Covesa Gragg is the owner and visionary behind Covesa Kelly Events, voted #1 Wedding Planning Company three years in a row by Cleveland’s Fox8’s Hotlist! Since 2007, Covesa has continued to bring a fresh approach to event planning with a focus on five-star service and commitment to customer satisfaction. Her brand extends beyond the successful event planning business with her unique twist on the bridal show experience including, Brides in the City Tour, Brunch in the City, the Brunch for Event Planners. She also provides small business management and is an educational speaker.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I felt like there was a lack of event industry focused small businesses offering a great service coupled with great customer service and processes. I was confident I could bring a different angle regarding the way customer service was handled from a small business.
Tell us about your business.
Covesa Kelly Events is an event planning company that puts an emphasis on customer service & satisfaction. We raise the bar by responding to customers in a timely fashion, ensuring that our clients understand their contracts before they commit to them, and executing our agreement in excellence using professionalism and courtesy.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
We are currently preparing for our Semi-Annual Brides in the City Tour, a unique twist on the bridal show, where we host a bus tour for brides who are engaged and looking for venues and vendors for their upcoming nuptials.
- Smart Business Progressive Entrepreneur
- Best Wedding Planner in Cleveland voted by Fox8’s Hotlist from 2012-2014
- Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Business Alumni
- At Large Board Member for International Live Events Association – Cleveland Chapter
- WISE Cleveland Member
Where is your business based?
Valley View, Ohio.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Networking! I came from a completely different industry and I didn’t know anyone in the events industry, so I had to go out and meet some people! Once I met people, I had to get them familiar with me. I was looking to build on these new relationships. I find that the fastest way for someone to know and appreciate you is to bring them money! Money that they didn’t have to do anything for except being good at their craft. That’s what I did – sought out the people I wanted to align my business with and brought them referrals.
In my mind I was working with who I viewed as the best, creating great events and learning from some of the best, while building relationships. Many of those people and businesses I still work with today and hold them very close to my heart!
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Giving great service! Our clients have been GREAT to us and I try very hard to be great to them! We have previous clients that send us business, we have guests from events send business because they know that our client was happy and they had a good time. It’s the best feeling for people to send someone to you because they personally had a great experience with you.
In addition to referrals, we did advertising for 2-3 years to increase awareness. What I learned with the advertising is that sometimes it helps but you really need to have a clear message that you are communicating to prospective clients.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Capital has been a challenge, because I wanted to do more than my revenue streams could support. Telling myself, “no” is always a challenge. I may come up with an idea and want to implement it immediately and that doesn’t usually work, I’ve had to work really hard about putting myself and my ideas on a schedule to ensure that they fit within the annual budget and our workload. This is a work in progress.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I’ve learned if you run out of money enough – you’ll stop being reckless with it! It’s really more about discipline and I am working on it because I know that poor financial money management will stunt the growth of my company.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I try to surround myself with positive people that can bring me through the difficult times. I try to do things that I love more regularly so that I can remember why I work so hard. My love of different things don’t necessarily have to be big things, but maybe a favorite bottle of wine, maybe coffee with a favorite person, a fun new shirt, little things that can pull me through difficulties.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The way that I do things! I am truly trying to offer my clients something different for their event planning experience. I am constantly working on the processes that we use to put events together, what we ask of our clients, how we ask our clients. I am thinking of ways to be better, ways to communicate easier and faster, and how our clients receive everything we are giving them. I love planning and I love the event itself but the process and the experience for the customer is where I try to focus and excel. That’s what makes me different.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Don’t stall for overthinking.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Jay Z said it best, “The genius thing that we did was we didn’t give up.”
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
GOOGLE! I don’t know what the world did before Google!
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
- “The Blueprint for a Swank Life” by Olori Swank
- “The Brand Playbook” by Donovan Boyd
- “How to Win at the Sport of Business” by Mark Cuban
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
- I’m currently tweaking my Growth Plan for multi-city expansion.
- I’m working on finding a Business Mentor.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I have a few projects that are in the works now for release around the beginning of 2018 and I’m excited for the momentum that they will bring to my company. I’m most excited about the growth I have been seeing in the company because of my amazing team, our thoughtful clients and the vendor professionals that we work with! Over the next few months, I will continue to work on our company practices, examining how we work together internally and with our clients so as we expand into new markets the process will be seamless and well received by those who work with us during our expansion.
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