Six simple tips for improving event vendor management

Many people are under the assumption that wildly successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates made their billions through their own sheer genius and willpower. But this is far from the truth, which is that they owe their success to many, many other talented individuals who helped them to reach that pinnacle of achievement.

Event and wedding planners are no different. Even celebrity planners like Colin Cowie, Sasha Souza, Mindy Weiss, David Tutera, Preston Bailey and Jung Lee – as talented and hard working as they are – owe their rise to superstardom at least partially to the help of staff members, mentors, peers, family, friends and, yes, their vendors.

In fact, your vendors may be the parties most responsible for your success. Think about it for a moment … how much do a caterer, bakery, venue partner, musician/DJ, transportation company, dressmaker, printer, officiant and event equipment company contribute to the success of each of your events? Probably quite a bit.

So it’s critical not only that you have collegial relationships with your event vendors but that you also manage them properly to ensure they meet your expectations and those of your clients. Here are a few things to keep in mind when keeping track of them…

1. Put your expectations down on paper
Yes, you need to verbalize your requirements of each vendor for each job. But you also need to commit these requirements and expectations to paper so that nothing gets lost in translation and so they have a hard copy to work from. This could be as simple as a checklist (that you could generate directly from your My Wedding Workbook Pro online event and wedding planner software app) or as detailed as a full spec sheet with itemized counts and descriptions.

2. Have a contract (or legally binding work order) for each vendor on each project
Not only do you need to write requirements and instructions out for vendors, but you should also have a detailed, contractual work order that goes into specifics on what they will be delivering and at what price.

This document should include language on what recourse you can take if they don’t deliver as promised, liability terms and any other necessary contractual language to cover yourself. Finally, you and the vendor both need to sign and date the document.

3. Keep your vendors in the loop
Possibly the most critical aspect of managing a vendor is staying in close communication with them. This first requires you to establish a mode of communication in which each party can update the other on progress and changes. This is where event planning and management software like My Wedding Workbook Pro can be helpful because it offers collaboration tools (like messaging and task managers) that facilitate such back-and-forth correspondence.

A reputable vendor should be able to deliver without having to be coddled and prodded along the way, but there’s nothing worse than hiring a vendor, assuming everything is going swimmingly and then find out at crunch time that they haven’t been following through. Maintaining contact throughout the process ensures that they are on task and you know what progress is being made.

4. Nail down delivery times early
God knows that a successful event depends on precise timing, so even a short delay in delivery of an item can mean the difference between an ecstatic client and an enraged one. So set exact dates and times from the beginning and have the vendor re-commit to those times throughout the planning process to ensure they are well aware of when and where they need to deliver.

5. Double check every order for accuracy
There’s nothing worse than having a vendor drop off items only to find out later after they are gone that they only delivered half of what was ordered or what they ordered was somehow damaged or flawed. So make sure you or one of your co-workers check on everything that is delivered (regarding condition, quantities, etc.) and notify the vendor immediately if something is not to spec.

6. Let them make a fair profit
Many an event and wedding planner boasts about putting the squeeze to vendors in order to get the best deal for their clients. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting some extra value for your clients (in fact, it’s usually expected).

But you should also be aware that your vendors need to make a fair profit to stay in business (the operative term here being “fair”) and that, if you haggle them down too much or are incessant in asking them for free stuff, they may never want to work with you again. So have an idea of where their profit margins lie and give them the opportunity to make a fair profit, too.

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Managing your vendors, contractors, staff and clients has never been easier … use My Wedding Workbook Pro’s online collaboration tools for managing and sharing tasks, calendars, checklists, files, documents, messages and more.

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