and your time by letting them. We’re all guilty of trying to push more to get what we want, and a couple planning their wedding could be no different.
Gently remind them of your contract and enforce it to let them know what your limitations are, or what they have actually hired you to do. This is particularly important if you offer more than one service but they have only hired you to do the one, don’t let them try and get the other service out of you without the recognition.
Know when to fire them
It might sound harsh, but many couples won’t think twice when it comes to firing a supplier that they don’t think is doing their job. So there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same.
Demand appropriate communication from your couples and look at what the limits of your liabilities are if you are going to go against your contract. At the end of the day, they might be worth your own peace of mind.
This is particularly important when it comes to abusive or hostile language. It’s not against the rules to add a hostility clause in your contract, so if a couple are being particularly abusive towards you, they are in breach of that contract. If reminding them of that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to give them the flick.
At the end of the day, you need to make sure a couple works well with you just as much as you need to make sure that you work with them. So look after yourself and take care when you do have difficult clients.