How to handle tricky wedding client relationships with Jen Trotter

Show notes:

Today I am chatting to Bridal Makeup artist and conflict resolution expert Jen Trotter. We talk though her story from solo makeup artist to building a team as Lip Service Makeup and she shares her expect tips on how to handle tricky wedding client relationships.

Jen advises on handling client frustrations, avoiding defensiveness, and using empathetic phrases. She also cautions against over-apologising and discounting services. It’s a great episode with so many practical tips and pieces of advice.

Find out more about Jen Trotter

Time Stamps:

Building a Bridal Beauty Team (00:00:00) Starting a bridal beauty team and the importance of gradual growth and course correction.

Introduction to the Podcast (00:00:29) Becca Pountney introduces the podcast and its focus on actionable tips and strategies for wedding business owners.

Jen Trotter’s Background (00:01:37) Jen Trotter’s introduction and her experience as a bridal beauty expert in Dallas, Texas.

Skincare and Sun Allergy (00:01:58) Jen Trotter’s skincare secret and her avoidance of the sun due to allergies.

Transition to Bridal Makeup (00:03:25) Jen Trotter’s transition from modeling and TV presenting to becoming a professional makeup artist, particularly in the wedding industry.

Working with a Team (00:07:59) Jen Trotter’s decision to build a team for her bridal beauty business and the process of transitioning from full-time work to focusing on her business.

Recruiting and Quality Control (00:11:58) Strategies for building and maintaining a reliable and high-quality team for a bridal beauty business.

Importance of Communication and Conflict Management (00:15:10) Jen Trotter’s expertise in communication and conflict resolution, emphasizing the significance of managing communication and reducing conflict in a business.

Practical Ideas for Managing Conflict (00:20:12) Advice on identifying and addressing potential sources of conflict and chaos in a business, focusing on improving processes and customer experiences.

Fixing Issues in Contracts (00:20:58) Jen discusses the importance of addressing contract issues and the need for a toolbox to handle client issues effectively.

Dealing with Client Frustrations (00:22:07) Jen explains the importance of addressing client frustrations and providing reassurance and solutions.

Differentiating Real and Fake Problems (00:22:58) Jen discusses the need to differentiate between real and fake problems and how to handle them effectively.

Managing Emotions and Communication (00:25:55) Jen emphasizes the importance of managing emotions, using effective communication, and avoiding unnecessary apologies.

Utilizing Manipulation for Positive Outcomes (00:32:27) Jen shares phrases and strategies to manipulate conversations positively and influence client perceptions.

Avoiding Over-Apologizing and Using Effective Communication (00:36:09) Jen advises on avoiding over-apologizing and using alternative phrases to communicate effectively with clients.

Differentiating Us and Them Problems (00:40:45) Jen discusses the need to take responsibility for client relationships and differentiate between genuine client issues and toxic clients.

Jerk Clients and Communication Issues (00:42:39) Dealing with difficult clients and recognizing communication issues in business.

Learning from Business Mistakes (00:43:33) Reflecting on past business mistakes and learning from them.

Taking Control of Your Business (00:44:13) Importance of maintaining control over business decisions and contracts.

Building a Successful Brand (00:46:18) Protecting and growing a brand through strategic business decisions.

Achieving Excellence in Business (00:47:03) Recognizing the impact of business changes on achieving excellence.

Connecting with the Speaker (00:48:05) Information on how to connect with the speaker and share feedback.

Reflection on the Conversation (00:48:42) Reflecting on the conversation and the value of learning to deal with difficult situations.


Jen: I think the mistake that I see people make and keep in mind just all of these years, I’ve seen a lot of things happen is that people just wake up one day and they’re like, Oh, I’m gonna have a bridal beauty team and all of a sudden they’re, you know, going from zero to 150 weddings and no staff to, you know, 20 steps, like, don’t go that fast.

I think that in most cases, that is going to be a huge mistake. You need a chance to course correct as you build and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, Wedding Business Marketing Expert, Speaker and Blogger, and you’re listening to the Wedding Pros Who Are Ready to Grow podcast.

I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, I’m going to be sharing with you some wonderful wedding business tips and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting with Jen Trotter. She’s known as the queen of bridal beauty in Dallas in Texas. Having run her lip service makeup business for the last 28 years, and trust me, looking at her, I can hardly believe that that’s possible, but she really has. And having worked with thousands of brides, Jen has seen it all.

So now using her bridal experience along with her communications background, she speaks on stages teaching other pros how to reduce and manage conflict and chaos in their business. We’re going to be digging deep into communication boundaries and why we need to stop over apologizing. And I just can’t wait to have that conversation because I know lots of you need to hear it.

Jen, welcome to the podcast.

Jen: Oh, thanks for having me, Becca. I’m so excited to be here. And Hello to all of my friends across the pond and all of your listeners.

Becca: It’s a pleasure to have you. And seriously, I know this podcast is not video recorded, it’s just audio. But there is no way you are old enough to have been in business that many years.

I need to have your skincare regime.

Jen: I do have a bit of a baby face. I always have had. But I’ll tell you my biggest skincare secret is I’m allergic to the sun. So I don’t do sun at all. And I never have. And, like, trust me, I would have, because I’m from the generation where we would lay out with baby oil, and my friends all did that, like, on space blankets and baked in the sun.

I’m from that generation, but I couldn’t do it because I burn so easy. I don’t really know why, I’m not that pale, but I’m allergic to the sun. And so, I’ve just always avoided the sun, and I didn’t really think too much of it until I turned about 35 or 40. I just realized I wasn’t really getting wrinkles yet and I was like, Hey, this is okay.

