Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, I am Akshay Patel from Albuquerque, NM the land of enchantment. I started an event rental and decor company that led me to an event venue. The View Event Center is a lavish space that is an indoor and outdoor event venue with panoramic city views. Our high-end venue with experienced staff will assist from venue decor to the smallest details entailed in making memories of a lifetime. Simply Decor, Tents, and Events ensures exclusive decor and thrives to bring your event to life through customized, elegant decor for all of their clients.
The full-service company will individually work with every client to design their event that will intrigue every eye in the room. Our company is broad that we get many different types of customers and we make many great connections with them as well. The company was making upwards of $380,000 a year.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I always had an eye for decor whether it was with my room, home, or anything. I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, and went to college at the University of New Mexico where I got my bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in Psychology. All along with my schooling, I was following the path to becoming a dentist which I thought was my passion and what I enjoyed. When I graduated high school I wanted to throw myself a big party. So my dad gave me a budget of $3,000 which had to include the venue, DJ, catering, bar, and decor.
I learned that when advertising you have to try different and unique ideas. From this you will learn what will work for your specific clientele, this process is a trial and error.
Of course, you know when you want a real fancy party the venue usually takes most of the budget, as it did. I was left with $200 for decor. I then began talking to decor companies and found that everything I wanted was not going to be possible with that amount. I thought out of the box and began making all my own decor.
Instead of charger plates I made paper placemats, I made the centerpieces, party favors, and even did fabric draping in the ceiling and a backdrop for my table. While I was setting up my event the hotel event manager was giving a tour of the venue to a bride. The bride asked the manager about who did the decor since she needed a decorator. The manager then introduced the bride to me and we began talking. I told her I would love to decorate her event.
I took $500 from my savings and bought everything she needed and began making all the decorations. From her event, I got 2 more events and then it just took off into a full-blown business.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Once I decided this is what I wanted to do. I then began to do wedding expos and advertising which helped us see an influx of customers. I then began to design a free website which we used for many years and then eventually turned it into an actual website.
I was a solo team at the first and had family and friends help me with the events. It took me about 3 years before we started to hire employees to help us with events.
When I first started I did not have a clue of how to price items and services. I would see how much the total event would cost me and marked it up 20%, as I did more events we kept marking up the price and finally learned the pricing strategies.
Everything was stored in my garage and just labeled with bins at first. Then, 3 years after starting we bought small container storage that we used for many years. In 2018 we bought our first warehouse that is 16,000 square feet and have everything organized.
In the beginning, I pretty much offered everything and never said no, as I learned what made more money I then decided to put most of my attention to those areas.
During the process we did not finance or take any loans for the company; we only used the profit we made off of past events to grow our inventory. What I learned from this experience was that you have to spend money to make money which was a very hard thing for me to do, because of the uncertainty of making a profit.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Once the company was launched and on the path of growth, I then decided to get familiar with social media advertising. I watched many Youtube videos to learn what to post so the customers would engage with the posts. I took additional steps to advertise on social media and other internet browsers, as well as getting listed on other platforms that would drive traffic for our specific clientele. We started seeing that 40% of our clientele were coming from our social media advertising, 30% from expos, and 30% from online marketing such as google, yahoo, and other platforms.
I learned that when advertising you have to try different and unique ideas such as wedding guides, convention guides, and many random websites that I researched. From this you will learn what will work for your specific clientele, this process is a trial and error.
What I learned is what works for others might not also work for you. You have to take a leap of faith and try different things and see what works. One time we ordered these chapsticks and pens that were personalized with our company name and contact information and were handing them out. We put a blurb on there to bring this item back in to receive a discount. Over 2 years of doing that we did not see a single client bring those in. I think we took that budget away and put it towards social media advertising which was more effective for our company.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future of the company looks great. We have found the perfect niche and it is working for us. Our growth margins have increased year after year and our return on our costs of ads was getting covered. I always kept track of how the customer found us so I knew what was working and what was not. Our average ticket price is around $2,000 and we have added more upgrades and tiers in quality to make the average ticket higher.
We also signed up with a web designer and a host so we can keep track of how many people visit the site and the amount of time they spend on it. We noticed if you have a design center online that helps the clients they will spend more time on the site.
We also offer a FAQ which also helps because many of their questions get answered quickly and efficiently. We are always expanding and getting more inventory so we can have a more diverse clientele that is the main goal. You always want to be on track and ahead of the game. We always have the newest and best equipment in town because times are changing.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
What we have noticed that was the most helpful for the growth of the company was to stand your ground and be innovative. Of course, when you look back there are always things that you can do better or mistakes that you can fix. We started seeing what brides wanted and found out there are more efficient ways of doing it. This means more profit because you can get more done in the same amount of time.
I used to always pick the best advertising package that was offered and noticed sometimes the best and most expensive options don't always pay off. Our advertising budget used to be over 20k now we use about 5k and are getting more traffic than before. We did not use an advertising agency or any platform. For example, for expos, there would be 3 booth types. One is just a high boy table, another being a 10x10 booth, and lastly a 10x20 booth with a sponsor position. We would go with package 3 because it gave us the most advertising and space to showcase all of our items and services.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our company started with Wix where we had our first free website once we were established we moved to godaddy.com which was very helpful since they have many tools available.
For someone like me who is not that tech-savvy or did not know what an SEO was this was very helpful and worth every dollar. We started with a general Yahoo email and then began getting emails with our company name which is specific for each department. This helped us keep everything organized and easy to find.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Always follow your dreams and whatever you enjoy doing, put 100% of your time and energy in it and you will succeed. Do not listen to anyone that gives you negative comments about your idea. If you have the dedication and compassion for what you do you will succeed. I have seen many people fail in business because they get too big too quickly. We used to work out of our house shed and garage that was our warehouse. We just recently got a 9000sqft venue and an 18,000 sqft warehouse and showroom. It takes time and effort the slower you move the more successful you are.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Our company currently has most of its positions filled. We are currently looking for a warehouse manager that would overlook the entire rental and decor operation. They would be in charge of booking clients, hiring and firing employees, delivery schedules, and employee work schedules. They would need to make sure the business grows and makes a profit.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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