As the owner of my DJ business, but not someone who works "in the field," I get to avoid many of the on-site headaches experienced by many wedding professionals. (Hence why the submissions to our Super Secret, Super Anonymous Rants form are so mind-boggling.) It's always interesting to hear about others' experiences working at weddings, and the myriad of ways that vendors make each other's jobs harder.
In a conversation with a colleague last week, I was informed that it's not at all uncommon for vendors to show up completely unprepared to fulfill their own contracts. This particular person's service requires electricity, and he was explaining how often other vendors ask to use his cables and other supplies. In some cases, it's the wedding planner pressuring him to share his resources in the name of "working together." What an awkward position to be put in, right?
Call me crazy, but it seems like maintaining your own gear and supplies, so that you can fulfill the contracts for which you've been paid by your clients.is a pretty basic part of doing business. I'm not sure how these vendors can, in good conscience, accept money from a client and promise a certain product or service, and not come prepared to actually execute what they've promised.
Obviously I'm not talking about the occasional forgotten roll of gaffer's tape. I'm talking about so-called event professionals lacking the very basic tools and supplies required to do their jobs. I'm talking about people who make it others' problem to ensure they can fulfill their client's expectations. I'm talking about vendors abusing the concept of "teamwork" to distract from their own lack of organization. After all, who wants to be the bad guy in a situation that can affect the happiness of the newlywed couple? Who wants to look bad to the planner or the rest of the vendor team?
(It occurred to me that the unprepared vendor is kind of like the guy in class who always needed to borrow a sheet of paper, every day, without fail. Only in this case, the requests can distract you from your own work and can cost you money from your own pocket if the item borrowed isn't reusable or isn't returned.)
Being prepared for your events involves a few things:
Familiarity with the event space. Walk-throughs of a new-to-you venue are a great way to get to know the layout, the power availability and the load-in procedures. You can also reach out to the site contact in advance to have your questions answered. In my primary business, we also maintain a very detailed database of venues so that the members of our team can easily share their tips and tricks for a number of event spaces throughout the area - it's an invaluable resource that only grows more helpful as time goes on.
A basic "toolkit" that you maintain at all times. Whatever the basic tools of your trade (batteries, extension cords/cables, gaffer's tape, floral pins), you should keep them in one central location, have backups upon backups, and take inventory frequently. Preferably, you should do this before the event day itself - consider making it part of your Wednesday or Thursday routine to check your toolkit and ensure everything is ready to go.
An emergency backup plan. Any number of things can go wrong when setting up and executing a wedding. Have you thought through what you'll do if you are missing inventory, experience equipment failure, have contractors or assistants fail to show up? If it hasn't happened yet, please trust me that it will, sooner or later. Bigger companies can often maintain extra equipment or a backup team member to help in emergencies, but for solopreneurs, you're going to need to have a plan for MacGyvering your own solutions - before the problems happen.
Extreme gratitude for anyone who does have to help you out in a pinch. If you make a habit and a priority of keeping yourself prepared, it'll be rare that you have to rely on another vendor. Still, you should go out of your way to acknowledge and thank anyone who helps you out. If you borrow something, make sure you return it (and if it's not something returnable, such as tape, then you should replace it as soon as possible after the event). You should also drop the person a line of thanks after the event day itself. A little kindness and thanks goes a long way toward earning goodwill, and can help smooth things over if you were operating at less than your best.
Teamwork is a great concept for sure, but it also implies we're all bringing our A-game. Showing up prepared, and not counting on others to make it possible for us to do our jobs, is a big part of that.