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Owning your own wedding venue - With Donna Newman
Episode 6515th June 2023 • Wedding Pros who are ready to grow - with Becca Pountney • Becca Pountney
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Today I'm chatting with the co- owner of The Granary at Fawsley - Donna Newman. We talk about how she ended up owning a wedding venue, the highs and the lows along the way and how she builds relationships with wedding pros that she recommends. We also talk about her experience of the Wedding Business Retreat that she attended last year and why she thinks you should book to join us in 2023.

Want to join this years Wedding Business Retreat? Book your room now:

https://go.beccapountney.com/retreat23

Find out more about the Granary at Fawsley:

Website

Instagram

Want to meet other likeminded wedding pro's so that you can share ideas, network and help each other out? Then why not go ahead and join my free Wedding Pro community over on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/weddingprosreadytogrow/


Find out more about how I can help you grow your wedding business over on my website or Instagram page:

www.beccapountney.com

www.instagram.com/beccapountney

Time stamps:

Sharing experiences with other wedding businesses [00:00:00] Donna and Becca discuss the benefits of networking with other wedding businesses and learning from each other's experiences.

Donna's journey from civil service to wedding venue director [00:02:15] Donna shares how she went from working in the civil service to becoming the director of a wedding venue, and how her husband's background in hospitality played a role.

Growing the wedding business at The Granary at Fawsley [00:05:09] Donna talks about how they started doing weddings at The Granary at Fawsley, from starting with a bare agricultural barn to investing in it and getting all the proper licenses to become a wedding venue. They also discuss their approach to keeping the number of weddings they hold each year small and manageable.

Struggles of running a wedding venue [00:08:53] Donna talks about the challenges of running a wedding venue, including finding the right staff and dealing with the pandemic.

Establishing a successful wedding venue [00:10:01] Donna discusses how they have established themselves as a successful wedding venue and the recognition they have received.

Working with a partner [00:13:01] Donna talks about how she and her partner have made it work by separating their roles and keeping boundaries, and how their children are involved in the business.

Supplier Relationship [00:15:59] Donna and Becca discuss how they navigate the supplier relationship in the wedding industry, including how they find people to work with and how they build reciprocal relationships.

Benefits of Attending a Wedding Business Retreat [00:19:02] Donna talks about her experience attending a wedding business retreat and the benefits of being in a room with other wedding businesses, sharing experiences, and learning together.

Takeaways from the Wedding Business Retreat [00:21:13] Donna shares her biggest takeaways from attending the wedding business retreat, including the importance of consistency, time-blocking, and narrowing down priorities.

Taking a break [00:24:02] Becca and Donna discuss the importance of taking a break and having fun, especially for self-employed individuals.

Quality over quantity [00:25:21] Donna talks about their approach to keeping the number of weddings they hold each year small and manageable, while focusing on maximizing the quality of each booking.

Working on the business, not in it [00:27:00] Donna shares her realization about the importance of prioritizing working on the business side of things from day one, and not just focusing on the day-to-day operations.

Mentioned in this episode:

Wedding Business Retreat 2023

Want to join us for the 2023 Wedding Business Retreat? I would love to see you there - just click the link below to find out more and reserve your room. www.weddingbusinessretreat.com

Transcripts

Donna:

Just being, being able to be in a room with other wedding businesses

Donna:

and to kind of be able to share experiences and kind of learn together.

Donna:

So much of the good stuff comes from getting together with other

Donna:

people and kind of, you know, hashing stuff out in a room.

Donna:

Also, to realize how many other businesses, even if they're not a venue

Donna:

who, you know, whatever their thing is, often we're having the same issues and

Donna:

we're doing the same things wrong, or not doing things that we should be doing.

Donna:

And yeah, lots of light bulb moments.

Becca:

I am Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert,

Becca:

speaker and blogger, and you are listening to The Wedding Pros

Becca:

who are Ready to Grow podcast.

Becca:

I'm here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life

Becca:

examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.

Becca:

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion

Becca:

and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you

Becca:

love, then you're in the right place.

Becca:

Let's get going with today's episode.

Becca:

Today I'm chatting with Donna Newman, director of the Granary at

Becca:

Fawsley, a gorgeous wedding venue set in 2,600 acres of beautiful

Becca:

countryside in Northamptonshire.

Becca:

Last October, I spent three days away with Donna as she joined us as a guest

Becca:

at our wedding business retreat, and I'm thrilled to have her on the podcast today.

Becca:

Donna, welcome to the podcast.

Donna:

Hi, Becca.

Donna:

Thanks for having me.

Becca:

It's an absolute pleasure.

Becca:

I know you are an avid podcast listener to this podcast, so it's

Becca:

good to have you on as a guest.

