We all understand the importance of responding to leads in a timely fashion. WeddingWire states, "On average, 50% of buyers choose the wedding professional that responds first, and if you respond to a lead within 5 minutes rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to turn a lead into a client." Existing clients also expect us to return their calls, emails and texts within a reasonable time frame, depending on the urgency of the situation. For example: wedding-day calls and texts get an immediate response, whereas a request for a contract modification six months before the wedding might be handled within a day or two. There are many options available to professionals to help decreases response times, from live assistants to automated apps. The resulting communication not only improves customer relations but also leads to higher sales and client retention.
But this post isn’t about clients. It’s about vendors. Specifically, the vendors with whom you work every weekend. The very professionals who will be your team to create a seamless event for your clients. What is your response time when a vendor calls or emails? Do you give them the same respect as leads and clients? Do you make every effort to answer their questions or familiarize yourself with their needs the day of the wedding? I recently had several experiences that highlighted the need for a refresher course on how to treat your fellow vendors, and we've received a number of anonymous complaints on this same issue.
Here are my suggestions for citizenship rules for wedding vendors:
Return calls and emails. This seems obvious, I know, but believe me: some people just don’t do it. I don’t know if they feel vendors aren’t as important as clients, or they haven’t budgeted any time in their workflow that isn’t client-centric but it’s a huge sign of disrespect. It’s also killing any future referrals that may have been created as a result of a positive work relationship. It causes undue stress the day of the wedding and sends a clear message that the vendor is not a priority.
If you set up a meeting with a colleague, show up. I bet you thought I was going to say "show up on time," which is equally important, but that can only happen when you actually show up at all. (I wish I was not speaking from personal experience here.) Assuming you do plan on attending a meeting you scheduled with a fellow vendor, do so on time. We’re all busy, we wait for our clients all the time, so do your colleagues a favor and hold yourself to the same standard of respect we all wish our clients would use. There’s nothing that destroys trust quicker than a no-show. It also throws doubt on your punctuality on the wedding day and your ability to adhere to the timeline.
But of course I’m not talking about you. You always call vendors back, respond to emails within 24 hours and you even meet colleagues to scout locations and go over the details of the day. There are still some behaviors at the wedding itself that could lead to a less than stellar experience for everyone.
Don’t badmouth the team. You may not like a certain vendor, or disagree with their approach, but don’t talk badly about them at the event to other vendors. The client hired us all and we have to work together. The quickest way to destroy the cohesiveness of a team is to undermine the expertise of one of its members. It also causes the other vendors to wonder if they’re being talked about in the same manner.
Be polite. What are these - kindergarten rules? In a way, yes. I’ve been completely ignored, given "the look” (you know, the one your mom gives you when you misbehave) and publicly chastised in front of an entire congregation. All after reaching out to the vendors before the wedding to make sure the day goes smoothly. I still try to be polite, even if it’s not well received, but I definitely won’t go out of my way to make accommodations for a rude vendor outside of the event.
We don’t always get to choose our ideal combination of vendors for every wedding, but we can always choose to be professionals and respect our colleagues. Time spent cultivating good vendor relations is just as important as offering quality customer service. When you become the vendor everyone wants to work with, you create a solid referral stream from loyal colleagues. In addition, your clients will feel they’ve made the right decision when other vendors sing your praises. All it takes is a little extra time to be nice.