Then I stopped being mad. Okay, you’ve heard it here first. Then I stopped being mad that I was pale and I was like, I think I’m just going to be fine with being pale. It’s all good.

Becca: Side note, I don’t know how you can possibly avoid the sun living in Dallas, in Texas, because it’s like one of the sunniest places in the world.

You need to move to England because we have the clouds and the cold all the time.

Jen: I know. I live my life like a, like a British person probably.

Becca: That’s brilliant. Now for people that don’t know you, and I guess there’ll be a large percentage of my audience that don’t currently know who you are. I love to just get a bit of background because before we go into, you know, sharing your expertise, I think it’s important that people understand your background, understand where they, where you’ve come from, so they know why they should listen to you.

So let’s go right back. I’d love to know, how did you end up in weddings and in makeup in the first place?

Jen: Well, how I wound up as a professional makeup artist is an interesting story. When I was in my early twenties, I was actually a model and not really an actor, but I was a presenter. I hosted a local TV show.

I did marketing videos. So I was actually on air talent. So I, that was kind of like a little side business and I had a couple of different production companies that I worked with and I was on air talent and I would do my own hair and makeup. And one day, one of the production companies I worked for reached out and said, we’re shooting a commercial.

We would love for you to come and be our makeup artist. I was like, what? I don’t do that. And they’re like, yes, you do. You know exactly what to do. And on the shoot, we, we flew to Arizona and to a very swank resort and shot a commercial for Wyndham hotels. And during the shoot, they kind of told me the reason that they gave me a chance is they were like we knew you could figure out the hair and makeup part but you’re just, you’re fun, you’re nice, you’re easy to get along with, you’re Johnny on the spot, like, you’re excited, you’re just, we just wanted that energy on set and we knew you could figure out the rest.

So how cool is that, that they saw that in me and gave me a chance. I like to joke that I got my big break just by being a nice normal person, which isn’t really that sexy, but hey, I built a 30 year career on it. So, so for a couple of years I did commercials because having, I don’t know in the UK, but like here in the, in the States, we didn’t really have pro teams come out and do your wedding hair and makeup.

Back in the day, people would maybe go to their salon and get their hair done. Maybe their friend would do their makeup. Maybe if they were really fancy, they would go to Neiman Marcus or something. But it really didn’t start becoming a trend until about 26, 27 years ago. That is when people started to recognize like, I don’t want to go around to a salon.

I want to bring a team on site. I want people who do weddings all the time, and I want this to be a really smooth and luxurious process. And so when I started doing weddings, I was like, sold. This is, I love doing weddings, I love the connection, it’s a great fit for me because I’m really detail oriented.

So, the fact that I have a business background lends itself really well to working with brides, because you really need structure to work with brides successfully. And I just, I love it. And now, even now, we do, you know, anywhere from 200 to 250 weddings a year. Every year. We also do TV and film. We do I work with Dateline in 2020.

If you’re into murder shows, we can talk about that. I work with Dateline in 2020. We even did a season of Love is Blind for Netflix. We worked on Paramount’s 1883. Like we work on other stuff as well, but weddings are kind of the bread and butter and the main source of revenue for my team.

Becca: Wow. So you really do it all.

And I love that you’ve kept in with that TV and film industry a little bit as well, which is where your roots were right at the beginning. And it’s exciting. And yeah, as. As for Dateline, we don’t have it here. And I hear it talked about in podcasts that I listen to. True, cause I do love a bit of true crime.

I hear it talked about all of the time. They always refer to Dateline. Dateline, I’ve got no idea what it is.

Jen: You can probably access it on podcasts. They have a Dateline podcast. So if you can’t, if you don’t have it streaming on TV, you can probably find it online or on a podcast. So, is it just true crime stuff?

It’s true crime. And so, I only work for Dateline when they’re doing a crime that happened here in Dallas, Fort Worth. So, the most recent one I did was the story of a woman. She was out on the street and a truck ran up and gunned her husband down in the street. And she was like, Oh my God, my husband’s been killed, etc.

Well, come to find out it was her boyfriend and they had planned it. And so yeah, it was, it was quite the story. It was quite the story. So that was the last one that I worked on, and actually I worked on that story with Dateline and with 2020, oddly. But so when a crime happens here in Dallas Fort Worth, if they decide that they want to dig into it and profile it, they’re going to reach out to me and I’ll work with them.

Becca: Wow, what a great connection. And how different doing something like that is to doing a wedding, like two ends of the spectrum. The happiest thing and the saddest thing all at once. But I love that. guess from what you were saying and that this isn’t just you anymore. It’s not you just going out and doing all of these different jobs.

You would be crazy lady if you were that busy. So have you built a team at what point in your business did that come about and how did you make that decision?

Jen: That came about so up until 10 years ago, I worked full time and did hair and makeup on the side, which that. Even now saying that seems crazy because it was so busy and so nuts, but I was terrified to let go of a paycheck.

I just wanted that really steady income and it’s really scary and I’m sure a lot of other people have been in that scenario where you’re like, can I do this? Will it, will it support my family? Is, can I make this fly? And so, I was the director of Make A Wish in Fort Worth, which I’m sure you guys are familiar with Make A Wish.

We’ve got chapters there in the UK. And, I wound up leaving Make A Wish. I just was really burnt out after 10 years, and I really was doing a shift. I’d gotten divorced from my husband, and my whole life was doing a shift. And I decided to go all in on hair and makeup and everything just lined up. Like I landed a magazine cover.

