Choosing the vendors to supply your event can be a make or break decision. There are so many vendors to choose from that finding the best fit for the right price can be a challenge. More importantly, it only takes one wrong vendor choice to completely throw your event off kilter and create a bad experience for your event attendees.
Luckily, finding great vendors for your event doesn’t have to be a headache. It all comes down to doing research, identifying what you specifically need from each vendor, and knowing how much you’re willing to pay and how much you should pay for each type of vendor.
The following is a basic guide on how to find the right vendors for your next event.
- Make a Plan
Before you start contacting anyone, you need to have a solid plan mapped out. What type of vendors do you need? What type of services do you need provided? Are there some logistical items you might be able to do on your own? Knowing what needs to be provided by an outside source and what you can do in-house can set you up for success before you start making calls.
Here’s a basic list of some things you’ll want to consider:
Security: This is absolutely crucial. If your venue doesn’t provide security, look into hiring experienced, licensed security guards who are well trained but personable. There are companies that specialize in event security, so make sure you’re seeking out the right type of protection for your event.
Catering: If your venue doesn’t offer catering services, find a catering service that will work within the needs of your event. Caterers should come highly recommended and should have prior experience prepping food for large crowds in an event space. Try to seek out catering specifically rather than a restaurant to provide food. The difference boils down to a level of service and availability the day of the event.
Staffing: If you opt for a catering company that doesn’t include staffing for the event, consider hiring bartenders or wait staff to help serve at the event.
Seating: Your venue may not come with tables and chairs, so you may have to look into rentals. Make sure you find a company that also offers linens and additional labor to help set everything up!
Entertainment: The right DJ, artist, or entertainer can make or break your event. Start your search process early and make sure you know exactly what type of vibe you want to create at your event. This will make it much easier to weed out entertainers that don’t fit your event’s aesthetic.
- Get To Work
Once you have a plan, it’s time to start doing research on your potential vendors. You’re not just looking for a company to provide a service, you’re looking to build a long lasting relationship with a vendor you can rely on to help make your future events a success!
The easiest place to start is to work with your venue. They’ll likely have a list of preferred vendors they work with on a regular basis, which can simplify things significantly. If your venue doesn’t have any recommendations or you want to look into other options, do some online research. You’ll want to compare vendor ratings on Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, and even check the Better Business Bureau to see if the vendor has a subpar rating.
If you’re still having difficulty finding vendors, ask for referrals. Whether it’s from other vendors or other event planners, relying on your personal network can be a great way to find reputable vendors that work well with your event.
- Lock Down the Details
Once you’ve found your list of vendors, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty; the contract or service agreement. Now is your time to be thorough and leave nothing up to chance.
You’ll want to be meticulous and discuss every detail with your vendors so your expectations are clear and defined. The description of services including the date and hours, the cost and payment schedule, insurance, licensing, and permit information (if applicable) should all be explicitly outlined in your agreement. If they’re not clearly stated, talk through them with the vendor and get those items in writing.
If your vendor is offering a fixed event package, talk to them about their level of flexibility if what they have to offer doesn’t quite fit. You want to leave some room for negotiation but whatever you do, be upfront about your budget. If you ask what the vendor can supply at your price point, it’ll make it much easier to get what you actually need.
Finding the right vendor for your event doesn’t have to be a headache. If you do enough planning ahead of time and know what you’re looking for, it’ll make the entire experience much easier. Make sure you’re vocal about what you want, and don’t be afraid to ask questions rather than just taking what’s offered to you the first time.
Once you find the best vendor for your events, you’ll likely end up using them again and again, so make sure you treat this search process as a way to build a long term professional relationship. Vendors don’t “owe” you anything, they’re potential partners that can help elevate your event experience!