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Vendor Inquiries: Lessons of Communication and Manners

22 Feb

Today we wanted to cover a post on email etiquette, manners and vendor/client communications…

Recently a Bride decided to post a rant and “open letter” to Wedding Vendors through a large  Bridal site. Fast forward through its circulation across main bridal forums, blogs, etc. over the past week or so and the response is the same; Though the bride does have some valid points, she’s become a complete joke, not only is the post one sided and missing many key elements, but comes off with a low level of maturity…She’s also now just alienated herself from Vendors she wishes to likely hire for her big day. Her post, although with an intent, was not coming from a “source” but that of “one bride” and what “she wants”, thus fueling the dramas and parade of Bridezilla-like actions out there.

So with that, I sat down with a  number of vendors in many areas of services to openly go over this and created a list of top areas we feel client’s need to know about. Here are a few key points many vendors would like to make clear, time and time again, to clients regarding general manors, inquiries and just overall conducting of business. This is business in the end, we are here to provide a service and make sure your day is the best possible day it can be! 🙂

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#1 – Answer our questions in a timely fashion. Answer everything, read all the items we send you (we aren’t just spinning our wheels). Remember that we have other clients and your email may have to wait a day to get an answer. Be reasonable. Be polite. Replies sent on a Thursday or Friday, right before a busy weekend where we are likely on location for a 10+ hour day, 2-3 days solid, they might not get a reply until Monday, AFTER Our bridal clients big days!

Bridal services are generally booked by all vendors on a first come, first serve basis, to whomever secures their date/spot with a contract and retainer. This means, if you do not reply back, bookings and inquiries do continue to come through  – all day, every day…

Thus do not be “surprised” if and when a vendor has now booked your  date that you inquired for 3 weeks ago, if you never did reply back to them! If you never replied back, they will book the next inquiry/bridal client that comes through. Date are not put on “hold” just because you sent an email out to a bunch of vendors. To then blow up on that vendor for doing their job, is just unacceptable, especially if it’s at the client’s negligence.

#2 – When you send a vendor an inquiry, and we send you an email about our services or pricing list, we actually would absolutely love to hear back from you, please have a courtesy of replying back to us, don’t disappear from the face of the earth forever. We want to know if you got our email or not, we want to know if you are interested or not, at least, thank us for taking our time  and responding to your inquiry, supplying you with information, etc…. This is really not much to ask.

#3– When you e-mail for a quote. Be specific. A vague email serves us no good, if we have no idea what we are quoting for…Many times brides completely forget to even list a date!!!  We might already be booked, there’s no point starting an entire process, if we might not even be available right?

“Telling me “I need 10 round linens” means nothing to me as a  vendor…What size do you need, what color do you want, do you have a fabric in mind? Do you only need linens? How about napkins, chair covers etc.”

“I need Beauty services for my wedding, you available?” Ok… What date, what time, how many people? which services? Location? etc.”

“Hi, what are your rates?”  – Again, address the person you are contacting, we do have a name.

Next, many of us do have a page marked “Rates” right on our websites to give client’s an idea at the very least on general starting packages. Not all, but most in the wedding fields do. Nothing becomes more frustrating receiving a vague email like this, over and over, all day long, compounded by someone who clearly chose not to take 2 minutes out to click right beside the contact page they used to send this message of inquiry! You want to know “Rates” only, please click on the page marked “Rates” or “Investments”

Brides often post on forums about Vendors not replying or replying with messages that might imply “please read my website”. Why does your vendor want to respond to someone who can’t even take a minute to address them by name, or read a clearly listed “Rates” page for someone only asking for a “Rate”?

This is usually the first red flag for a “difficult” client in the making. Whether or not you may be one… Sad but true 😦

If a person is unable to follow even the most elementary of tasks, how are they going to progress through the vendors stages and/or planning?

#4 – Returning phone calls is nice. You blew up our phone and e-mail asking for a quote. Now that you have received it, it would be nice if you would let us know you received it. When we e-mail to follow up, a simple “I’m still gathering quotes or I’m still thinking about it” would be nice. Please don’t ignore us, It’s rude.

#5 – Don’t lie about your budget. When we ask what is your budget we don’t want to hear “I’m open as long as I like it” then respond with “Wow that’s expensive” or “You’re way out of my Price range”… SO YOU DO  have a budget then…share it with us and don’t waste others time by being vague or neglecting to even read the “Rates” pages listed for vendors in question, requesting meet ups, etc.

You’d be surprised how many vendors can accommodate services, no matter what size the budget, or at the very least offer you alternate suggestions if you aren’t being realistic. Everyone has a budget, we know that, what we need to know is what’s YOUR Budget.