Donna:

I am.

Donna:

I am indeed.

Donna:

I've listened.

Donna:

I've listened to all of them.

Donna:

I think.

Becca:

Fabulous.

Becca:

Well, it'll be interesting.

Becca:

Will you listen back to your own episode?

Donna:

Oh, I don't know.

Donna:

I don't know.

Donna:

Maybe the girls in the office will want to listen to it, so possibly

Becca:

you can.

Becca:

You can excuse yourself for a cup of tea while they listen.

Becca:

Some people like to listen back.

Becca:

Some people absolutely don't like to listen back, so I'll leave that one.

Becca:

Up to you.

Becca:

Okay, so let's go right back to the beginning of your journey because I

Becca:

was having a look over your website and I was reading your bio on your

Becca:

website and it told me that you used to work in the civil service.

Becca:

In fact, it said you spent 15 years in the civil service until 2012,

Becca:

how on earth did you go from working in the civil service to being

Becca:

the director of a wedding venue?

Donna:

I asked myself that a lot.

Donna:

It was never the plan.

Donna:

So I was, my job was based in London, but I live in Northampton,

Donna:

so it was quite a commute for me.

Donna:

And when I was pregnant with my second child, the department were

Donna:

slimming down and I put my hand up.

Donna:

To take what they called early departure, which is kind of

Donna:

before they start making people redundant, they ask who wants to go?

Donna:

And so that was fine.

Donna:

They let me go.

Donna:

And then when I was 39 weeks pregnant, just before I was about to have our

Donna:

second child, my husband said, there's an amazing opportunity this place has come

Donna:

up and I'd really love to like to run it.

Donna:

So he brought me to see it and he was like, what do you think?

Donna:

And I was like, I dunno, I'm having a baby.

Donna:

I can't think about this now.

Donna:

And I just said, Whatever, like, if you wanna do it, then go for it.

Donna:

I'll support you.

Donna:

And so he, he had to do like a business presentation and stuff for the lease

Donna:

and, , we didn't hear anything for ages.

Donna:

And then when our daughter was six months old and we'd got a two year old as well

Donna:

at the time, and we got a phone call to say, can you take over in a week?

Donna:

So that was that.

Becca:

Wow.

Becca:

What timing.

Becca:

The timing of that is just amazing.

Becca:

I cannot even imagine being 39 weeks pregnant and being

Becca:

presented with that opportunity.

Becca:

What was going through your head?

Becca:

How were you feeling?

Becca:

Were you terrified?

Becca:

Were you excited?

Becca:

Are you just putting it to one side?

Donna:

Absolutely terrified.

Donna:

I had no idea I was, Institutionalized by the civil service where there's

Donna:

like procedures for everything and it's all very, you know, you just

Donna:

follow the rules and you're fine.

Donna:

And then this was, I hadn't, I didn't know anything about hospitality.

Donna:

I didn't know anything about, , I mean, at the time it wasn't, we weren't doing

Donna:

weddings, it was, , accommodation.

Donna:

And we opened a tea room initially, which was very popular.

Donna:

So we just threw ourselves into it.

Donna:

We practically moved here.

Donna:

We lived 20 miles away, so we kind of moved into one of the rooms.

Donna:

We did everything cleaning, cooking everything for quite a long time.

Donna:

And for quite a long time I thought, what have we done?

Becca:

Wow.

Becca:

What an experience.

Becca:

And just for context as well, obviously you were working in the civil service.

Becca:

Did your husband, it was his idea.

Becca:

Did he have a background in hospitality?

Becca:

Where did his idea come from?

Donna:

Yeah, more so.

Donna:

So his family business was, , marquee hire, catering,

Donna:

equipment, all that kind of stuff.

Donna:

So he'd had some experience and also he'd been, he'd done some events with the local

Donna:

council, so he'd, he'd got that side.

Donna:

But he, the way that he found this business was cuz he had a

Donna:

commercial laundry and so he used to do like all of the bedding and

Donna:

stuff for like small hotels and restaurants, that kind of thing.

Donna:

And, and the granary was one of his contracts.

Donna:

And he used to talk about it all the time.

Donna:

Oh, this, it's amazing, this little place in the country and it's so pretty.

Donna:

And I'd be like, yeah, yeah.

Becca:

And now here you are there working.

Becca:

Yeah.

Becca:

And you have been since 2012.

Becca:

So you said that you started off more as accommodation, the tea room.

Becca:

At what point did weddings enter the picture and how did that come about?

Donna:

so we always knew that we wanted to do weddings and we've got an

Donna:

amazing barn, which when we first took over was literally like agricultural.

Donna:

It had a tractor in it, sheep feed.

Donna:

It was, it was not attractive.

Donna:

Nobody would want to get, have their wedding in there.

