Going the extra mile for our customers.
By Ally Phillips, Pink Spaghetti Wirral, Ellesmere Port & Runcorn
When a client asked if I was prepared to travel 1,500 miles to help her with her business, how could I refuse?
Julie McKenzie runs a wedding planning business called My Secret Italy. She organises bespoke, magical weddings in a little Italian seaside town in southern Italy called Santa Maria di Castellabate, or as Julie has aptly nicknamed it ‘Twinkle Town’.
We were introduced by a mutual friend and as soon as we spoke on the phone, we just clicked. Julie takes care of every little detail of the weddings, from organising transfers from the airport to booking hotels rooms for all the guests, to making sure the flower arrangements and food are perfect for her brides and grooms.
Looking after over 500 guests and overseeing arrangements for more than a dozen weddings a year was starting to become quite stressful. Julie recognised that she needed to improve her processes, have more structured procedures and more organised administration, especially as she was keen to delegate more to her daughter Emillie, so she could focus on other areas.
Julie welcomed me into her business as part of her team right from the start and she very quickly felt more organised and under control. We worked really well together, so when I was invited to spend a few days with Julie in Italy I knew it would help me understand her business so much more. It also meant I would get to experience the magic of Twinkle Town for myself. It was very important to Julie that I should have a clear picture in my mind of exactly what My Secret Italy offers for its clients.
Conducting our business meetings in such a beautiful location was a delight. Santa Maria is authentic Italy, a place where many Italians come for a holiday, but is still a well-kept secret from the rest of the world, meaning it has retained its unspoilt charm. I met the caterers, florists and hotel owners, visited some of the places where guests stay and had the pleasure of staying at one of them – the Garden Riviera Hotel. No-one spoke English, so Julie interpreted for me, but often somehow, through all the hand movements and gestures, I got the gist! We ate in restaurants the wedding parties use for their celebrations. I almost felt like a bride myself!
Over long meetings by the sea, we discussed Julie’s goals, implementation plans, strategies to improve the admin side (including help with the accounts) and creating a tracking spreadsheet and creating real efficiencies that meant that Julie was able to spend less time on admin and more on growing her business.
I feel proud of how I’ve been able to help Julie, and as a result also helping her personally to feel calmer and more in control. She has always been so grateful for this, and she continually reminds me of the contribution I have made to her business – both today and with her future plans. As well as doing admin and organisation tasks for her, Julie also often calls me for advice, opinions and to help with her planning and goals – which is so much more than just admin support. It gives me so much pleasure knowing it all helps.
Julie said “I think Ally is incredible and I love her spreadsheets! I spent so many winters in the lead up to the weddings each year in a constant state of stress and frenzy, so the idea of someone like Ally being on hand to help out when required sounded like just what we needed. Ally also helped me with my accounts.
I really believe that we are in the early days of our relationship, and that as My Secret Italy grows, Ally will be a loyal and trusted member of our team. I have just launched a new website, and I hope it leads to more business for the future and in turn more hours for Ally.
Ally shows interest in my business and she motivates me constantly. In addition to actually coming over to visit Santa Maria where we do the weddings, she really does go above and beyond! We believe in going the extra mile for our clients, and Ally certainly did that for us.”