Whether you’re working in a different city, your client insisted on working with this company, or perhaps you’re just giving someone new a shot, it’s important to ask new vendors the right questions that will help you understand how you can best work together. While you absolutely must customize these questions to your event and the service they provide, here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Research Them Ahead of Time
Before you come to a meeting or ask them any questions, research the company ahead of time. See if they have any mention of other events they’ve work on, or regular clients they have on their website.
Do your best to get a feel for them, and look for any online reviews you can find of the company outside of their website. Give yourself as much information as possible so you can ask questions that elaborate on a specific events they featured, and have a more thorough conversation at your introductory meeting.
Ask How They Work Best
Have the vendor walk you through their process and get a sense of how they work. A good planner is going to orchestrate an experience that makes it easy for the vendors to do their jobs. In order to do that, you have to know what they need, and what their preferences are. Questions about their onsite team size, load-in/load-out needs, set up, etc., will help you understand their work style and needs.
Understand Their Timeline and Working Style
Once you get a sense of how much time they need on-site, try to get a sense of overall execution needs. How far in advance is information needed from the client? What deadlines do they have for this event?
Get a solid understanding of what you will need to deliver to them and when so you can work with your client to make sure deliverables are on time.
Payments, Billing & Contracts
Everyone wants to get paid, so make sure you ask about this process for them. For your contract, ensure that you have a clause in case there is any failure to perform the job – particularly if they don’t provide the full service promised. While you can imagine that most vendors will do what they say, you want to make sure that you and your client are covered in case of any issues. Likewise, you want the vendor to have a good experience with you, so make sure you stay on top of any payment schedules, or other financial obligations and requirements.
Make an Effort to Meet In Person Prior to the Event
The best way to gauge a new vendor is to try to meet them prior. Depending on the type of company, it can be helpful to meet at their business. For physical product, have them show you examples, or at the very least, make sure you do a walk through at the event venue prior to the event. Meeting with a vendor in person really gives you a sense of their presence, how they work and interact, and what you can expect for your event.
Be Friendly, Informative and Positive
Working with a new planner can be hard at first, so it’s important for the vendor to realize that you’re not assuming they won’t do their job, but rather, you’re trying to understand them. When you haven’t worked with someone it can feel uncertain, or you may have some concerns – that’s normal. But you don’t want the vendor to feel like you don’t trust them, or perhaps you’re accusing them of not being able to deliver. That will immediately put a strain on your new relationship, and the client will notice. Therefore it’s important to go in with a positive approach, ask good questions that are specific to your event and make sure everyone feels good about the work that needs to be done.
Much of an event planner’s job is to create a sense of clarity, ensure good communication and to make the organization of the event easier for all parties involved. Doing your diligence on a new vendor while also making sure the vendor feels good about working with you is equally as important as you feeling good about them.
Using these questions and tips will help build your first collaboration meeting, which will hopefully results in another great new vendor being added to your list!