Hey there, CEOs. Welcome to the Wedding Pro CEO podcast. I’m your host, Brandee Gaar, and my mission is to help you, the wedding industry entrepreneur, to build a profitable wedding business that you’ve always dreamed of.
On today’s show, I’m interviewing Casey Cannon. She’s a planner in Nashville, Tennessee. Casey actually got the opportunity to take over the company that she had been interning for and then working part-time for, and she became the new owner of this company. There’s pros and cons to getting into the industry this way for sure, and I thought it was such an interesting take on a different look at how to take over, possibly a company that you’re currently working for or for any of our listeners that are hoping to exit their company and are looking for someone on their team to be that next owner of the business.
This is gonna be a great episode for you to listen to Casey talk about that journey into becoming the owner of EBJ & Company. The way that she’s made it her own, and how she’s really begun to scale that business. We also talk about what she’s looking forward to in 2024, and you guys, I know that you are gonna be so inspired by this episode, and I cannot wait for you to hear from Casey Cannon of EBJ & Company.
“Hiring the right people isn’t just about qualifications; it’s about finding a personality fit. With Presley and Anna Claire, I found team members who shared my vision, and it made growing the team feel natural and exciting.”Casey Cannon
Casey started assisting with a wedding planner who was a close family friend of hers. All throughout high school, she just needed someone to come help assist her on wedding days and Casey was always available and interested and she always liked how Casey was able to just jump in and help with whatever was needed. Casey went off to college for photography at Savannah College of Art and Design and she thought she was gonna be a photographer and never wanted to shoot weddings. But throughout college, when she went back home, she would just continue assisting her and assisted with another wedding planner as well.
After college, she still tried to be a photographer, but was better being a wedding planner. She still worked with the woman that she assisted with and she was getting ready to retire. So she basically said to her “if you move home, you know you can take over the company” and Casey was wasn’t even sure if she wanted that for her career. Casey and her husband didn’t like where we were living at the time. So they moved back home and started working with Janie, full-time for about two years and then she retired and Casey took over as owner and it’s been about four years since then.
Janie was a planner in the industry for 15 years, maybe more before Casey even really stepped in
more of a full-time role. So she connected Casey with so many people in the industry, like people she’s still working and those relationships are totally invaluable. So they laid out a plan, and decided to do it and retire Janie. They decided Casey was gonna take over, but how actually would that happen? They put it on paper and were like, “this is how we see it happening”. Janie was so amazing and helped Casey get set up with a bank account, business license, and like transferring all that in Casey’s name.
She trusted Casey to take on the integrity of what she built. So EBJ & Company is “events by Janie” which is what her company name was. So she wanted to keep the integrity of what she built. When Casey started to take over the business didn’t have social media or a website and she knew how important those things were so she got all of that together quickly.
The main changes she made at the very beginning was not only creating a website and social media, but also started setting up technology like a CRM since everything was done on paper before then. Everything just needed to be more organized, so that was a huge change and definitely a big transition. Casey just figured out what worked for her and moved in that direction confidently!
Another thing was the connections she had to make with her as the face of the business. The connections that were made prior were invaluable but she knew that she had to start making those connections with her as the face of EBJ & Company.
Then, it was time to shorten the name and it kind of happened naturally where people started calling it EBJ & Company and it just stuck and Casey decided thats the direction she wanted to go in with the name.
“Scaling up is a complex process that involves understanding your capacity and balancing growth with maintaining quality. Casey’s journey is a testament to the importance of knowing when and how to grow your business.”
Off the bat, Casey knew that she wanted to have a team, she didn’t want to be a one woman show! She loved the idea of being impactful from her brand. So she liked the idea of that being a team effort and to do large weddings and also to do multiple weddings in a weekend, and do them all flawlessly. She really like the idea of that impact.
Sammy has been on the podcast as well and she was talking about how she knew she wanted a team from the beginning and I find that so fascinating because I think so few people do know that that’s either in the very beginning of their company or just in that hustling stage. I think it’s really an interesting thought to know that to be able to build this beyond you and your capacity and you to be working every single weekend, you’ve got to be able to build a team. And so I loved hearing Casey say that she knew that right from the beginning, whether she knew why or not.
Casey was drowning and she had always heard “don’t hire someone to rescue you” so she felt like she had no options but decided she was going to hire someone to help her. She also knew that over time she knew she was going to hire but needed that pressure to take the leap. She got to the point last April where she was like ready to hire another lead planner.
It’s not everybody’s experience with their first hire to have it work out so well, but a lot of times, I think when you’re, looking for personality fit over qualifications you can teach anybody how to do the job. It’s a matter of do they have ingrained customer service, do they fit, the personality of your team and things like that.
Now that Casey has a team of 2 more employees, they both have their own weddings and they also assist Casey on some of our larger production weddings. So beyond just the ones that they’re leading that she don’t really have anything to do with, they are also assisting Casey with a lot of the weddings as well. One of the lead planners also helps her with a lot of the gallery management with all of the weddings that they get photos back from and will probably move her into a role of being a little more forward in marketing. She’s still figuring out what their strengths are and what they really enjoy doing to help build the business machine and not just the output of planning weddings.
“When I realized we were at full capacity, it was both thrilling and terrifying. It’s about recognizing the need to expand without compromising the quality of our work.”
It’s a big deal to take on the responsibility of paying someone, they’re relying on this income. That was truly the biggest reason why Casey joined the Accelerator. She needed someone to tell her what she didn’t know. She didn’t even know what to ask. So just really looking at the numbers as far as what did the business sell last year and what can it sell this year? How does that impact, total revenue and knowing if she can add another person.
So just really being able to understand how to read those numbers and what’s important to look at was, really valuable. Also, just putting a budget together is super important because you never really realize how much you’re actually spending in your business! Paying people aside, just to run it and pay for your website and all this good stuff. Being forced to look at that and analyze it was so helpful for Casey and she’s now super excited to see those numbers and meet those goals.
Casey knew that her business was growing, she was on the path that she wanted to be on with it growing and bringing in more revenue. She had one team member, but it was almost like this snowball effect that of her not really knowing how to handle everything. She felt like she needed someone to tell her that she was either doing it right or doing it wrong. It was also big deal for Casey that I was a planner. She had looked and talked to other coaches but they didn’t do weddings. It was important for her that whatever business coach she chose got it and they understood the cycle of it.
For the future, the biggest thing right now, especially while booking for 2024, is limiting the number of weddings she’s taking and being specific about those and empowering her team to take everything else! overall, the future looks like finding that balance between, planning some amazing weddings but really seeing the importance of being on the business side.
Join the Wedding Pro CEO Accelerator: A 6-month program for established wedding pros who are ready to ditch the overwhelm, create consistent profit, build their dream team and confidently grow their revenue to $100k/year and beyond.
I help creative business owners sustainably scale their business so they can create a thriving career and work-life balance.
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I have experience speaking at both live and virtual events, educating creative and wedding entrepreneurs how to step into their role as CEO. If you're looking for speakers for your next conference, workshop, event, or the next guest for your podcast, I'd love to see how we can collaborate!
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