Want an events team comprised of the most brilliant players in the area? So does everyone else. Here are a few things you need to know about how to woo them and stand out from the crowd.
Often the difference between a struggling business and one that succeeds is the partnerships the business owner makes along the way. These relationships bring in referrals, help the business accomplish more with less, and sometimes they become an extension of the business itself, making it much better and more impressive than what it was before.
To be a successful event planner you need to create a team of event vendors you can trust; a team you can count on to help you make difficult deadlines and provide the best in service even in areas you don’t directly handle. A tried-and-true team will make you and your business look like you are able to do the impossible.
But how do you create a dream team of vendors? Doesn’t everyone want to work with the best? How do you get them to work with you over others? Here are 15 secret tricks.
How to Create Your Event Vendor Dream Team
- You are only as strong as your weakest link. If you want to entice a dream team, you need to dump anyone who doesn’t belong on an “A” team. It’s harsh but people will think of you as the company you keep and an in-demand vendor won’t want to be part of a mediocre group.
- The riches are in the niches. If you serve a niche, look for vendors who do the same thing. There’s less of a learning curve that way and you’ll both be bringing mutually beneficial connections for networking and referrals. Find someone who works with the same audience you do.
- Build your own reputation. This secret takes time but you need to work on your own brand and impressing clients into referring you before people will want to work with you. Once you make a name for yourself, you’ll have event vendors coming to you.
- Achieve a reputation for paying on time and as contracted. No one will ever work with a deadbeat, even if the reason for nonpayment was dissatisfaction. Make sure you have a strong contract with expectations laid out. If things go wrong consider that sometimes it is best to pay that person, even if you never work together again, than it is to argue over what you owe and develop a reputation for stiffing vendors.
- Delight them. You know you have to delight your attendees but it also doesn’t hurt to delight your vendors. Find little, pleasant ways to make them feel special. Even if they’re not ready to work with you right now, keep them in your mind and stay in touch by surprising them in pleasing ways periodically.
- Cyberstalk them. Not really, please don’t cyberstalk them but do follow them on social media and distribute their content to help them improve their reach. Assisting them to grow their business makes them look good and makes an impression on them about your commitment to the vendor relationship.
- Don’t put the squeeze on them. Everyone wants to make a profit and some event planners boast on their ability to get their subcontracted vendors to work for peanuts. This does nothing but line your pockets. They don’t feel good about the job and the moment someone else offers them more, they’ll be gone. In some cases, like working with a dream vendor, it may be best for the relationship to accept their first offer instead of trying to negotiate for their services. This places them in a much better frame of mind and they’re more apt to agree. It also shows you value them and want to work together.
- Negotiate transparently. Okay, we know we just said “don’t negotiate” but there are times it’s absolutely necessary in order to get the job in under budget. When you have a tight budget you may need them to be at a certain number in order to be able to work together. In those situations, most people tend to push back on the quote by asking, “Can we do better?” They don’t name a number because they’re hoping the other person will come back with something even lower than what they were thinking. This rarely happens. Instead, the vendor comes back with a number a shade off and the event organizer realizes it’s still not low enough. This makes everyone frustrated. Instead, give the vendor the number. Tell them “If you can get down to X, we can sign the contract today.” This kills the back and forth and keeps the relationship intact.
- Do them favors. Talk with them and get to know their frustrations then see if there are any you can solve by calling in a few favors from your network.
- Have confidence. Command a room. Develop a swagger. If you lack confidence, fake it. People don’t want to work with scared, uneasy people. They want someone with the confidence to succeed. Take a leaf from millionaire event planners and talk the talk and walk the walk.
- Be transparent. Be transparent in your motives and what you need from the vendor. Most will appreciate the honesty and upfront communication.
- Ask for referrals. Ask your vendor network for referrals for people they’ve worked well with in the past and then ask for the introduction. People are more likely to work with others when they know someone else who has a relationship with them.
- Make introductions to your client. Yes, you’ll be managing the event and ultimately be responsible for the work, but introducing your team to the client is a much more transparent way to operate and vendors will feel more invested in the outcome.
- Research on the Interwebs. Read reviews (on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List or industry sites) and always be on the lookout for vendors with strong reputations. When you find one and approach them share what it is that made them stand out and why you’re contacting them. Flattery feels good and opens more doors than a mere introduction.
- Pay up front. This one is scary if you’ve never worked together before but if you’ve done your research and you know the person is top in their field, paying up front will set you apart from other event planners. If you can’t swing the whole amount, pay as much as you can.
Your event vendor network shouldn’t be viewed as just subcontractors to you because they are the key to your event success. Your clients will see them as part of your team and you want to treat them as business partners to get the most from your relationships. Share your definition of success and how you measure a job well done. If you share the same business philosophy your collaboration will last much longer. Finally, if your vendor partner isn’t producing, sever the relationship. You don’t want to be known as mediocre so don’t ever settle for it.