In a landmark decision, the New York state Senate voted 33 to 29 late last Friday to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law shortly thereafter, making New York the sixth state in the U.S. to recognize gay marriage.
While the social implications of the new law are probably obvious, a number of New York-based small businesses -- such as venue owners, wedding planners and caterers -- are expected to be indirect beneficiaries of the new law as gay couples rush to finally tie the knot. Jeannie Uyanik, founder and executive director of New York City's C&G Weddings LLC, says the law could cause a surge in wedding-related business over the next six to 12 months. For companies that haven't had previous business working with gay couples, the forthcoming push could result in sales jumping by as much as 25 percent, she says.
"We actually got a call first thing Saturday morning to plan a wedding for a wonderful couple that already has children and only wanted a wedding in New York City," says Uyanik, who founded C&G Weddings in 1999. Uyanik and her eight-person team plan between 50 and 70 weddings each year. Average prices they charge range from $12,000 to $22,000 per event.
Here, Uyanik shares her top three tips for any business that anticipates a sudden swell in sales -- regardless of the occasion:
1. Assemble a hard-working team. For startups that don't have the resources to staff up in large numbers ahead of a holiday season or other big event, having a team that can handle the added workflow can be essential.
"That means hiring sophisticated, intelligent, hard-working and reliable employees," Uyanik says.
If you are considering hiring additional employees, Uyanik recommends starting the interviewing process early. "That way, if you need to bulk up on staff, you are immediately ready," she says. "It can be time-consuming to find the right person to add to a productive team -- sometimes as long as five months to find the perfect person. It's best to have a process going."
2. Review pricing. When demand for your products or services lifts, your prices need to go up, too. "The simple economics of supply and demand mean that, at some point, you will hit a point where you cannot provide your service for the same price," Uyanik says. You have to really understand what pricing should be and can be, given the new potential market."
3. Keep your message consistent. If circumstances cause a rise in business among a certain group of customers, Uyanik says it's not always wise to change your business model to service that one group of customers.
"I worry that a lot of companies may decide to specifically cater to this market and forget that there are essential principles that have to be in place to do a good job regardless of whom you might be servicing," she says. "Stay consistent in the services you provide to the customers you attract and focus on the message of what you can provide for a customer and how you do it -- regardless of who they are."