This week, we had the opportunity to chat with Rishi Patel of HMR Designs on one of our monthly Maroo webinars. After spending a few years in the finance world, Rishi pivoted into the event industry 12 years ago and joined the team at HMR Designs where he worked his way up to CEO. If you missed this webinar, watch the reply here. Below are 6 secrets that Rishi shared that are keys to success!
Rishi advises that in the events business, it’s important to specialize. Rather than trying to serve couples in a multitude of ways, his best advice is to narrow in on one specific role and to get really good at that. “If a wedding pro tries to do too many things at once, they never become masters,” he says. In his case, HMR Designs is a Design & Production firm that is fully focused on design and production, so therefore they do not offer planning or lighting or anything beyond the scope of design and production.
We talked about the fuzzy definitions around planners and designers and producers and coordinators in the industry. (You know what we’re talking about! The businesses that will refer to themselves as one but really specialize in another.) It’s certainly confusing within the industry and no doubt confuses clients. As a result, we ran through the list of roles and defined them together. Full disclaimer: These are definitions based on Rishi’s experience!
Producer: A person/team who manages the production (like the producer of a movie).
Production: The process of creating something from scratch. Imagine using materials in their raw form until the final product is created.
Designer: A person/team that manages the vision of the event as a whole.
Planner: A person/team that oversees the entire event. This person (or team) puts together the puzzle pieces like designer, photographer, cake, venue, catering, band etc.
The team at HMR Designs breaks down the costs and pricing estimates for a client to a finite level. Within their extremely detailed proposal, they break down everything––from design fees to labor costs (including position of each person), hourly rates, hours spent, travel, materials, and everything in between! In other words, they don’t throw darts at the wall in terms of cost. They do their homework and for them, according to Rishi, that instills a real sense of trust with a client.
To elaborate on the point above, Rishi also talked about the importance of transparency, especially when it comes to pricing and cost estimates. One of the most important elements of running a successful business is the idea of transparency, especially with all the varying costs. Rishi shared the example of one of their weddings that had been rescheduled three times due to Covid. By the time the wedding actually occurred, the cost of labor had tripled! To keep the client feeling good about the budget, Rishi and his team maintained total transparency with their client along the way. That way, by the time the final invoices arrived, no one was surprised.
On commissions? “I’m not a fan of overinflating the cost of something just to compensate for something else,” he says. Instead he recommended businesses to move to flat fees (without commission) or to a percentage pricing model. This helps product and service providers to keep costs level, while enabling everyone to run profitable businesses.
“We strive to treat our team like we treat our clients,” says Rishi. Rishi and his team spend time finding the right positions for employees that are tailored to their passions and skills. Do it that way and you’ll have a team that you can really rely on: If someone needs to leave early, start work late, or needs extra comp days––they should take it. No questions asked.
Rishi reminded us: “Without your team, you are nothing.”
On event day, Rishi is a hawk for finding elements that need to be fixed, trimmed, edited or covered. In his case, HMR designs tend to be natural to the environment and designed to feel as if the tent or the space had always existed. From a design perspective, he suggests that it’s crucial to think through elements like how the guest will find the restrooms or building in enough room for servers to seamlessly move between chairs. “Decor and design can be amazing–but shortcuts taken that hinder the experience can hurt luxury,” he says. “All things must be in equilibrium.”
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