I got nominated for an award. I started building a team. It just, everything came into place, letting me know that this was the right time to do it. So I’ve had a team now for about 12 years and I have 22 people on my team. Wow. So I have people on my team that sometimes I’ll send them out to do stuff one off.

I may, you know, if we have a corporate production or something, I’ll just send them. Sometimes we’re doing something all together, like a really big wedding. There could be five or six of us working together. Some people work with me every weekend, some people, you know, 20 or 30 times a year. But, yeah, I’ve got a really wonderful team of dedicated girls that I just adore.

Becca: Amazing. And I know that a lot of people resonate with that feeling of quitting a paycheck because even I, I hung on to a little part time job for ages because there’s something about knowing that you’re definitely getting that money that feels really appealing. But I’m assuming you’ve got no regrets now having taken that leap.

Jen: No, no, not at all. And the thing about it is, is it, I know that it’s really scary because I was terrified. But there’s no way I could have developed and grown and turned my business into what it is without letting go of that, without letting go of another job. Because physically, you can only do so much.

Mentally, you can only do so much. You only have so much time in any given day. So if you are not all in and devoting your time, it’s just you can’t grow and turn it into So, no, I have no regrets at all, but I will never forget the very first time like I didn’t have a paycheck and I was like, Oh, the word, please, please let this be okay.

And it has been, it’s been wonderful. We’ve been successful and busy the whole time. Thankfully. Yeah.

Becca: And there’s something about that that actually drives us forward because there is no option not to do the work. When we’ve let go of that kind of comfort blanket, it’s like, okay, well now I really need to go all in on this because this has to work.

And as I say to my pros all the time, you know, if it doesn’t work out, you can always go get a job again. Like it’s not like you’ve given up job forever.

Jen: Well, and I kind of, you know, I was like, I just kind of need a sign that this is the right thing to do. I was talking and by that point I had started dating my now husband.

And so he was watching me go through the struggle of what to do, what to do. And I was like, I just need a sign. I just need a sign. And literally in the course of two weeks, I landed a magazine cover. I landed a Tostitos commercial with Troy Aikman, who’s a Superbowl winner. I don’t know if you knew who that is, but a big deal.

I landed, I got nominated for a very prestigious award. It all happened in the course of like a week or two. And I was like, God, I hear you. I’m I’m in like, thanks for those signs. I can’t ignore it.

Becca: And in terms of your team, cause I know there’ll be some hair and makeup artists here in the UK, listening to this and thinking, Oh, I want to do that.

But I’m really scared about finding someone for my team. That’s as good as me or as reliable. Typically, how do you go about kind of having that quality control? Cause ultimately they’re going out under your name, under your brand.

Jen: Well, my best advice there is to go slow, like build your team very, very slowly.

Add somebody, make sure that they’re the right fit, get them situated, proven, get them really kind of integrated, and then consider adding another person and so on and so forth. Don’t go like, Oh, I need six P like, I think the mistake that I see people make and keep in mind, just all of these years, I’ve seen a lot of things happen.

Is that people just wake up one day and they’re like, Oh, I’m going to have a bridal beauty team. And all of a sudden they’re, you know, going from zero to 150 weddings and no staff to, you know, 20 stat, like, don’t go that fast. I think that in most cases that is going to be a huge mistake. You need a chance to course correct as you build and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

But most of the people that find their way to my team, they are aware of. How I run my business and the experience that I have for my brides and for my staff. And so they recognize like, I love lip services style. I love that. I mean, I pay really well. I treat my staff really well. I set up a great experience and set them up for success.

I handle the customer service with my clients, so it’s a very easy process for my staff. They show up, do hair and makeup, and go home. That makes a lot of consistency. And I have people helping me behind the scenes. I’ve got, you know, assistants that help me with email and assistants that help me on wedding day and stuff.

But when it comes to talking to clients, I do it all. And that might not work for everybody, I understand. But for me, the gift that it has given me is an incredibly consistent experience every time. So, so nowadays basically, like one of my girls on my team will usually be like, Hey, I worked with this girl the other day, and I think she’d be such a great fit for our team.

Can we try her out? And so I’ll reach out to that person. We’ve only got one guy. I mean, I would love to have more guys, but we only, at the moment, we only really have one. So I’ll reach out to that person, chat with them, see if they feel like a good fit, offer them some work, try to do it on an occasion where I’m going to be there as well so we can work together, and then see how it goes.

So I don’t really have to recruit and reach out, thankfully. My, my, my team is kind of doing it for me.

Becca: That’s fab advice. And I really know that there’ll be people listening to this, that will find that incredibly helpful. So thank you for digging into that. Now, I love what you said actually about how, yes, you’re, you’ve got this team going out and doing hair and makeup, but you’re still doing.

Most of the customer service and the communication now, obviously that fits in with what we’re talking about, because I know that you value that side of your business, which I guess is why you’re still doing it. And that that is kind of the key to not having this chaos and stuff going on in your business.

So you’ve obviously hung onto that. You’re the key communication contact. In the business. And you’re now going out and talking to other wedding pros about this subject. Now, what gives you the expertise? What, what is it that makes you think, yeah, I’m good at communication. I know that I mentioned in the bio that you’ve worked in that area.

Like talk to me more about your experience in that, in that field.

Jen: Part of it is honestly, just naturally my personality. I’ve been a boss at every job I’ve ever had. When I was 18, I was a company trainer for a restaurant. I traveled. All around Texas, training all the other servers, how to be servers. I’ve always been in charge of things, and I’ve always been a teacher.

