This episode we are joined by Lisa. We dive into the issue of hiring versus contracting event planners and where the threshold is.
Today we have Lisa Schuler, the president of Schuler Marketing. Tell us a little bit about you.
I’ve worked in the marketing communications field coming out of college and started out with international Dairy Queen. I wrote all about DQ treats. I was the Children’s Miracle network coordinator, did a lot of traveling with their events. That is how it all started and I got the bug for the events and production component.
I’ve been in events for over 20 years.
Today’s topic we are talking all about how to know when to hire someone internally or hire someone externally. A lot of times they will have an admin do it.
I think that happens a lot. Sometimes events brew up and starts and grows. It starts out small and all of a sudden it’s a big thing, they have an admin trying to manage it while supporting an executive, feeling overwhelmed and not as knowledgeable about negotiating contracts. They know enough but are not as focused. It takes a certain skill set. Meeting planners, you have to be able to juggle a lot of plates, and some people are not comfortable with that. You either love it or not. Sometimes you are handing things off to people and it’s not their sweet spot or niche. That is sometimes when an organization should step back and see if they should bring someone in, focused on the event, putting the pieces together, and they can work virtually with the team that is part of the organization.
Bringing in a meeting planner, you can let them run the show, put the team together. A lot of times I will step in and lead the team, bring them together and have a pulse check meetings. As a meeting planner, I can be focused on the event the whole time.
How does the company know when to hire internally?
It depends on the need. At some point if you’re not needing someone full time all the time, maybe you should be looking to fill that as a resource. It’s not just putting anyone in, you need someone assertive and confident. When you get past the point of a group sitting together and start adding production pieces and getting more complicated, now you are starting to look at the point of needing a meeting planner.
So maybe you’re not at the point where you should hire someone full time, how do you create an arrangement with a 3rd party where they have authority and control?
In my role that is spot on. You have to get comfortable with that and find the right person. I’m brought in a lot and looked at as a team member. There are times people think I am an employee. Find someone who looks and immerse themselves into the organization. You need to know enough about the content to deliver that into the meeting. If there’s such a separation, you’re completely missing out on the flow and integration on how the event goes.
How do you budget for a planner?
Typically I come in and it’s part of an event expense. You put it in as a line item. I scope it based on the event and give them a set amount you are working in. I help them manage that whole event. It really depends on the situation.
There are benefits to a contractor. One of the benefits, is you are already a highly connected individual.
Absolutely. There is that whole perspective. You have the preferred vendors, you know who you can go to. There is a beauty to working with people you love to work with and can count on. And then it flows, that flow is so important.
Do you find huddles with the team are helpful?
Absolutely. I like to do them every morning before. You need to, things change and move and everyone needs to know about that. Bring together the key players, including the team of the event. They need to know. It all has to move together, you want to have some kumbaya between the team.
If you are a fortune 500 company and you’ve added events and you need to hire a contractor, how do you as a corporation give you autonomy without feeling like you will take advantage?
Part of it is setting up a creative blueprint. Talk about the scope the audience and the objective of the event. I define what I’ll be in charge of and check if they are ok with it. You have to be very clear about what the expectation is.
Where do you see the most successful meeting planners putting themselves for budgeting?
For most people it’s basing it on the scope of the project. Doing a project price. We all know there is scope creep, you have to put that in a contract. What if they add another day of educational events?
A planner is kind of a liaison between the vendors.
Right, and they can lay out the options.
So say I’m a meeting planner and want to start doing more work for corporations, how do I present myself?
Sometimes businesses get so busy that they are not thinking about it. You need to work through a meeting planning department or where the meetings initiate in a company. Help them to understand that if they have a need they can bring you in to focus on it.
Take someone out of school and they want to get into meeting and event planning…
It’s really funny because everyone sees it as the fun thing. There are parts that are fun, but it’s a lot of stress, and you have to be able to manage it. You coming out of school, one of the best things you can do, get on board and help with a component of a meeting. Volunteer, get involved in associations that are doing events.
What tips can you leave for those in the events industry who are contractor?
You can use indeed or LinkedIn, they may think they need a meeting planner, but maybe they need someone to come in and manage the event. Use your network to see if someone would look at a position as a contract role. At least ask, what’s the worst that could happen?