Having armed yourself with the knowledge of how a venue selects suppliers, the first step is to try to get an event booked at the venue, so that they can see how you work and how you interact with the staff, clients and guests. I appreciate this is not always easy. However, if you are a good networker, another supplier might recommend you to the organisation, perhaps they are aware of issues with one of the venues existing suppliers – it is often about who you know.
If you are fortunate to get a gig and want to make a good impression, it is all about the relationship you create with the venue, and it hinges on everything you do before, during and after the event.
Everything you do has to be of quality and you should pay particular attention to detail. Remember, venues only want to refer people to their clients that they are comfortable with and that will reflect on them positively. Here is a list of ideas, that should help you to be successful.
- You should immediately let the venue have a copy of your indemnity insurance, don’t wait to be asked
- If you are using anything electrical such as a photo booth you should supply all your electrical PAT Testing paperwork etc. – again don’t wait to be asked
- If you are a remote supplier like a Stationery Company and need to deliver before the day of the wedding, it is essential to find out the necessary information to show you care and respect the staff. So I would recommend ringing in advance to find out:
- the main point of contact
- an email address, and telephone number, not only of the office but for the day-of the deliver, in case you have an emergency
- about the parking protocol
- if there is a trade entrance
- if there is another wedding on the planned delivery day and if so what is the protocol
- what is the best time to delivery etc.
- If you are a supplier who will be spending time at the venue on the actual day such as a Band, you should ring and discuss matters such as where you can get changed, what is the earliest time for set up and, if the venue is feeding you, don’t forget to tell them of any dietary requirements
- If you are a Florist, it is always best to organize a site tour, as this will ensure you can deliver what the client wants and that things can fit through doors. Or if you are a DJ with a photo booth check the floor is load bearing, and won’t cause issues for the venue on the day, as that leads to stress and might result in your ‘application’ being rejected
- Cake makers might want to specifically check about the drive up to the venue so that if it is bumpy, pack the cake accordingly
- Remember to ask when the venue expects items to be collected/picked up, as some specify that at the end of the night your items might be disposed of – always be sure to understand the venue’s policy as it could be a costly mistake
- Always take business cards when delivering to a new venue – the amount of times I’ve asked a new supplier for cards and they don’t have them with them is unbelievable. I recommend having a stash in your vehicle
- Always check, when arriving at a venue, the house rules for that day – such as no boxes on the clean table linen etc.
- As soon as you arrive, find who is in charge and make sure they know you have arrived. Try to build a good rapport and ask if you need to check back with them before leaving – sensibly some venues will not let a supplier leave without ensuring they have everything checked off
- Always introduce yourself to any other suppliers, as they may give you more information on what you can or can’t do and can ultimately become one of your best advocates as they enjoy working with you
- If the venue provides a great backdrop, check with the venue if it is okay to take some pictures and when it is okay to post the pictures on social media as some couples might have asked for an embargo on the day. Ideally if you can ask who the photographer is and get an introduction, ask them if they can share their professional shoots with you
- If you are a photographer think about how you can impress the venue, by not just taking great pictures of the wedding but also the catering. Also think about specific photos for the vendors you have just met and share them with them
- Never argue with a venue. If they state their music level is 90-96dB adhere to it. By arguing, you run the risk of upsetting a member of the team and as a consequence you will certainly never make it onto their supplier list
- Remember if you are running late or something has gone wrong, always ring the venue and make them aware of your issues, but importantly tell them what you are doing to resolve the issue, so that they don’t worry that you are not in control
What should you do post event?
If you believe a delivery went well and that the venue was complimentary of your product or your service, make sure you send a personal note thanking the venue for making you feel so much at home, (set up a template – see my blog on the importance of thank yous). Let them know how much it would mean to go on their supplier list now or in the future. If you took any photos that you think worthy of sharing, send them and just ask to be credited if they use. Also offer to attend a meeting to discuss the additional services you offer (but don’t just drop in unannounced, they won’t appreciate it), and offer to attend on a midweek slot, as that is when venues tend to work on their admin.
If the venue agrees to a meeting, what should you prepare?
- You should think carefully. If the venue started working regularly with you, what would you be able to bring to their couples that others can’t? For example, if a photographer and you are applying to an art gallery, perhaps you love an aspect of photographing in white spaces?
- Dress smartly and don’t forget to turn off your phone as you arrive – remember there is no second chance
- Show and share recent press or publications you have been featured in and list any awards you have won so that if you are successful, the venue can explain to their clients that you have just won, for example, the Kent Wedding Stationary Award
· Share testimonials from past clients and ideally from venues
- Take extra business cards just in case they ask you to leave some.
What do you do if a venue agrees that you can go on their supplier list?
If you get picked you must respect that position, and never take it for granted as, remember personnel change at the venue. So you need to build a raport with everyone who works there. You should, after celebrating, post something on your social media, and let the venue know when you have posted so that they might share, for example:
Once on a list, always keep up-to-date with the venue’s activity, which means following them on social media, liking and sharing. Do simple things, like letting them know when you are going on vacation – just drop them an email – so they aren’t chasing you unnecessarily. Always make sure the venue has up-to-date printed collateral and that your details are going out with their wedding brochures and of course, if you are a photographer, check that your photo album it is not looking tired or is no longer up to date (for example, contains pictures of a marquee when the venue has had a new building constructed), because venues just won’t show out of date books. And always remember to thank the venue, if a client has booked you.
What should you do if you are turned down by a venue?
The most important thing is to be patient, and don’t be discouraged. I recommend sending the venue a note thanking them for their time, ask for feedback and remind them if they did ever find themselves in need, you would like to think they could ask you.
Then if you win an award, get some great coverage in a magazine or launch a new product, don’t forget to write a quick press release and share with the venues you still want to get in. Keep building your relationship with the venue, send clients to the venue, respond to their social media posts, and network with the points of contact at industry events. Remember the more successful the venue, the more difficult it can be to get in.