Usually here on the blog, you can find me sharing planning advice, snaps of our events, and other news speaking mostly to clientele. But in addition to my lovely clients, a large part of my blog readership is actually other wedding and event professionals. In person, I love discussing industry trends, the best business practices, marketing, and the like with my colleagues — so why not put pen to paper (so to speak) and start a event business focused series on the blog! I am really excited about the content to come and would love any feedback on topics you are interested in hearing about.
Today’s post is something that I do not feel has been addressed very much online. However, I find myself discussing it pretty frequently with other planners and it is a top question I am asked by fellow vendors: how can vendors work better with a wedding or event planner? If you are a non-planner event professional (think photographer, rental provider, venue manager, caterer, DJ, etc.), the following tips are crucial in getting repeat business with a planner. Being added to a planner’s recommended vendor list takes more than just executing your contract to the client:
Be on time: This is so crucial and sets the tone for your working relationship. Professionalism is being on time (read: exactly on time or five minutes early) for in person meetings and conference calls during planning. Even more important is your arrival time on event day. If you confirm with the planner you will arrive at 2 PM and do not show up until 3:45 PM, you will most likely throw off the rest of the event schedule. Other vendors are relying on your part in the event before performing their part. Alternatively, being too early can also be bad. For example, if you are providing florals and show up extremely early, staff may still be placing linens or even waiting for them to arrive. Planners love that you arrived early and are happy to see you, but please do not try to rush the process because you need to be at your next event.
Understand our job: Every planner is different, just like every <insert your job title here> is different. We have common practices but the way we perform our jobs and curate our client experiences all vary. When you begin working with a planner, ask them about what services the client rendered from them (day of coordination, full service, etc.). Also, ask them how your role in the event fits in with their overall planning time line and process. For example, all LPW clients receive a full service experience meaning we handle every detail from planning to design to coordination. So if you are a DJ, for example, I will handle the contracting, sharing of information, sending time lines, etc. There will be little to no need to communicate with our clients unless a face to face meeting is requested. Knowing this process then calling the client anyway to ask questions and not reading the detailed information sent over to you will quickly create frustration for the planner.
Appreciate the the planner’s perspective: We have the whole picture of the event in our mind as well the complex knowledge of our clients, their family dynamics, budget constraints, and so on. If you disagree with a planner on a point, of course let them know. We encourage you to share your expertise with us! But do so respectively and in a constructive way. We may not be a DJ, to continue the example, but we have a great deal of knowledge on how your role in the event works and may have made a plan for you based on that. It is always better to talk it out before jumping to conclusions and especially before contacting the client.
Be a great communicator: Emails and phone calls should always be answered within 2 business days. Period. Even if you do not have a proper answer to return, at minimum send a note saying that the email was received and you will get back to them by a certain date. And stick to the date! It will build trust in your planner and thus, the client. Extremely delayed email responses that say something to the effect of “Sorry I am just so busy” or “I’m sorry! It is wedding season!” are not valid excuses. Sending this type of a response shows that you do not manage your time well and creates doubt in your planner about your management skills. Most importantly, after understanding what role the planner plays in the process, do not contact the client for any reason without connecting with the planner first. In the eyes of the client, it either makes you look bad because they expected you to contact the planner OR it makes the planner look bad because the client thinks the planner did not communicate with you.
Be kind and honest: So simple and so important. We are all here to work for the same goal which is to provide our clients with the absolute best experience possible. If you look at your vendor partners for an event as a team, everyone, including the client, wins. Another way to ensure honesty is giving credit where credit is due. Make sure to tag and reference vendors associated with an event (not just the planner!) on social media. This continues the teamwork mentality and showcases everyone’s hard work. Lastly, keep in mind the way you represent yourself online. Your language, quality of work, and brand should always shine through. Nothing is more disappointing than realizing that all the photos a vendor shares on Instagram actually do not belong to them and were found on Pinterest. Share your own work and represent yourself in an honest way.
Be informed + proactive: Set aside time to thoroughly read the time lines and information we email you. Nothing is more frustrating to a planner than for a vendor to show up to an event or meeting and be uninformed. If you have an adjustment or recommendation, please share! Planners are all about changes and being flexible, but also do not try to change or question every single detail. Furthermore, be prepared! Print out the information you have been sent. I cannot tell you how many times vendors have shown up to events and expected me to have the information that was sent to them in advance printed out for them. Lastly, look at your process. Forms and questionnaires serve a great purpose when a client does not have a planner. However, do not expect a planner to fill out a tedious worksheet that answers the same questions as our time line and other information you have been sent. This goes back to doing your homework and reading the information sent over.
Cultivating a great planner/vendor relationship is so important. We all work so hard to create a wonderful experience for our clients and joining forces can only make us all better.