Establishing a Relationship with a Potential Vendor: The Initial Contact
Although you may be overwhelmed with “to-do” lists and have a brain swarming with inspiration and design ideas, a sophisticated bride will never forget her etiquette when establishing a relationship with a potential vendor. Your wedding vendors are the hard working behind-the-scenes folks who make your dream day possible and your relationship with them is a crucial part in ensuring a well working team!
When you begin searching your vendors, your initial contact with them will set the tone for your working relationship together. Although the majority of this points relate to establishing a relationship with a photographer; the general concepts can be extrapolated upon and help guide you through interactions with all the various wedding professionals you encounter.
Do your homework: The majority of vendors have fairly thorough websites that include photos, descriptions of services and even prices. Photographers typically include full portfolios as well as links to various social media sites and blogs in which they may display even more of their work. Always read through a vendors site thoroughly and make sure to visit their social media sites and blogs, too, as their ability to produce blog articles and interact in social media can give you an indication of not only their level of dedication to their craft, clients and services but also show you what they’ve been up to lately. (Websites rarely have a ‘timestamp’ on them the way Facebook and blogs do; you want to know what you’re looking at current and relevant material – not material that is three+ years old!)
Don’t mass e-mail: Sending out a mass email to the first 20 vendors that show up in your search results is a bad idea for two main reasons: First, you’re more than likely making this contact without doing your homework which means you’ll probably ask questions which are already clearly answered on their website (this gives the vendor a sketchy first impression of you). Second, you’re risking your email sending up in the vendors ‘spam’ folder due to multiple recipients!
Don’t go in with your guard up: Depending on with whom you’re speaking, the wedding industry may have a bad reputation: a reputation for ‘scamming’ brides (aka charging more than they need to simply because it’s for a wedding). Although addressing that issue is an entirely different post altogether, I do want all the brides and grooms out there to know how important it is that they wipe the slate clean of any potential preconceived notions before establishing a relationship with any vendor! If you assume a vendor will ‘scam’ you or overcharge you, your communications with them will reflect a certain amount of hostility and this can start the relationship off on the wrong foot.
Incase you’re having a difficult time understanding this particular point, let me provide you with an excerpt of an email that recently landed in my inbox:
“Hi. My wedding is this summer and I need everything on DVD with unlimited coverage. My friend is a photographer and has told me what average pricing should be and we’re on a tight budget anyways so we don’t want any add-ons like albums or whatever. I just need prices.”
That, my friends, is an example of a bride who made her first contact with her guard up quite high. Not only was she already on the defensive; that message told me that she didn’t do her homework either as my prices are clearly listed on my website (including an additional link to them in the ‘contact me’ section).
Stay honest: There’s no need to lie about what your budget nor is there any reason to fain interest in products you don’t ever intend on purchasing. Your vendor can only serve you as well as you’ll let them so provide them with accurate information and keep your discussions focused on your needs. It’s also important to stay honest with yourself and respect your own budget. Don’t shop around for and begin discussions with vendors who you know, from doing your homework, are out of your price range; you’re wasting not only that vendors time, but yours too!
Know when to schedule a meeting: After your vendor has thoroughly answered all of your questions and you know that you’re more-than-likely going to hire them, the final test should be the personality match-up that comes with an in-person meeting. Many brides overwhelm themselves by scheduling too many meetings! If you want to do mini interviews with a dozen or more photographers, you should go to a wedding show and spend the day walking and talking until you narrow down your list to your favourite few. You should only request a vendors time for a consultation if you believe that they truly may be the best fit for you and have intentions on hiring them should the personalities match. (This, of course, is assuming that your vendor will provide you with an online quote. If a vendor will only provide a quote if you meet them in-person, this portion may not apply.)
Let them know if they aren’t the right fit: After making contact with a vendor, you owe it to them as a professional courtesy, to inform them as to whether or not they are a fit for you. Whether they don’t fit into your budget or you have since found a vendor whose style you love even more, you should always send a quick email to any vendor you’ve had contact with to let them know that you appreciate their help but that your planning has taken you in another direction. Your vendor will truly appreciate this as they will be able to mark your file as ‘no follow-up’ and this will not only save them time in the future but save your inbox from weekly follow-up emails.
Some brides and grooms are unsure of how to phrase these types of emails and thus, don’t send them. Here are some examples of emails to send to vendors who are out of the running!:
“Thank you kindly for the information you provided me in your previous email(s); however, the services far surpass my budget. Thank you.”
“Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me/us; however, our budget and needs have lead us in the direction of a different vendor. Thank you again for your time.”
“Many thanks for taking the time to provide us with not only a quote but also a consultation. Although we appreciate your dedication and skill, we have decided to choose a different vendor for our wedding day services.”
Wedding vendors are people, too, just like you and your fiancé. Treat your wedding vendors the same way in which you would like to be treated and this will help establish a wonderful working relationship for the future!