When it comes to services, it goes both ways, the vendors you seek out should be more than happy to provide you with information and all your questioned answered.  Most vendors usually share a large portion in the first email back to you, take the time to read through it. At the same time there is an expected level of courtesy that needs to be returned…

Understanding of the Bridal process is a two way, yes “you’re so busy with things and just forgot”, but your vendors too have sometimes upwards of 75+ OTHER brides they are currently dealing with, plus inquiries coming through, meetings, jobs being performed and more, so really, just how “busy” are you that you couldn’t take 5 minutes out for a reply back?

So remember, we know everyone is busy, different budgets and needs, what we need to know is your specifics, not vague one liner emails, in order to be able to both accommodate and give you the best possible results for the services that are being higher-ed for…. We are here to make your day as perfect as possible!

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Why you should book your Wedding Vendors early…

8 Feb

Did you know that the highest number of engagements occur during the months of November through February?  With the prime question-popping holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day all one right after the other, it’s no wonder that we receive our highest number of bookings during that time. Hence why you will find, that by the time January rolls around for the start of the next bridal season, majority of your vendors will already be booked and closed by then, especially for Spring/Summer months!

Don’t want to compete with the huge rush of brides wanting to book all their vendors for their 2012 wedding?  Book BEFORE the engagement season takes over…

Typically, the first things to happen on the wedding day are Hair and Makeup services.  Whether this is first thing in the morning or first thing after lunch is up to you, but generally we get there before your photographer is due to arrive and long before all your other vendors.

This is why Beauty services are generally one of the first and fastest services to book up!! Especially those seeking the luxury and convenience of MOBILE Bridal services were your artists come to you in your home or at hotel location. As covered in our booking and timeline posts. These services generally book a minimum of 6 months to 1 year in advance. Spring/Summer months and all long weekend dates (Fridays included) generally averaging closer to the 1 year mark!

Here are some tips and things to consider about booking your vendors and why earlier is better.

Don’t believe what you see on TV.

With all these Bridal shows now, they’ll have you believing that you can plan a lavish event in mere weeks or a few short months. In most cases this is very untrue. What they don’t show you is the dozens of vendors hired in, to make everything a reality, dozens of teams hired on for just basics like set up and take down, let alone the actual details.

In the real world, it doesn’t quite work that way.  Wedding planning takes time, unless of course you don’t have a job and have unlimited time to juggle all your vendor appointments, fittings, taste tests, trials, and more…This is also why the average stat for engagement/planning stage is 14 months.

Your Stress is your own!

Yes, I know that sounds harsh, but let’s face it, if you hadn’t of procrastinated and waited until the mere month before the wedding, you wouldn’t be rushing around all drama like and taking it out on everyone. It’s because of you and it’s not fair for you to take that out on others.

The brides we see the most stressed out, are always the ones that left everything up until the mere few months before the date, now they scramble around work schedules, kids, school, etc. to get it together.

Somehow they thought they’d have plenty of time to book all their vendors, have all their appointments, make the decisions, then reconfirm all those details the week before? Really?

I can’t tell you how many brides we turn away every  year, who contact us in say July, for an August wedding. The busiest month(s) of the entire year and you left it until 3 weeks before the wedding? Sadly, by that point, they might as well go to the makeup counter or find someone on Craigslist, as all the professionals are likely booked MONTHS Prior, if not longer.

What happens then? STRESS – They begin to freak out, calling everyone they can find and mass messaging vendors  to find someone who isn’t already booked. Usually resulting in a family member or friend, with no idea about photography ready makeup, decor ideals, etc…. we then see a flood of “Help me” posts running rampant on the bridal forums.

In the rare instances we do still have artists open, or a vendor might be available still, the brides are already so stressed it can make for a very tense situation and thus many bridal vendors just based on that alone, will turn away a client!

Save money

In the case of last minute clients, that is a perfect example, on what’s likely to cost you more. Many vendors will now charge you more, there will be late booking fees and so on, in many cases FULL Payment is now due upfront! You now have created a stressful working environment for them, leaving them rushing around to accommodate you last minute for a trial or meet up, processing paperwork, rush bouquets, that list goes on.

You want your vendors to be able to provide you with the very best, not slap something together for you in 2 days. It’s not fair to you, or them. Sadly, you then see the brides that have the nerve to complain when a Vendor can’t meet the criteria’s in such a short time, can’t get the supplies requested, or doesn’t have an open booking at their convenience, due to having other client’s booked in MONTHS beforehand…I mean seriously think about that, the entire situation at hand rests solely with the bride at that point and the procrastination of a last minute booking.

So just remember, it does not matter what vendor it is you are seeking, booking them in advance is going to save you a lot of headaches in the end, give you ample time to plan, the ability to change things as needed and just overall make the experience a lot more enjoyable. It’s never fun feeling rushed, especially for a day where there is a lot of time and money being spent. This is your day, take the time you need to make it prefect for you. An experienced professional will have a game plan for any situation, and getting your hands on that knowledge early on will save you stress, time, and money in the end.

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