By Jennifer Respondi, Partner – EventPermits
As we all know all too well, working in the event industry can be an ever-changing terrain of optics, transparency, change orders, endless client calls, and yes, the ever dreaded “scope creep!” Throw in all the never-ending buzzwords, acronyms, and the “alphabet-soup” of city agencies that all want to play a role, or have a say in the planning of your event. You just might feel like you are playing the real-life version of “Whack-a-Mole.” All of these seemingly never-ending obstacles and pitfalls to navigate through, and it’s only 2 o’clock…on just the very first day of planning!
The fact is, we can’t all be experts at everything, and the smart money is on partnering with a results-driven entity who shares the same strategic goals as you and your client. There are no short-cuts when it comes to experiential activations if you want it done right, but what does that mean and how much is it going to cost?
At the very least, it means that you are NOT cutting corners at your brand’s expense, and that you are taking all the necessary steps in order to ensure that your event (“their” event) is buttoned up from beginning to end, including the budget creation process, and the follow-up, while staying on budget. An involved Partner who shares your goals, will not only be able to assist you in creating an EXPERT, ACCURATE and REALISTIC Budget, but then they will do their part to keep you on-track in a collegial manner, in order to ensure that all parties work within the budget parameters that were presented to the client.
The seeds that you planted in your brainstorming sessions, production meetings, and venue research, then give life to feasibility, permitting and accurate budgets. And that is where your having the right Partner, working with you from the start, is critical to every successful event. How can you (or an intern) possibly know what the new regs are in Topeka, or what city advertising zone your banner will fall under, in Chicago…..and what does that even mean?
There are ever changing facets in the experiential world from scope, to messaging, to impact. An experienced permitting Partner is in constant communication with the multiple and many governmental regulating authorities, and up to speed on the ever changing legislation, regulations and implementation of guidelines in the Cities they work with on a daily basis. This then ensures that your “permitting partner” has their finger remains on the pulse of all possible outcomes, and, opportunities, for your event, and your client.
As the leading expert in permitting across the country, for over 25 years, our eventpermits team has had more than our fair share of calls from panicked agencies who thought they had their event all buttoned up, only to find the night before they go live that they are missing a critical permits, or another crucial piece of the puzzle, and that as a result, they will not be launching on time. This type of totally avoidable “epic failure” is usually due to poor planning, and it happens far too often, due to youthful inexperience, trying to “cut corners,” and not having an experienced event permitting partner who has a genuine VESTED INTEREST in the (overwhelming) successful outcome of your client’s program.
So what does an event permitting partner do for you? If they are doing it right, then the process is truly the smoothest and most effective way to ensure that your event goes off without an avoidable hitch. Anyone who has done any type of permitting research for their event knows what a minefield it can be. From knowing what type of permit you need to what municipality you need to reach out to – to ensuring which locations will work…. the list goes on & on, with one type of permit, leading to another, and then to another. Who knew?!
If you’ve ever tried doing this on your own, you likely know, you literally could wait a month or more, with no returned call. We find that when our clients call us, they need permitting answers and date availability answers “now,” not days, weeks, months from now. And that is EXACTLY where our deep-rooted, and long-time relationships can work in favor of you and your agency. In many cases, a permitting partner will have a good shot at getting you answers in 24 (business) hours, or less.
So, what do you look for in a permitting partner?
- The ask the right questions: From the first phone call to discuss the project you’re working on (big or small) your permitting partner should be asking you a LOT of detailed questions. Not just about the brand or how large your footprint is, but about your message, your demo, your parking, your branding, etc.
- They spend your money responsibly: Let not forget about budget! If you’re serious, forget about fudging this number – the right Partner isn’t looking to spend your money, they are interested in reality. A Partner will want to use your budgeting dollars wisely, and they can help you avoid unnecessary spending in areas you may not need.
- They help you problem solve: You may think you don’t have the dollars necessary to do something with a bigger impact than you planned for – not true! Well…not always true. Working with a permitting Partner will invoke STRATEGIC brainstorming sessions, leading all parties to do a deeper dive into what is truly impactful and a ‘must-have’ for the client, as opposed to what they think they need.
- They make your life easier: A permitting Partner should be able to provide strategic, turn-key solutions for you. They will look to OWN your problems and challenges, and, as your partner, they will work hard to “overcome all obstacles,” rather than turning around and taking the easy way out by telling you…”this can’t be done.”
- They communicate with you promptly: Your Partner should be (from day 1) responsive, available, resourceful and honest about what can be done, and conversely, they should also be able to immediately share what and where the challenges may lie. They should be “problem solvers,” not “problem makers.”
So, if you are finally ready to put aside the challenge of playing yet another risky game of “whack-a-mole” with your client’s budgets and event success, why not pass along the “mallet” to an event permitting partner who “gets it,” and will be able to take your event to the next level – as a Strategic PARTNER, not as a hired “vendor.”
To contact our experienced team click here.