PHOTO BY: JOSE VILLA
This week we had the opportunity to sit with Harper’s BAZAAR top wedding planner, Brooke Keegan to talk about percentage pricing as a planner. Brooke a passionate advocate for planners using the percentage model to drastically improve planners’ revenue and profitability. In fact, she even launched a course on how to transition from a flat fee to the percentage model (you can learn more about the Brooke Keegan Blueprint course here).
Before we jump into our top takeaways from the webinar, let’s define the percentage pricing model. What is it and how does it work in practice? The percent model is based on the notion that the more money your client spends, the more work a planner needs to do. And so instead of charging a flat fee and watching the budget balloon over time, the planner can be compensated for whatever may come their way.
Didn’t have the opportunity to listen but are curious as to what we talked about? Here are some of our takeaways:
- When using the percentage model, start with a minimum fee.
Brooke emphasized the importance of a minimum––in other words a minimum that you will be paid as a planner before taking the job. Put it differently, as a planner with a minimum it means that you would be willing to walk away from a job that didn’t hit that minimum. Sounds scary? Yes, but according to Brooke (and many others who use the model), it’s well worth it. There are several reasons she noted for its importance but one of the major reasons was that having that minimum will help you as a business manage your cash flow.
- Decide what percentage makes sense for your offerings.
Confused on what percentage to charge? Brooke suggests you tailor it to your offerings. Here is a quick cheat sheet from her!
- Planning logistics only: 10-15%
- Planning logistics + Design: 15-18%
- Planning logistics + Design + Concierge services (handling of room blocks, transfers, collecting and keeping track of RSVPs, guest communication, building wedding websites): 18-20%
- Almost everything a planner touches is typically included in the percentage model.
While the percentage pricing model is based on the idea that the planner gets paid on everything they touch and manage (think photographers, catering, entertainment, rentals, stationery) not everything is included.
Brooke shared some of the items not included in the pricing model:
- Accommodations: Brooke works with the hotel or venue on a buyout or room blocks and typically receives a commission from them on the backend. Because of that, she does not charge a percent on hotels. If the hotel does not provide a commission, she’ll charge a flat management fee.
- Attire: Although her team manages all the dress appointments, suit appointments and other shopping and alterations appointments for family members, she does not go with most of her clients to these appointments and does not include attire in her percentage.
- Celebrity entertainment: Brooke charges a flat management fee of $20-$50k for this service.
- Gratuities to vendors: Only contracted amounts are included in the pricing model. She does not include gratuities for the actual wedding weekend in the model.
4. Contrary to what some may say, the percentage model is designed for all budgets and locations (not just luxury!).
A few planners have pointed out that they couldn’t imagine charging a percentage for a smaller less-than-luxury wedding. But Brooke addressed this head-on: the percentage pricing model is entirely scalable for all full-service wedding planners, regardless of price point and it’s adjustable to all locations and all budgets. It’s based on the idea that the more work a planner does, the more they should be paid–and that goes for weddings of all sizes.
- Confidence will help with potential pushback.
Going in confidently, educated, and prepared to speak to exactly why you charge a percentage is key. “There are going to be some clients that get it, and some that don’t,” says Brooke. She used the example of a potential client asking why they should go with her when the overall price is likely to be much higher than a planner charging a flat fee. Her reply? Every planner works differently in the industry and it’s never apples to apples. She then outlines a series of bullet points that support how she will provide full-service for her client and then she confidently steps back and trusts that she will end up with the right clients for her.
Curious to learn more about her course? The Brooke Keegan Blueprint course is a comprehensive course that walks through how to determine the right percentages and minimums to charge, advice on how to sell the model and explain it to clients, how to draft contracts and so much more. She’s even offering a discount code for all of our members and readers that you can apply to her Blueprint E-Course and her Budget Spreadsheet that outlines all of this in an easy to use way! Just use this code at checkout: MAROO10