Donna:

But we negotiated it as part of our lease and then we kind of, around 2014

Donna:

we started, we kind of like made it a bit pretty, we put some marquee linings

Donna:

in it and we used to do, we started to do a couple of weddings under it and

Donna:

temporary events notices we didn't have.

Donna:

All the licenses and stuff at the time, and we used still have to get

Donna:

portaloos in and all that kind of stuff.

Donna:

If we did an event, the first wedding that we actually sold was before it

Donna:

even had linings in the couple came to look round and we were like, so

Donna:

just imagine it's gonna be really beautiful in here and there's not, that

Donna:

tractor won't be there and all this.

Donna:

And they booked us and we were like, oh my God, we've got a.

Donna:

Deliver this now.

Donna:

So we did, and then in 2015 we decided that, you know, we felt that that

Donna:

area of the business had traction.

Donna:

So we put quite a lot of investment in, got the change of use.

Donna:

So it is now a wedding venue, not an agricultural barn, you know,

Donna:

got all the proper licenses.

Donna:

And like put toilets in and the kitchen and all that kind of stuff.

Donna:

So, yeah.

Donna:

And, and that was that.

Donna:

And then we, we had, we ended up actually closing the tea room in 2018 because we

Donna:

were doing, by that point we were doing a lot more weddings and we were having

Donna:

to, cuz we're exclusive views, we were having to close the tea room, which was

Donna:

a shame because it was popular and lots of people, we had lots of regulars.

Donna:

But obviously weddings are much bigger business than you have

Donna:

to sell a lot of cream teas to.

Donna:

Make what you would make at a wedding.

Donna:

So we had to make that decision.

Becca:

Absolutely.

Becca:

I can see that for sure.

Becca:

So now then, how many weddings are you looking at on average each

Becca:

year when it comes to your venue?

Donna:

So between 40 and 50 nearer to 50 a year, which for us is.

Donna:

Is how many we want to do.

Donna:

We're quite a small team.

Donna:

We have like two wedding coordinators, a bar manager and like kind

Donna:

of a pool of sort of waiting staff and front of house staff.

Donna:

And we don't really want to be massive and have a huge team and we

Donna:

don't want to do weddings every day.

Donna:

We want to do want there to be a gap between each one so each couple

Donna:

can come along before and set up and we don't feel like we're kind of a

Donna:

wedding factory, if that makes sense.

Donna:

We we're purposely trying to keep it.

Donna:

Small and manageable.

Becca:

What a journey from having just that first wedding that just came and

Becca:

looked at a barn through to now holding 40, 50 weddings every single year.

Becca:

When you look back at that journey, like how did it take off?

Becca:

Was it word of mouth?

Becca:

Was it a particular piece of marketing that you were doing?

Becca:

How do you think you attracted that business in.

Donna:

Bit of everything really word of mouth.

Donna:

I think the more, obviously the more weddings you have, every wedding has

Donna:

got, you know, a hundred guests or so.

Donna:

So that kind of more exposure.

Donna:

One of the problems that we've had is we are quite in the middle of nowhere,

Donna:

like really we're off of, off, not on a main road, and everyone that comes here

Donna:

says, I didn't even know you were here.

Donna:

So it's been quite hard.

Donna:

So I suppose social media things like Facebook ads have

Donna:

been amazing and just getting.

Donna:

Other people to see us that wouldn't necessarily know about us, and also

Donna:

for weddings just being listed.

Donna:

In the right places.

Donna:

So we are listed with a couple of the big listing sites like Hitched and

Donna:

Bride book, which can be expensive, but actually a, a lot of, an awful

Donna:

lot of our leads come through there.

Donna:

So it's a good investment.

Becca:

Yeah, and it's not, it's not expensive when you get the return.

Becca:

On the investment, that's what you have to look at.

Becca:

And if you're getting the leads and then they're turning into

Becca:

the bookings, absolutely worth every penny that you're spending.

Becca:

So as you look back then, over these last kind of 10, 11 years, what have

Becca:

been some of the struggles along the way when it's come to your business?

Donna:

Oh, I think as a venue, it's.

Donna:

Kind of a bit lonely if you have never worked in a venue before because you

Donna:

don't, but you can't really go to other venues and say, how do we do this?

Donna:

What are we doing?

Donna:

You know, share, because you know they're your competitors,

Donna:

they're not gonna tell you.

Donna:

So it's quite, you just have to figure stuff out really for

Donna:

yourself a lot of the time.

Donna:

So definitely that.

Donna:

Also things like finding the right staff and keeping them in hospitality, that's.

Donna:

An issue for everybody, and that's kind of been a constant thing over the years.

Donna:

We're in a very stable place at the minute.

