Today The Eden Exchange team chatted to Kim Williams who is a Franchisor and Company Director of the Wedding, hire, event planning and styling franchise Circle of Love, who are operating in Australia nation wide.
Eden Exchange: Hello Kim, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can we start with your current role in the business and what sparked the creation of Circle of Love?
Kim Williams: Hi, thank you for having me. I am the franchisor of Circle of Love. It was started in 2009 by a lady on the Gold Coast who must have seen a gap in the market at the time.
I think the number of Church Weddings had started to decline and more people were being married by Celebrants in outdoor locations. I would say there probably weren’t that many companies doing hire and styling at that time.
The Gold Coast was also very popular with the Japanese market and a lot of the weddings would have been destination type elopements or small weddings.
In 2010 the model was franchised to include Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. It has grown now to include Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay and Perth.
Eden Exchange: In simple terms, what does Circle of Love do?
Kim Williams: Circle of Love started as a Hire and Styling company specialising in Wedding Ceremonies. We have added Wedding Receptions, Wedding Planning, Vow Renewals, Proposals, Baby Naming & Reveals and Corporate Events to our services. We hire, decorate, style and plan these events.
Eden Exchange: You’ve referred to a quote by Elsie de Wolfe as inspiration for your business: “I am going to make everything beautiful – that will be my life”. Can you tell us how this informs Circle of Love’s business model?
Kim Williams: This was actually a quote found by a former franchisor and thought to represent our values at the time…It is definitely something we strive for! Making everything beautiful!
Eden Exchange: What sets Circle of Love apart from other wedding related companies on the market?
Kim Williams: Our difference to other wedding related companies would be that we offer a full-service. Most hire companies are just that, they don’t setup all of the decorations, they just deliver and pickup. Most stylists don’t offer items for hire and most wedding planners don’t offer hire and styling just planning.
Eden Exchange: Where do you see Circle of Love in five years time?
Kim Williams: I would love to have Circle of Love in at least another 10 locations around Australia and for it to continue to be a well-recognised part of the Wedding Industry.
Eden Exchange: Why is it a good time to be servicing the wedding industry? How has Circle of Love been impacted by the changing climate in the wedding industry over time?
Kim Williams: The wedding industry will never die in my mind- people will always get married. But it is quite a challenging time for the industry as people who have successfully planned their own weddings can develop a passion for it and decide to freelance as experienced wedding planners. Or just recommend to their friends that they can plan theirs.
While it is admirable to want to help people plan their weddings, those who develop a passion for it can sometimes hurt the industry for others who trained and specialised in weddings. Those without skills and training and only create duplicates of their own weddings leave the customers feeling dissatisfied. Due to this those operators don’t get positive referrals and opt out after a while.
They (freelancers) undercut pricing of major operators like Circle of love who offer quality and experience. Soon enough they find that it is not worth their while. We have a lead-generating website that handles our wedding enquiries for us.
We were excited when Marriage equality was passed in legislation. We believed that Marriage Equality would be a huge boon to the industry, but that hasn’t been the case, as yet. We are hoping to see LGBTQI couples enquiring in the future. Love is love after all.
Lately we have found that Weddings have become more intimate, smaller guest numbers and budgets, but our services are not greatly affected by this. For example the average number of chairs hired for a Ceremony is 20 whether there are 20 or 100 guests. The Reception venues probably suffer more with this as their prices are based per head.
On a positive note, there are more non-religious Ceremonies than ever, so the need to decorate outdoor and other venues has increased. ABS quotes ‘marriage ceremonies overseen by a civil celebrant increased to 78.0 per cent of all marriages in 2017’
We do, however, also decorate Churches and Chapels.
Eden Exchange: There is a lot of creativity and drive needed to be able to produce a wedding or special event for a client. What kind of franchisees would you say suit a Circle of Love franchise?
Kim Williams: No experience is necessary as all training is provided but we choose franchisees based on their passion for the industry. Have an eye for detail, good organisational skills, time management and being a people person helps.
It is not for everybody, it is not a business you would buy and have staff run it for you. My background is in the Corporate world, the main difference I noticed when I got into weddings is that in the Corporate world the client understands you have other clients, brides not so much. Having said that, I have had very few Bridezillas!
Eden Exchange: Do Circle of Love franchisees need to have specific skills before they enquire? Or any experience that is necessary?
Kim Williams: No they dont. All the training required is provided ~ it is a ‘Business in a Box’, we like to call it. We have templates for all the processes and support from all franchisees and the franchisor.
Eden Exchange: What’s the best part of your job? What drives you to do what you do?
Kim Williams: I used to own the Sydney North franchise. Now I have the opportunity to train new franchisees on how to make one of the most special days extra special, that I feel is what makes my job so great. It is a lovely and joyous time for our couples and we love sharing it with them.
Eden Exchange: What is typically involved in the setup of a Circle of Love franchise and what can a typical franchisee expect to receive in returns?
Kim Williams: All of the stock is supplied as part of the franchise fee. This includes items like chairs, wedding arches, aisle runners, toolbox, ladder and miscellaneous decorating items. There is 2 days of admin training at head office in Sydney and then 2 days on location in their region. It’s mostly setting up items and doing a photoshoot so their region can be represented on the website and in their own marketing material. Returns are approximately 75-80% depending on the region.
Eden Exchange: Do you have any advice for anyone considering enquiring about a Circle of Love franchise?
Kim Williams: Although, enquiries may come through all day, most of the work is on the weekends and usually bookings are made 6 – 12 months in advance. If you want to work from home, set your own hours or have some flexibility with another job you may have, this is a great industry and business to be a part of . Love is love, that is all there is to it.
Eden Exchange: Thank you for your time Kim it has been a pleasure.
About Circle of Love
Circle of Love’s mission is of excellence, design, sophistication and elegance. Our goal is to create a unique, event that shows who you are, as a couple, on your special day. We are passionate about providing exceptional service for milestone events in your life. Our goal is to create a unique, chic, simply elegant, customised event especially for you. We listen, suggest and plan to create a beautiful reality just for you. We pride ourselves on delivering weddings and events that are luxurious, modern, creative, unique, picturesque, glamorous and filled with detail all around Australia. We are one of Australia’s leading stylists as well as wedding & event planners.
Every one of us takes great pride in our ability to create real relationships with each of our clients allowing us to create an event that reflects your complete wedding and event vision. Relaxed, passionate, organised and kind, we have the ability to make everyone feel confident throughout the entire planning process as well as on your big day.
If you are interested in becoming a Circles of Love franchise please click here. If you are interested in our services and would like a consultation or a quote then please visit our website by clicking here.