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Complete Weddings & Events

KANSAS

A former high school band instructor, Wade Nelson now plans weddings for about 550 couples annually.
Source: Complete Weddings and Events
A former high school band instructor, Wade Nelson now plans weddings for about 550 couples annually.
Description: Wedding and event-planning services
Owner: Wade Nelson
Years in business: 26
No. of franchise units owned: 1
Start-up costs: $30,350 to $48,650; $50,000
Franchisor fees: $22,500 to $42,500; royalties 8% of sales; advertising 2% of sales
2015 revenue 2016 projection: $641,000; $740,000
2016 projected annual growth rate: 15.4%

Wade Nelson, a former high school band instructor, was a client of Complete Weddings & Events before he ever became a franchise owner. Prior to buying into the wedding and special-events planning business in 1990, he hired the company to plan his own wedding. "I'm a performer at heart, and this seemed like a fun business," he said. Nelson even worked in the brand's corporate office for nine months before setting out with his own franchise, in Kansas City.

Today his business employs three full-time workers and about 35 part-time DJs, videographers and photographers, and he plans wedding receptions for roughly 550 couples annually. Although Nelson's company also handles anniversary and corporate parties, he said about 95 percent of his business comes from weddings. Beyond the usual wedding magazine advertising and bridal shows, he helps build his business by networking with other vendors — especially wedding-event venues — to gather leads.

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Of course, a great review from a happy couple is his best advertising tool. "Word of mouth in this business is so important," he added. Regular and frequent updates from the corporate offices of Complete Weddings & Events helps to keep Nelson on top of trends in photography, video, music and the best ways to communicate with current and potential clients.

One of the best aspects of the business, he said, is the daily communication from the parent company. "We're dealing mostly with brides in their 20s who don't really know about planning their special day," Nelson said. "We have a proven system that guides them through the process for an event that in most cases isn't taking place until a year out. I like that there's a blueprint for success. The mistakes associated with starting a business, for the most part, have been made and corrected."

"I’m a performer at heart, and this seemed like a fun business." -Wade Nelson

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