Donna:

I don't wanna jinx it.

Donna:

We've got a really good team, so we're lucky.

Donna:

Obviously the pandemic was.

Donna:

Horrendous.

Donna:

We didn't, we did one wedding in 2020 on the 29th of February.

Donna:

So that was a terrible year.

Becca:

Wow.

Becca:

you survived and you've come out the other side.

Becca:

So that is, all good.

Donna:

Yes, we did.

Donna:

We did.

Becca:

So you survived the pandemic.

Becca:

Things are looking good now.

Becca:

So now then when you look back, what are the positive things?

Becca:

What are the things that you are really proud of when you

Becca:

look back over these last few

Donna:

years?

Donna:

I think that we've been able to establish ourselves as like

Donna:

a reputable wedding venue.

Donna:

There's an awful lot of imposter syndrome when you start a business, isn't there?

Donna:

And you know, kind of you.

Donna:

Can feel like you don't really belong in your field or you don't have as much

Donna:

experience as others, and you're kind of not, you're not as good as them.

Donna:

You know?

Donna:

And obviously the more weddings you get under your belt, the more you kind

Donna:

of feel like, okay, we're doing this.

Donna:

It's, it's working.

Donna:

People are happy.

Donna:

So I think, yeah, just to kind of, you know, last year in, in 2022 we won,

Donna:

bride Brook Platinum Award and Hitched County Champion, I think, or vice versa.

Donna:

I can't remember which way around.

Donna:

So to get things like that and, you know, And there's a lot

Donna:

of wedding venues in our area.

Donna:

Really amazing, all of them.

Donna:

So for us to kind of be kind of counted with them, that really means a lot.

Becca:

Yeah.

Becca:

That recognition that someone else can see, all that hard work that

Becca:

you've put in is definitely worth it.

Becca:

You talk there about imposter syndrome, obviously that's improved

Becca:

for you over the time, do you think?

Becca:

Do you still have imposter syndrome?

Becca:

Because if you're anything like me, it never really goes away.

Donna:

Absolutely.

Donna:

Oh my goodness.

Donna:

Yes.

Donna:

Yeah, about everything.

Becca:

Well, I don't think you need to.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

Even about today, I was like

Becca:

even about being a guest on this podcast.

Becca:

You are very welcome.

Becca:

It's great to have you on here, and you should be incredibly proud of your

Becca:

success when you look back and often as business owners, we don't look back.

Becca:

We're always looking forward, looking to the next goal, looking to the

Becca:

next number, all of those things.

Becca:

But actually when you look back and think, actually in 2012, I was working in a

Becca:

civil service job and now I am director of this incredible wedding venue with

Becca:

40 or 50 couples coming in and getting married every year with an amazing team.

Becca:

You have to take a moment to realize, actually we have achieved that.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

We, we actually, when we hit our 10 year anniversary, last year, we had

Donna:

a big party, like a black tie event.

Donna:

We invited all of our friends and family, everyone that's.

Donna:

Supported us over the years and, you know, lots of our, suppliers that we work with

Donna:

and just had like a really good knees up.

Donna:

And yeah, I I, I do definitely do feel proud.

Donna:

And now when you hear sometimes like I'll be on a Facebook forum and people are

Donna:

saying like, was a really good venue.

Donna:

And when other people say, oh, the granary at Fawsley I'm like, yay, that's us.

Becca:

Yes, definitely.

Becca:

And I'm glad you took time to celebrate with a party and hopefully you'll

Becca:

do it again for the 20th anniversary.

Becca:

In a few more years time seems like a long way off, but I'm sure it will come round

Becca:

quicker than that as these things do.

Becca:

Now, I'd love to ask you a question that always intrigues me when I talk

Becca:

to people in your situation, which is around working with your partner.

Becca:

Obviously you said right at the start that you went into this together,

Becca:

that you were happy to support him.

Becca:

You had a young family.

Becca:

How has it.

Becca:

Been working together with your partner?

Becca:

Has it been a struggle?

Becca:

Has it been the dream?

Becca:

Like what would you say to people who are considering doing that?

Donna:

It's, I think, very early on we decided who on our roles, separate

Donna:

roles, so we make big decisions together, but then like day-to-day, we don't

Donna:

actually work together very much at all.

Donna:

We always, we decided that, From early on, cause we've got young

Donna:

children, we've now got three, that the family would be my priority

Donna:

and that the business would be his.

Donna:

So that we've got some kind of continuity.

Donna:

And so my work is largely from, has always largely been from home.

Donna:

He's always been more in the office, so he runs the operational side of things.

Donna:

So on a wedding day, he'll often be here overseeing things.

Donna:

Often he's not needed now.

Donna:

But I tend to do all of the back office stuff that I can do from anywhere.

