How do you get on and stay on wedding venues‘ preferred or recommended supplier lists?
In a highly competitive market, when you are starting up or trying to grow your business, referrals are one of the best types of advertising. One of the best forms of referral is from a successful wedding venue adding you to their preferred or recommended supplier list, as these lists are usually given to every couple that books.
Why do venues have supplier lists?
It makes sense for venues to have supplier lists that they give to booked couples, as part of their service, as on the day of a wedding, venue staff and suppliers have to work closely together to deliver the event. The list of endorsed vendors is usually suppliers that the venue is confident working with and who have never let them down. Often the suppliers are local to the venue, so that if an issue arises they are able to sort it quickly and without a drama.
What’s the difference between a preferred supplier and a recommended supplier list?
Both lists are suppliers that venue staff like to work with.
- A preferred list, is merely a suggested supplier list, which usually means that couples can choose to use their own. The venue’s list will possibly be long, can change frequently (as they are introduced to new suppliers on a regular basis), but also means that if a supplier is not active, they can lose their place and can even drop off the list
- A recommended list is often made up of suppliers who have worked at a venue for a considerable time and secured their place on the list, by probably:
- meeting and adhering to strict criteria and guidelines
- paying a commission to the venue for every booking
- committing to and paying to be included in the venues wedding brochure, on their website and at their wedding fairs
- offering booked clients exclusive discounts.
More often than not, having a recommended supplier list means that couples cannot use their own suppliers. For a supplier, it can be extremely difficult to get onto the list, as these venues are likely to limit the number of vendors of a particular type. For example, they might have only five photographers listed.
Why is it important to be on a number of venue supplier lists?
It is good to remind ourselves that the worst number in business, apart from zero is one. If you are reliant on just one venue promoting your services, the loss of that venue can have a catastrophic effect on your business. As part of your business strategy, to be successful, you need, without spreading yourself too thinly, to spend the lion’s share of your effort on attracting new clients, and one of the best ways is to be on a number of venue supplier lists.
Which venues should you target?
Having an understanding of your target audience is imperative, if you want to be successful. You need to understand what your customer wants, where and when and how. Look at things from their perspective and then put all your effort into ’speaking’ to them. So if two venues want you to attend their wedding fair, on the same date, choose the one which will hopefully deliver your preferred client.
Every venue will probably have a different way of selecting suppliers. In my view the best thing you can do is to politely ask what are their criteria.
As an example when I managed an Art Gallery Events team, because we had to adhere to tight restrictions and rules, we applied the 10 Cs selection criteria:
- We made an assessment of the supplier’s capabilities
- We ensured the company had enough capacity to handle our requirements, which included staffing, equipment and storage as often they had to arrive on site speedily and without disrupting the public activities- we assessed this by going out to their premises
- The supplier needed to prove its commitment to high standards – for instance a Chair Coverer needed to ensure each chair was consistently well tied as standards of presentation within a contemporary art gallery are imperative
- The supplier needed to prove they were committed to us, would never let us down, always delivering on time, no matter the needs of its other customers
- It was important that the company were good at communicating, ensuring they kept us up to date, especially if things were going wrong
- It was Important for a public funded organisation, to ensure that the suppliers were sustainable and adhered to environmental best practices, so any evidence of green accolades and credentials was important for us. It was important that their reputation was unblemished and also that they treated their staff and their own suppliers well
- It was important to understand how much control the suppliers had over its own policies, processes, procedures and supply chain and wherever possible e.g. with the Caterer, they sourced their products locally
- Each supplier had to prove they had good financial health, as we could never be left exposed, as this could lead to negative press. So all suppliers had to supply paperwork to prove they were financially stable
- We regularly compared prices of the product or services to ensure our clients were getting best value for money
- The best business relationships are based on sharing the same values and beliefs, so it was important for us that the suppliers not only respected the work of the gallery but that they were prepared to raise the bar in terms of presentation, quality and pushing the boundaries, but were also warm, friendly, and polite to staff, other suppliers and guests.