I’ve done a lot of corporate training, and I have a background in conflict resolution. So, when I worked at Make A Wish, for example, one of my jobs was to teach volunteers how to go out and visit with families, how to connect, how to find out what the child’s wish was, how to handle awkward conversations.

Like, you show up to a Wish family’s house, and they’re like, Hey, glad you’re here. Can you pay all our bills? Like you can’t just blink back at them. You’ve got to know you’ve got to have a strategy of what to say and how to handle those awkward conversations. So that has been part of every job I’ve ever had.

My last paid position, I was a PR executive, and so I just have a background in communications. But I use all of that in how I run my business, which is why it’s really different. And I think that a lot of people who are creatives, whether you’re a photographer, a DJ, etc. If you have not worked in a corporate setting, if you’ve worked in a corporate setting, you have been exposed to some of the structure around, when this happens, we do this.

If this happens, we say this. If we have this problem, this is how we fix it. If you, if you’ve worked in a corporate setting, you’ve been exposed to that. But if you have a fine arts degree and you’ve been a photographer and that’s all you’ve ever done, you haven’t been exposed to that. So what I want to do is help other creative people bring that structure and that customer service into their business.

And something, and this is pretty radical, but like, I feel like we spend so much time talking about marketing, branding. finances, social media, like all of these things, but people spend zero time managing their communication and reducing their conflict. And that will take your business down. I’ve seen it happen.

What, what I mean by that, it could be things like, I’ll give an example to my own business. Pretend there’s this other bridal beauty team that’s not lip service. They might do beautiful hair and makeup. They’ve got really talented people who do great hair and makeup, but maybe they walk in the door wearing shorts and t shirts looking like they’re ready to wash the car.

Maybe they don’t have their hair and makeup done and they embarrass the bride and her family. And she’s like, Oh my God, this is my hair and makeup team. Maybe they put in their headphones and don’t talk to anybody. Maybe if someone says, Oh, I’d like this tweaked, they’re rude and on and on and on. So those people could deliver services.

In that way, and it would be a terrible experience, even though the hair and makeup still look great. So, you can, you can you know, flip that over to any category. A photographer, a DJ, a florist, a planner, etc. You can do the tasks. You can accomplish the tasks. You could create these beautiful florals and all the things.

But if you neglect how your client feels and how they feel about working with you, your business will not be sustainable and it will not be long term. And I’ve seen a lot of very talented people over the years who are not bad people. They’re not like they’re not doing anything shady. It’s not that.

It’s just they just don’t know how to manage it. And all of a sudden they’ve got clients they’re complaining about or vendor partners that they’re having fights with. Or bad reviews, or at the extreme end of it, maybe legal issues because they didn’t handle something well. And all of a sudden they’re like, forget it, I’m out, I can’t be a planner anymore, this sucks.

And that is the gift that I want to give people when I’m speaking, when I’m talking on podcasts. That is the gift that I want to give people, is the tools. To have a sustainable business for a long period of time that has the least amount of stress and chaos possible And might I say also i’m sorry. My voice is so croaky.

I woke up not feeling great this morning So I promise I don’t I don’t smoke like five packs of cigarettes a day in my I’m just not feeling well,

Becca: it’s okay. We’re not judging you and we’re really enjoying. I’m hanging on to every word you’re saying. And to your point, I think it’s really interesting because actually what I see in my own experience is often people don’t realize they don’t have a strategy for dealing with this stuff until something comes to them.

So until they get a difficult client, until a client complains on email, and then they go into panic mode because they’re like, I don’t know what to do. I’m going to get a hundred bad reviews and they panic. So what I would love from you then is. You’re going to give us this gift of feeling more peaceful in our business.

I would love some practical ideas of how we can work on this stuff before it’s too late. How can we make sure we’ve got practices in our business to make sure that we know how we’re dealing with this conflict and chaos before it happens?

Jen: Well, the easiest thing you can do is look at your business and look at low hanging fruit.

And by that, I mean, is there something that people are confused about? Like, does every client say, I don’t understand this form? Or, I don’t get this on the contract. Is there something that is hinky at the beginning of the pro like, look at your process start to finish. Is there anything that people complain about or you feel like you’re always having to manage?

If so, dive there first, dig into that stuff, and fix it. So what that could mean is, like, if you own a venue and you’re a front facing person who takes the phone calls, If they’re unpleasant and rude, maybe they need to do something behind the scenes and get someone else in that position. Don’t cut yourself off at the knees.

So look at your low hanging fruit from the beginning of the process. Is there anything that it’s easy to fix? Like, say, in your contract, you don’t really explain something well. So after the fact, people are always like, Well, I didn’t know. I didn’t know that this didn’t work this way. Go back to the contract, clear that up, and fix it, so that you don’t have to deal with the crap later.

That’s the first thing you gotta do. But one of the most important things you have to do Is really think about tools so that every time you have an issue of some sort, you can open up your toolbox and dig in and pull them out. So, for example, if you have someone who is irritated, maybe you missed a phone call and now they’re like, Hey, I called you.

Now I’m calling you again. Do not panic. Instead, figure out what’s going on. Are they just a little bit frustrated or did you really screw up and you really have to dig in and do some, do some work to fix it? What’s happening? Because I think so often people just wig and for example, in that scenario I just gave you, like if someone’s like, Hey, I’ve tried to call you, you didn’t call me back.

The proper response is to call them as quickly as you can say, Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I missed your call. What can I do for you? They don’t need, you don’t need to fall on a sword and be like, Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. When you do that, that’s about you, it’s not about your client. When you’re going, Oh my God, I’m like, that’s, you’re not focused on your client.