Donna:

So I do all the marketing and the finances, like HR kind of things.

Donna:

And so, Like on a normal working day, our paths don't

Donna:

cross that much, which is good.

Donna:

It works.

Donna:

And he's also got some other businesses, so sometimes he's not here.

Donna:

So yeah, I think that's kind of how we've made it work.

Donna:

Although sometimes it is quite difficult in the evening, like he wants to have

Donna:

a big business chat and I'm like, oh.

Donna:

Really?

Donna:

Yes.

Donna:

Keeping those boundaries is hard as a self-employed person at the best of

Donna:

times, especially when your business partner is also your life partner.

Becca:

I can imagine that as well.

Becca:

And I bet it's interesting for the kids having grown up around this, are

Becca:

they getting more aware of what you do?

Becca:

Are they getting involved in any of the little bits that go on?

Donna:

Yeah, definitely.

Donna:

I mean, they've always, they've grown up kind of coming over to work with us, you

Donna:

know, popping in at weekends, seeing how things are going, that kind of thing.

Donna:

So, and our, our oldest turn's 14 tomorrow, and he already knows that

Donna:

as soon as he is old enough, like he's got a job here, he's gonna

Donna:

be like collecting glasses or, you know, waiting tables or whatever.

Donna:

Soon as he's, soon as he's old enough, I say, yeah, they're,

Donna:

they're quite interested.

Donna:

But I, I, I like to feel that we've managed to kind of not

Donna:

let it take over our lives.

Donna:

You know, we've kind of had that, which is why I'm quite glad that

Donna:

we don't live on site and we live.

Donna:

Away.

Donna:

Away because we can't, we can't work all the time.

Becca:

Yeah.

Becca:

It gives you a little bit of boundaries, but I do think it's really inspiring

Becca:

for children to be brought up around entrepreneurs, and I find often

Becca:

entrepreneurs have entrepreneurial parents because I think they see what's possible

Becca:

and I think it's really exciting for them, especially at a young age, to realize.

Becca:

Actually there is another option.

Becca:

I don't just have to follow the normal path that everyone else follows.

Becca:

And actually I can think outside of the box and I can do it like

Becca:

my parents did, and maybe not in the same industry, but actually

Becca:

consider having their own business.

Becca:

So I'm a big advocate about getting children involved

Becca:

to business at a young age.

Becca:

I'm talking to my kids about it.

Becca:

All of the time, probably too much.

Becca:

But I do think it inspires them.

Becca:

And now if I, if they wanna buy something, so for example, they wanna

Becca:

buy a new toy or something like that, I'll say, well, you don't have any money.

Becca:

And my youngest, who is six, will say, well, we need to find

Becca:

something to do to earn the money.

Becca:

And I'm like, yes, you do.

Becca:

But yeah,

Donna:

Our's do that.

Donna:

They'll be like, I want this.

Donna:

Thing, what jobs can I do?

Donna:

Have you got any jobs?

Becca:

Yeah, exactly.

Becca:

But at least understanding.

Becca:

Yeah.

Becca:

Money doesn't just fall from trees though.

Becca:

Your parents work really hard to, to do that for you.

Becca:

Now, whenever I have someone on the podcast who is from a wedding venue,

Becca:

I have to ask the questions around the venue supplier relationship because

Becca:

it's definitely a thing in our industry where people see venue and venue

Becca:

owners and event managers as this.

Becca:

Big scary unapproachable thing when they're in the industry.

Becca:

They're photographers Florists, especially when they're starting out.

Becca:

And although we've talked already about your imposter syndrome, I know

Becca:

that there'll be people listening to this or seeing you online and

Becca:

thinking, oh, I wish one day I could be recommended by the granary at Fawsley

Becca:

I wish that they would know who I was.

Becca:

How have you navigated that supplier relationship?

Becca:

How have you found people to work with?

Donna:

So some of our suppliers we've worked with from Day

Donna:

Dot, you know, they were.

Donna:

Had fledgling businesses themselves.

Donna:

Glen had already got a few contacts in the industry through his previous

Donna:

work with the marquee business.

Donna:

And then we've always tried to work with as many suppliers as we can, really,

Donna:

because we find it's, it's good for us.

Donna:

The more, the more kind of people that say positive things about us

Donna:

and work with us and know what we like to work with, you know, the more

Donna:

that they're gonna kind of tell their clients about you and vice versa.

Donna:

And you know, you can build up quite a.

Donna:

Reciprocal relationship.

Donna:

It's difficult in with certain kind of niches just because there's so many,

Donna:

you know, we find it with photographers, there's, there's so many and all of

Donna:

them are hugely talented and the, the thing is you can't recommend everybody.

