Be Ready to Encounter These 4 Event Vendors
Whether your event planning dreams started at birth, or you’ve recently decided to pursue this career path, we can guarantee that you have an exciting road ahead. No two days will be the same which keeps it exciting, but don’t be fooled – event planners have a tough job!
Even the most seasoned planner will tell you that they’re often surprised with new challenges, especially when it comes to working with vendors. Since every vendor is slightly different from the next, it can feel like you’re diving into the deep end each time you find a new photographer, florist, or caterer. And you certainly don’t want to refer someone who may be a terrible fit for your client!
We know how tricky it can be to work with some vendors, so here’s a cheat sheet with 4 event vendors you’ll likely encounter during your career, and how you can deal with them. Keep it handy, and you’ll know what to expect!
1. The stubborn vendor
In a perfect world, vendors like caterers and makeup artists would be happy to adapt their usual packages for each client. After all, their entire goal is to take a client’s vision and go above and beyond for their big day.
Sadly, this is not the case every time.
Some vendors will listen to what a client wants, such as a photo booth with adorable props, late night snack bar, or a particular makeup look, but won’t go the extra mile to ensure they can accommodate the request. Their inflexibility could be due to a number of factors, like if they’re convinced their way is best, or they simply don’t want to stray from the designs they use for every other event. The client, therefore, feels both disappointed and deceived, as they placed their trust in the vendor and expected their dreams to become reality.
So how do you deal with stubborn vendors as an event planner? Ahead of meeting any vendors, do some online sleuthing! Check out reviews of caterers, restaurant or venue owners, makeup artists, florists, and photographers to see how others have fared while working with them. We guarantee that inflexibility will be noted in any review you see, as it is a terrible quality for a vendor to have. Chat with your fellow event planners to find out which vendors they recommend, and don’t neglect to mention that the vendor you’re looking for needs both an open mind and the drive to go above and beyond for your client.
Nobody wants to work with a vendor with a narrow frame of mind and inability to make their clients happy!
2. The vendor with limited experience
Let us preface this by saying that we know how difficult it can be to start your career as an event planner – finding clients, building a portfolio, and gaining experience doesn’t happen overnight. We get it! And this is also the case for vendors.
The independently owned bakery that your client has their heart set on could be less than a year old, and the florist your bride-to-be is interested in could be struggling to acquire clients. We understand that it’s not easy to start a business or find experience right off the bat, and it’s frustrating that event planners and clients will flock to more seasoned vendors instead of testing out new ones.
However, we strongly recommend seeking out vendors with several years of experience and a strong portfolio featuring a variety of different events. Now, that’s not to say that a photographer with one year of experience can’t do a beautiful job on your client’s wedding day, but you’re taking a slight risk by choosing this professional over another photographer with a few more years under their belt. The same goes for a caterer who has only worked on a handful of events – there is slightly more risk with less experience in any profession.
We don’t mean to be harsh, but we really recommend experienced vendors. For one, they’ll not only know how to deal with emergencies, they’ll more or less expect them. The great thing about vendors who have been around for a while is that they’ve seen a lot of different situations – good, bad, and just plain ugly. They’ve met all kinds of people and had all kinds of things go wrong. Because of this, you can bet that they’ll take charge in difficult situations, know how to keep your clients happy, and make sure that they do a phenomenal job no matter what.
In the meantime, get to know vendors who are just starting out, and connect with them on social media and at networking events – you know they need to build up their experience and clientele, so do what you can to help them meet other vendors and event planners. They’ll appreciate it, and you can keep them in mind when you’re planning a low-profile event.
Another reason to choose a vendor with years of experience? They’ll be legitimate, with a proper business license, insurance, and likely some very strong referrals behind their name.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that as an event planner, you’re going to be the go-to when your clients need a vendor for their event, so you want to be sure that your list is made up of the very best. Your referral will reflect back on you, so choosing vendors who you know can be trusted to do an amazing job is boosting your own reputation in the long run!
3. The overpriced vendor
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was over $35,000? When you break down an engaged couple’s budget, it’s easy to see how this number adds up – venues, food, photos, and music can be wildly expensive. For the happy couple, it can be very tricky to find vendors that are reasonably priced, especially since many vendors will maintain prices that are sky-high, knowing that couples have a “once in a lifetime” mentality and will spend what’s required in order to have the event of their dreams.
This is where you come in! As the event planner, it’s up to you to help your clients organize a strict budget for their event, be it their wedding or another celebration. Keep in mind that your clients are not event planners themselves, so they won’t know ahead of time about hidden costs, last-minute items, or how much they should be allocating for details such as catering, DJs, photographers, and venue. When you sit down and work out their budget, you’ll then need to do everything you can to source vendors that meet your clients’ prices, and cast aside the vendors who are clearly overcharging for their services.
This is why it’s so important to have a list of vendors you can confidently refer your clients to. You’ll know that even if they do charge a bit more, it’s because they go above and beyond, can work extended hours, or offer other perks that make their prices worth it.
By not allowing your clients to go over their event budget, you’re building a strong relationship with them that will last a lifetime!
4. The dishonest vendor
We’re sad to say that not all vendors have their clients’ best interests at heart. Many young couples contact vendors to inquire about a banquet hall or restaurant for their wedding, for example, and without disclosing the actual price, the vendor will hook the sale to the clients and trick them in the process. What they’re doing is essentially making the clients forget that there is a price tag attached, and they do this by playing up the features and quality of the product they’re selling. As a result, young couples get roped in, eventually spending much more than they had intended.
Another type of dishonest vendor is one that adds unexpected costs to the final invoice the client receives. This is deceitful, but unfortunately does happen to honest clients. One way to nip this in the bud is to have your clients lock down exactly what they want from the vendor, and exactly what they’ll be paying for, and have both parties sign a contract. Drawing up a contract is absolutely essential to ensure no unexpected costs are added.
Remember that you’re the expert when it comes to helping clients find the best vendors. Keep your standards high, and keep these types of vendors in the back of your mind – we’re sure you’ll encounter them eventually!