You should always be focused on your client and what you need to make that process go smoothly. They don’t care about all your excuses and your BS. Like, just say, I’m so sorry, what can I do for you? I’m here to help you now. What, what can I do? And roll on, roll on with the solution. So that’s at the most, like, basic, basic level.

Now, let’s go forward to other hinky things. Like, you’ve got someone who, maybe they didn’t understand something, or they think something’s too expensive, or they’re irritated. Like, you really know that they are irritated. The important thing to understand here, and this is gonna sound strange, but hear me out.

You’ve gotta figure out, is it a real problem? Or is it a fake problem? What I mean by that is Are they are they having a bad day? Are they taking their frustrations out on you in my case with hair and makeup? Are they just feeling insecure about their looks or something? Those are not real problems that can be fixed with real world solutions Okay So i’ll give you an example.

I had a mother of a bride who was very high anxiety And just wearing out all of the vendors. And she just ran very high, wanted everything to be perfect. And she called the planner about two weeks before the wedding and said to the planner, she goes, Jif is trying to screw me over. She’s not going to be there in enough time.

She’s not going to bring enough people. None of that was true. Okay, the planner called me told me this was happening. So how do you think I felt? I was pissed. I was super angry, but I got out my toolbox and I was like, okay, use my tools. This is not a real problem. This, what she’s saying is not true. I have everything under control.

What’s happening is she is filled with anxiety. It landed in my direction that day. So I cannot try to fix her problem with a real world solution because there isn’t a real world solution. There’s no, does that make sense? Yeah, it makes total sense. I mean, this is, this is kind of a radical thing to talk about because I’ve never heard anyone else talk about this.

But you really have to think about like, If they’re mad because some you didn’t call them, that’s real. You can make sure you call them on time because that’s a real solution. If someone is just pointing their frustration. Maybe their mother is really giving them grief about the expense of the wedding and they’re stressed out.

Maybe they’re just having a really terrible day. If they’re just pointing frustration in your direction, that is not real. It’s not that it’s not important, but it’s not, you can’t fix it with a real world solution. So I think it’s very important to understand. So I called her. And what a lot of people would do in that situation, they would just let that sit and be like, Oh, I don’t want to talk to that lady.

She’s crazy. She’s like saying terrible things like she’s a jerk. I don’t want, I don’t want to talk to her. Hell no. I dropped what I was doing and picked up the phone right then. Why? Because that’s like a tornado spinning. If I let that spin all night long, it’s just getting bigger and bigger and picking up debris as it goes.

So I called her right then. I mean I waited 15 minutes because I was pissed. I had to get myself situated. But I called her and I just said, hey, how are you doing? I know you’re really stressed out and you want everything to be perfect, but you know, I have this under control. Remember we talked about this?

Remember we talked about how many people I’m bringing? Remember we talked, it’s all set. I have it all under control and I know that you know that. But I totally get that you’re really wound up. It’s fine. I understand. And she was like, Jen, I’m so sorry. I just, I’m just having one of those days. I’m so sorry.

And I was like, it’s totally fine. The next time I saw her was two weeks later on wedding day. Giant hug. So happy to see me. Everything went perfect and smooth. Big tit. Like, sometimes that’s what you have to do. But if you make the mistake of avoiding it because you’re scared, That’s gonna, imaginary problem will start to feel real.

Or, if you get on your computer and you’re like, Remember, Susie Q, that I have everything in place. If you get, she’ll hear it defensively. Even if you don’t mean it defensively, it’s gonna sound defensive. Pick up the phone. You have got to pick up the phone. And also, I was not, I didn’t apologize. Why, why didn’t I apologize, Becca?

Because you hadn’t done anything wrong. Yes. Ding, ding, ding. I had not done anything wrong. There is nothing to apologize for when you have not done anything wrong. So I did not approach that phone conversation like, I’m so sorry. Like a kick dog. Like, you’re gonna be mean, so I’m a kick dog. No. No. I see it for what it is.

She’s a very nice woman. She is. She’s really kind and very sweet. Who just runs at a super high level of anxiety. It landed, it’s landed on other vendors at other times, but it was my turn, I guess. So, no, I came, I came into that conversation confident and, and like, Hey, I got this, but I, I let her hear my voice, which again, sounds so scratchy right now, but I let her hear the kindness and warmth in my voice.

And I just said, it’s fine. I’m not upset. I get what you’re going through, but it’s all under control. It’s all under control.

Becca: And sometimes it’s just reassurance, isn’t it? Because I think we forget because we’re in this wedding world all of the time. We forget what a big deal it is for the families, what a big amount of money it is that they’re spending on this event, how much pressure different members of the party are feeling about this day, and I think sometimes they do take it out on us and we have to remember because I think our default position, and this is why your example is so good and it’s important for us to think our default position is.

Well, I must be the one in the wrong. I, oh, I need to supply an extra hair and makeup person. I need to get there early and we try and fix it. But exactly as you’re saying, we don’t need to fix it. We’re the expert. And actually what they’re looking for isn’t an additional makeup artist. It’s just reassurance that everything’s going to be okay.

Jen: Right. And it’s important to learn how to, to figure out. Is this a real world problem that can be solved with a real world solution? You know, I I’ve had other people that maybe we set things up with two artists and we’ve got this amount of time and like the bride might call me and be like, you know, I’m just anxious.

Like, I just really want to be sure we have enough time. Well, in that case, I can say to her, Yeah, you can pay an extra fee. I’ll bring a third artist. If that’ll make you feel better, let’s do that. Because her, her, not problem, but her concern has a real world solution. So I can easily, again, I’m not going to apologize, If that’s going to make her feel better, Hell yeah, let’s do it.

