Tutor Post: How to Establish Solid Vendor Relationships
This post was written by event planner and QC tutor Andrea DeLucia. Andrea owns her own wedding and special event planning business in Medway, Massachusetts, called Elegance & Grace Weddings. She has always enjoyed planning and designing events, and thinks all the little details are very important!
Anyone who has ever planned an event knows how important vendors are to its success. Imagine if you didn’t have a venue, catering, music, or cake at a wedding? No table settings or tablecloths, no wedding dress or suit, no centerpieces? You might as well just cut your losses and have the couple get married at your house with mom’s chicken dinner as the main meal.
Knowing which vendors are going to give you the best “bang for your buck” is an important part of being an event planner, and maintaining and fostering these vendor relationships is imperative not only to the success of a singular event, but to your overall success of an event planner.
When establishing relationships with qualified vendors, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Do your research
While you might believe a vendor is outstanding after visiting their website, you can’t be sure until you conduct some preliminary research. What are other people saying about the brand? Are the reviews mostly positive? What are the constraints of the business? Compare things like pricing, value, location, and packages. It’s best to obtain your information from a variety of sources. A quick Google search should pull up ample information about a potential vendor.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to the top vendors you’d like to work with, give each of them a call. How did they treat you? What are the pros and cons of each vendor? Which one gave you the best “vibe”? By logically sorting through multiple vendors, you are doing your part as a responsible event planner to secure the best possible event for your clients. Hopefully, you will begin to build a strong and long-lasting professional relationship with each vendor you work with.
It is important to remember that while you are the event planner, this isn’t a one-man show. You’re not the only one working to pull the event together. Your vendors are working hard, too! As the event planner, it’s your job to relay information from the vendor to the client. Vendors appreciate when planners can get them information in a timely manner and can problem-solve with them regarding any issues the client may have(for example, a caterer discovering a client has a wheat allergy).
Keep in mind that relationships with vendors are just that—relationships. They need to be fostered and they take time to grow and develop. You wouldn’t want to marry someone you just met a few hours ago, and the same principle can be applied to a vendor relationship. You need to get a feel for each other and respect each other’s boundaries as well as listen to them when they may have an issue.
Establish a mutually beneficial relationship
Let’s face it: very few business relationships are founded on the power of love. You want to establish a relationship with someone that will also provide you with some benefits. The great thing about having an ongoing relationship with a vendor is that oftentimes, you can offer them repeat business with many of your clients. In return, you want to work with a vendor who will recommend your services in the future or refer potential clients to you. That way, both of you can improve and expand your business and the relationship is strengthened through good practices.
After the event is over, you may think your work is done. It isn’t! To uphold and maintain a good relationship, ensure that you follow up with vendors regarding their involvement in the event. Be sure to say thank you! Let them know that you appreciated their help and, if it is true, that you’re looking forward to working with them in the future.
The bottom line
Let’s take a moment to review what we’ve gone over in this post:
- Research vendors before diving into business with them
- Remember that relationships take time to build and grow, and that a solid professional relationship will not happen overnight
- The more positive experiences you can collaborate on with a vendor, the more your relationship will grow and flourish
- Make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial and everyone gains something from it
- Be grateful—very seldom do people grow tired of hearing someone say “thank you!”
Following these steps will set you on the right track to forging solid and long-lasting relationships with vendors.