Donna:

So we kind of say, If you get a job here and you, you know, we get on

Donna:

really well and we, and you know, and, and we all really like each

Donna:

other, then we'll recommend you.

Donna:

But we don't recommend anyone that we haven't worked with.

Donna:

That makes sense.

Donna:

Cuz you can't, you don't know.

Donna:

So you can't,

Becca:

yeah.

Becca:

It is difficult and you are in a difficult position because there are so many

Becca:

incredibly talented people out there, and obviously you can't recommend them all.

Becca:

But I'm glad to hear that you're open to working with lots of different

Becca:

people and if there is someone listening to this and thinking, oh, I wish.

Becca:

Like, I could reach out or speak to you.

Becca:

Like, how do you like hearing from people?

Becca:

Do you like it when people reach out to you?

Becca:

Do you like people to come in to visit?

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

So the thing that kind of we like the most is if, when people, especially on

Donna:

social media, if they just, you know, kind of share some of our stories or,

Donna:

you know, and that maybe if they see we've got an open day and they, they get

Donna:

in touch and say, oh, you know, do you think I could come along if we've got,

Donna:

if we've, we've, we've not already got somebody doing what you do, then yes.

Donna:

Absolutely.

Donna:

So I think it's really just kind of fighting the bullet and just

Donna:

taking action and just kind of saying, hello, this is what I do.

Donna:

You know, how can I help you?

Donna:

And then we can kind of.

Donna:

Kind of build it from there.

Becca:

So it's being proactive and realizing you're not scary.

Becca:

It's okay.

Becca:

They can contact you and you're not gonna bite their head off.

Donna:

Not at all.

Donna:

No, no.

Donna:

Like, like on, on a wedding day, you know, you kind of all work together, don't you?

Donna:

To kind of produce the end results, so you are all on the same team, really.

Becca:

Absolutely.

Becca:

That's music to my ears, Donna, because so often people are afraid,

Becca:

like I said, of venues, they're scared that they're gonna be put in their

Becca:

place or they're gonna lose out on an opportunity if they do it wrong.

Becca:

So if you're listening to this, Be reassured.

Becca:

You know, it is, it's, they're just people.

Becca:

They're people who've started a business to a lot of the time.

Becca:

Anna, if you can think about a way to serve them and to reach out and

Becca:

be friendly and genuinely want to build that relationship, that's

Becca:

definitely the way to go about it.

Becca:

Now, Donna, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the wedding business

Becca:

retreat, as I mentioned, In the intro, you came on our retreat last year.

Becca:

It was an absolute blast.

Becca:

We loved having you there.

Becca:

I'm so glad you came.

Becca:

If you think back, and this is going back a little bit in your head now

Becca:

to when you first booked it, what was it that made you think, yeah, I'm

Becca:

gonna come on the retreat this year?

Donna:

I think just being, being able to be in a room with other wedding

Donna:

businesses and to kind of be able to share experiences and kind of learn together

Donna:

because I, you know, you can kind of.

Donna:

Do courses and you can like have business coaching and all that kind

Donna:

of stuff, but so much of kind of.

Donna:

The good stuff comes from getting together with other people and kind of,

Donna:

you know, hashing stuff out in a room.

Donna:

So, yeah, I love, I loved it and it, you know, also to realize how many

Donna:

other businesses, even if they're not a venue who, you know, whatever,

Donna:

you know, their, their thing is often we've got, we're having the same issues

Donna:

and the same problems, or we are, you know, we are, we're doing the same

Donna:

things wrong or not doing things that we should be doing and yeah, lots of

Donna:

light bulb moments.

Becca:

It's a great opportunity, isn't it, to step outside of your own business

Becca:

and into that space where everyone's there for the same reason and to talk.

Becca:

Now, you said earlier one thing you struggle with or have struggled

Becca:

with over the years is being able to talk to other venue owners

Becca:

and talk about their struggles.

Becca:

There were lots of other venue people at the retreat.

Becca:

Were you able to have some of those conversations there?

Donna:

Oh my goodness, yes.

Donna:

Yes.

Donna:

And it was so good and because they're not like near, you know, they're not near

Donna:

you, they're from all over the country.

Donna:

So, you know, you could just genuinely be really supportive of each other and

Donna:

share like best practice and kind of, you know, how do you know when this comes up?

Donna:

What do you do?

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

So it, it's, it's really great to be able to do that.

Donna:

Yeah,

Becca:

I think people underestimate as well when it comes to any

Becca:

in-person event, whether it's a retreat, a conference, often yes,

Becca:

you get loads from the sessions, but.

Becca:

As you said, so much of what happens at those events is in the

Becca:

tea breaks, in the coffee breaks, in the lunches, over drinks.