Why not? But I think the most important thing to learn is how to really look at each of these scenarios. And figure out what’s going on here and not take it personally. Like, can you imagine how I felt when that planner called me? Like she said, I’m screwing her over. Are you kidding me? Like that’s. That’s not nice.

Like, I was angry, but me being, sitting in my feelings and being angry is not going to help in any way, shape or form. So, me feeling angry will get in the way of me using my tools and having a clear head. So, it’s okay to be angry when someone pisses you off or is rude to you or is ridiculous or just a general pain in the butt.

Like, it’s fine to feel angry or upset or annoyed or However you feel, that’s cool. But the way I always think of it, I’m a big visualizer, but I visualize, I’m gonna feel my feelings and I’m, I’m gonna, yeah, I’m valid being pissed right now, but then I’m gonna put that in a box and I’m gonna be like, I’m gonna put it over here.

I’m gonna put it over to the side now. Now I’ve got a clear head. What do I do to make this situation? What, what am I gonna do to resolve this? Because I mean, yeah, I could have called her back and been like, I can’t believe you said that that was not nice, and blah, blah. What is that going to do for me?

What is that going to do? It’s going to make me look bad to the planner, who’s a really great planner. We’ve been friends for forever. She trusts me and respects me. So when this happened, she was not the least bit worried. She knew that I knew how to solve it. And that is gold. That is gold. When your vendor partners, when there’s a situation like this, and they’re like, Hey, Jen, I know this chick is being ridiculous.

Can you take They know that I can take care of it. They know that I can. And that is fantastic and so helpful for my long term vendor relationships. It’s really, really helpful for those long term vendor relationships.

Becca: I’m so glad you’re talking about this subject because you’re right. We don’t talk about this kind of thing enough in any way, shape or form.

And one of the things I say a lot to my clients, they’ll email me and they’ll forward me an email that they’ve had. And they’re like to do. And the first thing I say is take the emotion out of it. Right. It’s not, they’re not having a go at you, like just look at it logically. So when you talk about referring to your toolkit, are you saying like, just take some time, go through this logically?

Like what, what do you mean by that?

Jen: What I mean by that is like when I do a presentation at CaterSource, Wedding MBA, et cetera, in each of those talks, I’m giving people specific tools. Like just now in this conversation, I’m giving you tools, go for the low hanging fruit, fix issues before they start. You know, I’m giving you a set of tools, right?

So all of those tools of things I have learned over time, I keep all that stuff in a mental toolkit so that when something happens, I’m like, okay, I know how to fix it. I just got to think about All the strategies I know, how, what’s the strategy that’s going to take care of this. So, one thing that I love to do when I speak, is give people real words and phrases.

Do you want to hear a couple of them? Yes, I would love to. Okay, because like, whenever you go to a presentation, don’t you get annoyed when like, You feel like you’re just, they’re just a talking motivational poster and you’re like, give me something real, like give me, give me something I can walk out of here and use today, right?

That’s how I always feel. So, I always include in my talk real words and phrases. One of my favorite ones is, I’m sure you can understand. This is genius, and let me tell you how this works. When someone says to you, I want to do this, I want to do that, and in your head you’re like, Yeah, that doesn’t work that way.

Instead of saying, yeah, no, I don’t want to do that. You can say, well, I’m sure you can understand that in order to take a booking, we’ve got to have a minimum because we’re full time florists and weddings are our primary form of business. So I’m sure you can understand that. This is why it is so freaking magical because when you say, I’m sure you can understand.

This is actually manipulation, which I have to say this really quick. Do not be afraid of the word manipulation. Don’t be scared of it. Manipulation is only bad if you’re trying to pull something over on somebody. In this context, we’re talking about manipulation to help people feel the way they already want to.

Kind of like when you go to a spa and they’ve got the soft music and you go to a restaurant and they’ve got beautiful decor. It’s that, that kind of manipulation. We’re trying to help them feel the way they want. So, when you say, I’m sure you can understand, you’re saying, Oh my gosh, you’re a smart person and you’re reasonable.

So, of course, when I say this to you, you’re going to understand. They don’t want to come back and say, Nope, I’m too dumb. I don’t get it. And it works for every situation. It even works at home, to be honest with you, which is pretty funny. I use it on my husband sometimes. So, that’s a phrase that I absolutely love.

Another one that I really love is, Oh, I can totally see why you’d ask that. Let me explain how that works. That would be something like, maybe if you’re a florist, they want, they’re, they’re trying to do this huge installation, and they don’t want to pay for extra staff. Maybe you’ve got, like, I don’t know, three hours to set it up, and so you’ve told them this is how many staff members we’re going to need to pull this off.

And they’re like, well, I don’t understand, why can’t you just do it with this many people? And you could say, I totally see why it might look that way, but I’m going to walk you through it, and I’m going to explain it, and I’m sure it’s going to make perfect sense to you. It’s kind of a little bit like, I’m sure you can understand, here’s why that phrase works.

That works because you’re not insulting them. You’re not making them feel like they just asked you a dumb question, because it’s not dumb. They don’t know. It’s your job to educate. But more importantly, when you say, I’m going to walk you through it and it’s going to make perfect sense, you’re manipulating them again.

You’re saying, I’m going to tell you this and this is how you’re going to feel about it. And they are going to feel that way about it. It’s like magic for real. But also you’re giving them a peek behind the curtain. You’re helping them feel kind of in the know to the wedding industry. And people love that.

They love to feel like, Oh, now I have a better understanding of how it all works. So you’re doing several things at the same time. Does that make sense?

