We’ve all been there.
You get an inquiry and you can tell they aren’t “your couple.” Maybe the budget is way below your average or they’re really looking for a decorator – not a designer. Or maybe you’ve had a consultation and you’re getting some major red flags. It’s 100% okay to say “no” to potential clients.
But how do you say “no” without hurting feelings or being rude? How do you actually make it sound like you’re doing them a favor (which you are, by the way) instead of dismissing them and all of their wedding dreams?
I’m going to walk you through the four steps I used to craft my own graceful, decline email so you can write your own reflecting your voice and business. Be sure to stay around for the end of the post where you can get a hold of a made-for-you email template.
Ready to say “no” with confidence? (And grace!) You got this!
Step 1: Thank them for their interest in working with you
I always start off with this. Whether it’s an initial inquiry response, when a client is requesting a contract, or even when I’m letting the down gently. As small business owners, we are grateful for every potential client who walks in the (virtual) door. Whether or not they are our ideal fit does not change the fact that they are an actual, live human interested in working with YOU.
Step 2: Be Honest – but concise
Let them know that your services will not fit their needs. You don’t need to give a long winded explanation. Keep it short and not personal. There’s no need to tell them that you find their color palette so over done or that their budget is less than half of what your clients usually spend. Instead let them know that you see that you won’t be a good fit and it’d be a disservice for you to take their money.
Step 3: Set them up for success
This might be the most kind and crucial step of this email. Don’t leave them hanging and back at square one now that you aren’t a right fit. Give them a genuine recommendation for where they can go next. If they were looking for a decorator, have a list of trusted decorators in your back pocket that you can send them to. If they weren’t your style, send them to someone who loves that style. Set them up for success by saying “I’m not it, but let me introduce you to someone who might be.”
Step 4: Wish them the best and disengage
While we want to be kind and graceful in our interaction with these potential couples, we also want to be firm. End your email by sending them off with well wishes, but don’t leave any ambiguity that you will not become their planner.
Want to get your hands on a ready-to-go template?
In this freebie, you’ll find the exact same email template I use to take a bad fit potential client and make them feel taken care of even as I’m “rejecting” them. (Psst… I’m also throwing in two extras for turning down collaboration opportunities and coffee dates).
You can use this template as is by completing the fill-in-the-blanks or tweak it to fit your business, situation, and brand voice. This isn’t about copy and pasting what is working for someone else, it is about speaking directly to your potential client by providing them with the information, value, and responsiveness they expect from a professional wedding planner.