Selecting vendors for any kind of event can be stressful. The market is flooded with professionals of all kinds and with easy access to social media marketing, just about anyone can call themselves an 'event professional' these days.
Once you have done your due diligence of interviewing and selecting your event vendors, you will need to manage them. Yes...more work. No one said planning an event would be easy!
Good vendors take MOST of your stress off your shoulders. They anticipate your questions, respond to you promptly, and perform exactly the way you expect...if not better! But even the BEST vendor likes guidance and management from their client.
Keep your vendor informed. There is generally a long time between booking a vendor for a major event and the actual event itself. Things can change in that time, and your vendors are the most important people to tell! Has your guest count changed dramatically? Have you re-thought your timeline? These things that have kept you up at night anticipating will un-nerve your vendors if they find out the day of your event.
- Send periodic emails (even GROUP emails to keep everyone in the loop) to check in and report any progress or questions you have.
- Have a face-to-face meeting or at the very least a phone conversation with EACH person you contract . Email is great, but when face-to-face (or ear-to-ear) more in-depth conversations can happen and a personal connection can be made.
Don't assume anything. Yes, you have researched and found the perfect person to make your event unforgettable. Yes, they have years of experience and have seen thousands of events. NO...they do NOT know what you are looking for! Unless you, as the client, specify what is important to you, you can not assume that your professional will know that. The more specific you are, the better. I am not suggesting micro-managing your caterer! There is a difference between telling your caterer that you really dislike parsley as a garnish and telling them to put the fork on the left!
Monitor performance. Martha Stewart writes: "Successful relationships require commitment, effective communication, and a common goal. If the vendor is not committed to helping you achieve your objectives, the relationship will fail." A proposal and contract with your vendor will have specific objectives and tangible results laid out. Use those documents to measure your vendor's performance.
Don't be afraid. If a vendor is not meeting your expectations prior to your event, don't be afraid to terminate that relationship. It can be extremely intimidating to confront someone you are not happy with, but in the long run, you will be happy for making that tough decision. Be sure to read your contract thoroughly and understand any financial consequences before pulling the trigger.
Regroup and transition. The best way to get through a transition is to COMMUNICATE. Keep your other vendors informed of the change that has occurred in your planning and move on. Dwelling on a negative experience will only bring you down. Have full confidence that your new vendor will perform exactly as you wish and will work well with your other professionals!
Trust and ENJOY. You have done your work. The time has flown by, and your event is upon you! Now is the time to trust and enjoy. If you have managed your team of vendors well, your event will be flawless and you won't even know if something minor goes awry. Let your professionals do their job. Tina Fey puts it best: "In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people & then getting out of their way".
Don't forget a Thank you! I believe, a key part of great management is making people feel appreciated. "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected". Payment is not the only form of 'thanks' you should give to your vendors. A hand shake, a note, or a gratuity is really the nicest way to seal the relationship you have with any professional you hire.
Pay it forward. By treating your DJ, your photographer, your caterer etc. with respect and kindness, you are helping to ensure that anyone you refer to that vendor in the future will be treated with the best service they can imagine ! Communicate, Trust and Enjoy...it is that simple!