Becca: It makes perfect sense. I love these phrases.

Jen: Yeah. These things are all so much more effective than just saying, no, we don’t do that. Or no, it doesn’t work that way.

So when we hopped on before we started recording, you’d asked me about over apologizing. You want to get into that real quick before we wrap up?

Becca: Yeah, I would love to get into that a little bit because I think it’s easy to start an email to someone saying, I’m so sorry, or so like, and I’m always thinking, what can we say instead of that?

Jen: Okay. So here’s the thing to remember. It is always fine and appropriate. If you have screwed up, it is always fine to say, I’m so sorry, or. Oh my gosh, like I apologize for doing that. That’s always fine if you have screwed up, but you need to save that for times when you’ve screwed up only, okay? Another phrase that I really want for people to ban is unfortunately.

Now this is why. So like if you say to me, if you’re hiring me to do hair and makeup for something and you’re like, well I want to do hair and makeup for this many people and I want this, Rate and I’m like that’s no that’s not my rate. I charge more than that. Well if I say well, unfortunately, I don’t offer discounts That’s very like, wah, wah, wah.

You’re not getting what you want. You feel very like, I didn’t get what I wanted out of this interchange at all. Instead, I’m going to say, I totally understand, I mean, I’ve got budgets too, things I want to pay for, and I get that this is not cheap necessarily, but I guarantee that if you hire us to do this job for you, you’re going to love your hair and makeup.

We’re going to make it a smooth and easy process. So, if you decide you want a book, we would absolutely love to work with you. How much better does that feel? So much better.

Becca: So, we’re banning the word unfortunately.

Jen: Well, and particularly when it’s not accurate. So, if someone says, can you do this? I’m not going to say unfortunately we can’t because generally that’s, it’s not unfortunate.

It’s, it’s not unfortunate that I’m not giving you a discount. I don’t do discounts. Discounts are stupid. I’m just going to say now, let me, let me qualify for, for different things, like for different categories, it could make sense. Particularly like venues, venues are going to discount during off season.

That’s very standard. People are going to do that. If you, you know, depending on what you do for a living, if you’re like, I really need to book something and I want to create a special so I can get a couple more bookings under my belt. I totally understand that, but generally what I mean by discounts don’t make sense or they’re stupid is when someone comes at you and they’re like, I really want your goods and services and you’re like, here is my price and they’re like, well, I want that, but I don’t want to pay it.

That’s when it makes no sense to me. That’s ridiculous. Where else in your life can you do that? Can you go down, pop down to the shop and say like I want all these snacks and treats, but I don’t want to pay for it. No, you can’t, you can’t go into Christian Louboutin and be like, Oh, I know these shoes are 1, 200, but I really want to pay 600.

They look at you like you’re insane. So it’s not, it’s not unfortunate that I can’t offer you a discount. It’s not unfortunate at all. But I, instead of saying no, we don’t do that. No, no, no, no, no. Or being combative, I say, I totally get it. I completely understand. If you’re just at the beginning of shopping around for your wedding hair and makeup, I hope you’ll come back.

We’d really love to work with you. And guess what? They do.

Becca: Yes, they do. I love that. And you’re preaching to the converted here because I talk a lot about discounting. I have a phrase I am known for saying, which is Disney never discount. Cause if you want to go to magic kingdom, you are paying that price and it is the price you’ve got to pay and there is no discount to be found.

Jen: No, exactly. And I, I always think and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying discounts are stupid. So I just really want to qualify what I’m saying. I just think that if you choose to discount because it benefits you, it’s something you want to do. Go for it, but it doesn’t make sense when you are presenting a price and someone is pushing on you for a discount.

That’s when it makes no sense. If it’s something you want to do because it behooves you to do it for whatever reason, then that’s different. But when someone’s pushing at you and basically what they’re saying is. I really want all your stuff, but I don’t value it enough, so I don’t want to pay for it. Why would you, why would you offer someone who thinks that about you?

Why would you give them a discount? It makes no sense.

Becca: Absolutely. Now, before we wrap up, there’s one little thing I want to talk about, which is how do we differentiate with all of this stuff, the chaos of the conflict? How do we differentiate whether it’s an us problem or a them problem? How do we know whether, because it’s easy for us to go, our clients are so stupid and all blah, blah, blah.

But how do we know when actually maybe it’s something we need to fix rather than it’s a them problem?

Jen: I think most of the time it falls into our hands. I really do. Now I do a couple talks on toxic clients and I did a lot of research for it and honestly toxic clients are pretty rare. When you think about it this way, if you have a hundred clients over the course of the year, How many of those people are sitting around going, I’m gonna find a florist and I’m gonna screw her over.

I’m gonna give her grief and make her life difficult. It’s, that is a, that is, people aren’t doing that. They are hiring you for goods and services because they want your goods and services. They are not trying to be toxic. People can become difficult or toxic. If you don’t make it easy to work with you, if you don’t make things clear, if you don’t, if you see a problem, like maybe they’re a bully, they’re kind of natural, maybe they were raised that way, they were raised to really push the boundaries and ask for a lot of stuff or whatever.

If you don’t manage those people, they can get out of hand, they can really get out of hand. Now having said that, you can do everything perfect and right and have a toxic client. That can happen to absolutely anybody. Because occasionally I had a toxic client last year and just, I saw the red flags and I took it on anyway and I regretted it, but literally she was a pain in the ass to every single vendor she was dealing with.

And so she was one of those random, truly just a toxic, probably toxic with every vendor she deals with in every aspect of her life. I mean, all the rest of my clients over the course of the year, no, they’re just, they’re doing what they do and I’m using my tools and I’m keeping him happy. And to me, if I have a lot of people giving me grief, that’s on me.