Becca:

When you can have those conversations when everyone's relaxed, when you

Becca:

can ask people questions that you've wanted to know for ages and just

Becca:

haven't been able to have the person to ask or the opportunity to ask.

Becca:

It definitely is what makes.

Becca:

Things really magic.

Becca:

When you think back, is there anything specific that you took away from last

Becca:

year's retreat that you've kind of bought into your business or changed

Becca:

or done differently or any light bulb moments that you can remember?

Donna:

Yeah, I think so.

Donna:

I think.

Donna:

What the biggest thing that I got out of it was, you know that in everything that

Donna:

you do in building your business, it's really just about consistency and not

Donna:

kind of getting too hung up on everything being perfect And you know, just like

Donna:

with social media for example, just consistently like putting out content

Donna:

and you know, building your audience and.

Donna:

Yeah, that cause that, that's not a strong point for me time.

Donna:

Like blocking out your time, making sure that you're kind of protecting like your,

Donna:

your time to work on your most important things and actually to like narrow down

Donna:

what those are because you can't have 20 most important things, you know?

Donna:

So, yeah,

Becca:

absolutely.

Becca:

And when you came on the retreat, one thing that people say to me is,

Becca:

I'm a bit nervous about going cause I don't really know if I'm gonna know

Becca:

anyone or if I'm coming on my own.

Becca:

Did you know anyone before you came or was it an experience where you came alone?

Donna:

No, I came alone.

Donna:

I knew Kelly and I've felt like I knew you because I've listened to

Donna:

lots of your podcasts and like watched your Pinterest training and stuff.

Donna:

So, but no, I didn't know anyone else at all.

Donna:

So it was great actually to.

Donna:

So kind of, you know, some of them I kind of recognized from like forums,

Donna:

from like Kelly's forum that you know the names, but I didn't, yeah.

Donna:

But it, but I, I felt like that was the good thing to not know anybody, to kind

Donna:

of just really throw yourself into it.

Becca:

Yeah.

Becca:

And actually when you don't know anyone, it forces you to

Becca:

start talking to people quicker.

Becca:

Cuz often if you go with a business partner or a friend or someone

Becca:

in the industry, you can end up talking to them the whole time.

Becca:

And actually you don't get the full kind of experience of the networking.

Becca:

I hope that, that you didn't find that you felt lonely.

Becca:

I hope that you found that you made lots of connections very quickly.

Donna:

I did.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

And you know, some of the people we've.

Donna:

Still sort of follow each other on Instagram and kind of

Donna:

comment on each other's posts and stuff, which is really nice.

Donna:

And also Becca.

Donna:

I've got three kids, so it was like a holiday for me.

Becca:

Yeah, me too.

Becca:

That's why I like to go, go see a nice hotel.

Becca:

Have someone else cook your food.

Donna:

Exactly.

Donna:

No packed lunches to make is amazing.

Becca:

Yeah, absolutely.

Becca:

I joke because we do go there to do business.

Becca:

Honestly, for anyone who's listening in my family.

Becca:

But it's, it's a break and we don't get that time again.

Becca:

As self-employed people, we often don't get that time to switch off to have fun.

Becca:

And that's one of the things me and Kelly really wanted to put into our

Becca:

retreat is, yes, it's about business.

Becca:

Yes, it's about connection, but we wanted to have those moments of fun

Becca:

and letting your hair down and laughing and doing all of the things that we

Becca:

watch other people doing at weddings.

Becca:

Day in, day out, week in, week out, but often just don't have

Becca:

the opportunity to do ourselves.

Becca:

So yeah, it definitely is a break as well.

Becca:

We've got our next retreat coming up in October.

Becca:

So if anyone's listening to this and they're on the fence about

Becca:

going, what would you say to them?

Donna:

Just book it.

Donna:

Honestly.

Donna:

You won't regret it.

Donna:

You'll get so much out of it that you didn't expect.

Donna:

And just the opportunity to be in the, in a room with lots of other like-minded

Donna:

individuals that are all just trying to do their best in their business.

Donna:

Yeah, it's definitely worth it.

Becca:

Fab Yeah, I can't wait.

Becca:

I'm counting down the months already.

Becca:

We're only in May, but it is gonna come round soon and I know I'm looking

Becca:

forward to those three nights away from my house once more and just absorbing

Becca:

myself in all things, weddings.

Becca:

So Donna, what is next for you?

Becca:

What's next for the venue?

Becca:

Have you got big plans?

Becca:

What are the next couple of years looking like in your world?

Donna:

So we've been, this year been focusing quite a lot on doing some

Donna:

refurbishments and kind of stepping everything up a bit, making it a bit,

Donna:

you know, Kind of, you know, making everything more fresh and kind of new.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

I dunno, really, in terms of growing the business, we're getting to

Donna:

like a nice, a nice kind of point with how many we're doing a year.

