As the owner of a business in which relationships are everything, I take referrals extremely seriously, as does my entire team. Several times a year, I give every single person who works for me (which usually is somewhere between 12-15) a list of the specific wedding pros that I want them referring, and I have them ask every client whether they need recommendations for other types of vendors.
If my company is going to vouch for another vendor — and we do vouch for them; we let the clients know exactly how awesome the other vendor is and why we believe they’re a good fit — they have to meet three essential criteria:
- They have to be good at what they do. This should go without saying, but I wouldn’t recommend my best friend in the world if she wasn’t also great at what she does (she’s a fertility nurse, and happens to be awesome at it, so if you’re looking to expand your family and your dress size, hit me up for her info). The vendors I recommend have to be skilled at their craft. There’s a little wiggle room there, as someone else’s idea of great photography/music/flowers/whatever may be different from my own, but an unquestionable, basic level of talent has to be there.
- They have to take their business seriously. This one is a little trickier, as I know a lot of genuinely talented wedding vendors who not only hate the business side of things (the horror!) but also happen to be really bad at it. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend someone who isn’t going to return their clients’ calls, or who won’t deliver on their promises, or who is so behind the times in terms of marketing that their business just looks like a joke.
- They have to be good people. Genuinely good people. There sadly aren’t enough of those. I recommend a lot of people who aren’t my personal friends, but I don’t recommend gossips, backstabbers, users, abusers, creepers, pervs, liars, cheaters, plagiarizers, snobs, racists, sexists, homophobes, posers, and fakes. Oh, and I don’t recommend people who go out of their way to do harm to my business. Guess that’s obvious. Character is so important, especially when I’m putting my own name and reputation on the line to refer someone.
There are so, so, so many wedding businesses out there, especially in the Washington, DC wedding market. I think that makes having a clear set of standards for which of those businesses I want to actively help to grow is all the more important. I’d like to think we meet other business’ criteria for referral worthiness as well!