It really is. People ask me all the time, like they’re sitting in my chair and when I’m doing their makeup, they’re like, do you have bridezilla stories? I’m like, not really. And they’re shocked. They’re like, you don’t? I’m like, you know, if I had a, I have funny stories. I have a lot of funny stories for sure.

Like just goofy things that have happened and things that make us laugh. But if I had a lot of jerk clients, it’s That would be a reflection on me and the way that I run my business and I can be hard for people to hear that because It can be easier to sit back and be like it’s just all those people.

It’s all those people. It’s all those people and Again, it can happen to anybody So don’t don’t beat yourself up if over the course of a year You’ve got someone who’s a jerk or a couple of people who are jerks. It’s just gonna happen but if you routinely hear things like well, I didn’t understand that Or you routinely are getting bad reviews, or you routinely are having a conflict with a vendor partner who’s kind of pissed at you or doesn’t understand something.

If you’re having these bits and pieces of conflict everywhere along the way, that is due to communication issues. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’re not a capable person. Doesn’t mean you’re not a smart person. It doesn’t mean you’re not fantastic at what you do. Like I said, it could simply be that no one ever taught you these tools.

No one ever taught you how to manage these things to reduce the chaos.

Becca: Jen, this has been such a fantastic conversation. I’ve really enjoyed going deep in all these different areas. Thank you so much for your time. Now we always end the podcast with the same question, which I’m going to post you now, which is what’s one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Jen: Okay, one thing I wish I had known sooner in my own business, I wish I had known to always keep control of my business. Because when I was doing it part time, I used to give hair referrals to somebody. I didn’t take a cut, and I didn’t man it like she would have her own contract. And something that I wish I would have known early in my business, is to always keep control of your business and don’t let other people interfere with that.

And I’ll give you a specific example, and it was really my naivete and just not thinking about my business in that way. But when I first started out, I mainly did makeup. I did hair and makeup for commercial work and etcetera, but I didn’t really do wedding styling. I didn’t really want to. So I would just, you know, give referrals to local hairstylists.

Well, I had this one girl, I started giving her referrals. And in my naivete, I was just like, okay, she does, she does hair. I do makeup. It’s going to be fine. Well, she really honestly screwed me over. She, I mean, all of her business was coming from me. I wasn’t taking a cut and I didn’t have control over that situation.

And I just didn’t know I was just naive. And I didn’t know what I should have done. It said, do you want to be a contractor for me? And do you want to come work this wedding? I’ll create this contract. I will work with my client. If you want to show up and do hair, I will pay you this rate. And it’s going to be a rate that includes a cut.

I should have never ever. I mean, it’s fine. Like, she didn’t wind up hurting my business. She just kind of screwed me over. I thought we were friends and really she just was Taking all the information that I was giving her and the marketing information and trying to start her own business, which didn’t work.

She’s out of business. She’s not successful. But I just didn’t, once I saw it after the fact, I was like, hindsight’s 2020, this is what I should have done. But she did me a favor because from that point, I was like, okay, I’m putting my arms around this. I have built this brand. I’m going to make sure that I protect this brand at all costs.

So I am going to choose my contractors. I’m going to have that contract. I’m going to deal with the client and make sure she’s getting a consistent experience. And I am going to make sure that I’m getting a cut of all of this business that I’m farming out. And so I did that and that from that point.

Like, lip service just really exploded. And so, I want to tell you something kind of fun. So here in Dallas Fort Worth, there’s an award called the Vendy Award. It’s from an organization called the AACWP, which is all the planners in DFW. And every year they vote for the best of the best in all of the categories.

And we have won that award for the last five years in a row. That’s amazing. So we’re now we’re now we’re going into the hall of fame. That’s awesome. So that’s so good. I don’t think that I don’t think I could have grown my business. I don’t think I could have achieved that level of excellence without making those big changes, you know, that was.

10, 12 years ago that I had that negative experience. I was like, okay, this isn’t working and I’ve got to completely shift. But honestly, it really was a favor because then I saw the correct way to do it. I just wish that I had known from the beginning to do it that way.

Becca: Yeah. Such good advice. We live and we learn, but look at all you’ve achieved in the time since that.

Jen, it’s been so great chatting with you. If people want to find out more about you and what you do, where’s the best place for them to connect with you?

Jen: They can connect with me everywhere at Lip Service Makeup. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, tick tock, all the places, lip service, makeup. That’s my bridal beauty business.

And then also they can find me at the Jen Trotter on Facebook. And, and of course I have websites too, for both of these lip service and the Jen Trotter. But also on Instagram, that’s for the Jen Trotter and Facebook. I don’t have a TikTok for my speaking yet. But that’s where they can find me. I would love to connect and I would love to hear from anyone listening to this podcast what they learned or if they tried any of those techniques and how it went.

I would love to know that.

Becca: Awesome. I will make sure I put all of your links in the show notes so that people can reach out to you. And if you’re listening to this and something’s resonated or you’ve got further questions, do you reach out to Jen and let her know where you’ve used some of these phrases.

It’s been such a pleasure. I hope to see you somewhere soon.

Jen: Yes, thanks so much for having me, Becca. It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

Becca: I love that conversation with Jen. Isn’t she amazing? Such an interesting subject to delve into and something that, as she says, we don’t talk about enough. I hope that you’ve now got some more tools in your toolkit to deal with some of these difficult situations.

And remember that phrase, I’m sure you can understand because that is gold dust. I’ll see you next time.

Becca xo


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