Donna:

But one of the things that we have been kind of.

Donna:

Working on is kind of quality over quantity with our bookings,

Donna:

and we've really seen that.

Donna:

So like the, the, the average booking that we take, that we've been taking

Donna:

for say, 2024 is higher than for 2023.

Donna:

So that's kind of been, you know, how can we kind of maximize each of the

Donna:

bookings and how can we, you know, make it the best experience possible.

Donna:

For the couple whilst also, you know, us kind of as a

Donna:

business doing well out of it.

Becca:

And that's a lovely stage to be at as well, to be able to

Becca:

have the freedom to actually have a look at that and to think about it.

Becca:

Because I think when we get started and there'll be people listening in the

Becca:

starting zone where you're just trying to get as much business as you can,

Becca:

bring in all the bookings, you feel like you're just never gonna get there.

Becca:

And then all of a sudden you hit this point where you have, where

Becca:

if you keep taking more and more and more bookings, you would just

Becca:

become overworked and burnt out.

Becca:

And.

Becca:

That's the right time to do exactly what you're doing, which is to

Becca:

take a pause and to think, okay, this is about the right amount.

Becca:

How can we make those bookings that we have got even better?

Becca:

So hopefully you will see that increase year on year over the

Becca:

next couple of years as well.

Becca:

Now, Donna, you are an avid listener to the podcast, so you will know

Becca:

that I always end my infused with the same question, which is what's

Becca:

one thing you wish you'd known sooner in your wedding business journey?

Donna:

Yes.

Donna:

I am prepared for this.

Donna:

So the one thing I wish I'd known sooner was that it is okay not to know everything

Donna:

from the very moment that you start.

Donna:

I spent Far too long beating myself up about the fact that I didn't

Donna:

know how to run a wedding venue, but of course I didn't because I'd

Donna:

never run a wedding venue before.

Donna:

And if we waited until things were perfect and we were

Donna:

ready, we wouldn't do anything.

Donna:

So I think you just have to start before you're ready and just.

Donna:

Leap in and just be kind to yourself about it and just be willing to learn a lot.

Donna:

And also, I've actually got another thing which is slightly

Donna:

different to prioritize working.

Donna:

On the business and not in it because I think I was maybe four years in before

Donna:

I even knew that was a thing, cuz I, we were so deep in kind of the day to day and

Donna:

we weren't tracking how it was growing.

Donna:

We didn't really, the business side of things was not.

Donna:

A priority, but it should be from day one.

Becca:

Hopefully it is now.

Donna:

Oh yeah, it is now.

Donna:

Yeah.

Donna:

I've got, I've got a dashboard.

Donna:

I can tell you all my numbers.

Donna:

Yeah.

Becca:

Excellent.

Becca:

Love to, and you couldn't tell me all your numbers and you don't

Becca:

know where things are coming from.

Becca:

That's a little wake up call for you there from Donna to remember

Becca:

that you can't just work day to day.

Becca:

You do need to look at those bigger picture things as well.

Becca:

Donna, it's been such a pleasure having you on the podcast.

Becca:

Thank you for being here.

Becca:

If people wanna find out more about you, about the venue, about

Becca:

working with you, where's the best place for them to find you?

Donna:

We have our website, which is granary-weddings.com.

Donna:

We are on Instagram as the granary at Fawsley.

Donna:

Also Facebook, the Ganary At Fawsley, we're just venturing into TikTok,

Donna:

so we have a few things on there.

Donna:

It's not my, my skill.

Donna:

Thankfully, our wedding coordinators are like two decades

Donna:

younger than me, so they know.

Becca:

Fabulous.

Becca:

And you've got a 14 year old in your house who will soon be coming

Becca:

up to that point where they'll know more about technology than you.

Donna:

Oh yeah.

Donna:

He's basically tech support.

Becca:

Absolutely.

Becca:

That's what kids are for.

Becca:

Surely.

Becca:

I'm looking forward to a point where my kids get old enough.

Becca:

To be able to do my social media in a really young, cool, trendy way.

Becca:

I'm, I'm sure it will happen over the next 10 years.

Becca:

I will make sure that I put all of those links to all of the things

Becca:

Donna mentioned in the show notes.

Becca:

So do reach out to her.

Becca:

Donna, thank you for being here.

Becca:

It's been a pleasure.

Donna:

Thank you, Becca.

Becca:

I love that conversation with Donna.

Becca:

Isn't she great?

Becca:

What a wonderful business story to think that she walked out of

Becca:

a job into a wedding venue and here she's all these years later

Becca:

with a real success on her hands.

Becca:

If that's not inspiring today, I dunno what is.

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