Confessions of a CEO: How to Build a Company Your Clients Love
When I was young, I knew that one day I wanted to have my own business, be my own boss, make my mark on the world. I had absolutely no idea that I would build a company that my clients love and appreciate and my employees enjoy working for.
Here’s how I did it – and how we continue to do it:
Do work you love
My entire career has been spent in the event industry, and I could not imagine doing any other work. I am a people-person, and I thrive in a service-oriented role. I truly have a passion for what I do, and I used that to my advantage. During my time with Marriott, the PGA Tour, Michael Jordan, ClubCorp, and The Steven Gaffney Company, I focused on learning and developing a strong skill set that I could build a great career – and company – on.
Start out slowly
I spent five years building TaylorMade Experience on the side before diving in full-time as a solopreneur. Those five years were invaluable, as I had the time to put all the pieces in place to build a company. At launch, I was handling two major events for two nonprofits, Dress for Success and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. When RFK asked me to start handling more events, I was prepared to hire.
Find your niche
In the almost eight years we’ve been in business, our work has attracted numerous nonprofit clients, so that has become our niche. We are definitely known for fundraising events! But we are also known for a very holistic approach to events and fundraising and our above-and-beyond service. We are not just consultants who come in, have a conversation, and leave without doing anything. We do everything – and we do it well.
It might sound trite to say we become part of our clients’ team, but we really do. Case in point: We have been working with RFK for over seven years, and the regular event attendees commonly mistake us for internal staff.
Embracing growth is really important for our team. We want to challenge ourselves and each other – it keeps things exciting! Here at TME, continual learning is practiced weekly in our office.
On Mondays and Fridays we “huddle” as a team and discuss our work that week so we can all stay abreast about current client news. On Tuesdays during our weekly meeting, we discuss in greater detail each client and our progress. A staff member also presents a “TME Teachable Point” on a rotating basis. The goal is to teach each other something new about our industry, event apps or technology, or new event locations.
Provide a lot of value
We apply a very strategic and focused approach to fundraising, which is one of our biggest differentiators. For example, we build sponsorship packages that encompass all of a nonprofit’s or corporation’s annual events. This way, our clients are only pinging their donors once for support, not five times throughout the year.
Put processes into place
A lot of processes will be your best friend as you grow your company! When we start a relationship with a client, the client intake sheet informs the scope of work, which turns into a task list that allows us to stay on-task and on-time. We have a lead on each client project and a support for the lead. We have periodic, recurring check-ins with our clients that follow an agenda, and we share a lot of information through Google docs to keep them up-to-date.
All of these processes are absolutely necessary if we want to stay on top of the numerous moving parts we manage for an event.
If we don’t agree with something our clients want to do, we are upfront about why this might not be the best idea based on our experience. After we share our perspective, sometimes we do go along with our client’s idea. Often times they like our angle so much that we move forward based on our suggestions, and the client ends up appreciating that we just don’t go along to get along.
That honest and open mindset and commitment to doing what is right for the client has been invaluable to building strong client relationships.
Build strong relationships with vendors
We have strong ties to vendors in Washington, DC, North Carolina, New York, Boston, and Cape Cod. It has taken a lot of research and a lot of conversations with people to learn who is the best. But we couldn’t do our jobs without them!
Interested in learning more about our capabilities and how they can benefit your organization? Contact us today!