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April 21, 2016

Creating Strong Vendor Relationships 5 Things You Can Start Doing Now

5 Ways To Create Strong Vendor Relationships In The Wedding Industry by Christina Forbes Photography

I’m sure you have heard of The Rising Tide Society or Creative at Heart by now. If not that’s okay. But you should definitely check them out. These 2 groups just eat, sleep, breathe and shout the importance of embracing each other and really celebrating community. And over the past 3 years that I have been in the wedding industry, I can tell you that things are changing! And it’s great changes. Throughout the weddings I have shot as primary and even second shooter, I can tell you that creating strong vendor relationships is vital to your business. Not only that but it makes the wedding industry better as a whole. And just think, when we’re all on the same page and collaborating, we’re inspiring and lifting each other up. Who benefits the most from that? Our couples. Afterall they’re the ones that bring us all together that day. We shouldn’t be thinking about US and our needs. We should instead be thinking about what we need to do to make sure that TOGETHER as a wedding creative team we’re providing this amazing wedding experience for our couple.

So how exactly do we create strong vendor relationships with one another?

5 Ways To Creating Strong Vendor Relationships

  1. Reach Out & Say Hello: It’s really that simple. If you’ve never met before simply send an email introducing yourself & your business. If you want to stand out a little more, send a little introduction card with a handwritten note and add a $5 dollar gift card to Starbucks. If I know that my couple is using a wedding planner, I try my best to make sure that I introduce myself before, so that on the wedding day we will already be acquainted. This is SUPER important. If you want to make a great connection & impression, be sure to introduce yourself or simply say hello. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have seen vendors not even say hello to one another. And I can promise you they remember if you snub them.
  2. Handwritten Note: Now a days it’s not as common to receive cards & letters in the mail. And that’s terrible. Think about how you feel when you open that mailbox and there’s an envelope addressed with your name. Don’t you get a little excited? And when you open it you can’t help but smile when reading it? Why not share that excitement with someone else. You can send these little notes after a lunchdate, wedding, and just because you want too. Just saying thank you or offering up encouraging words can really brighten someone’s day.
  3. Learn from each other: I can’t stress this enough. It’s so important that we try to learn from one another. No I’m not trying to learn how a florist or a wedding planner does their job so that I can do it myself. I want to learn from them the reasons behind their critical thinking decisions so that just in case the situation occurs again I would already be familiar with a possible solution. Sharing information so that you can work more closely and deliver a much better client experience, only makes things much easier. I remember when a florist shared with me that there really is a front & back to a bouquet and that the pins is what generally defines it. Had that florist not taken a minute to show me that, I would still be wanting to put the pins in the front because I thought it was for looks. Taking the time to learn from each promotes not only trust in each other’s expertise but great respect for one another.
  4. Celebrate on Social Media & Blog Posts: When I’m curating my blog posts I’m taking into consideration that my couple’s entire wedding creative team have an opportunity to be recognized. Each and every member of that team contributed to the wedding day. And without the team and all their hard work, I wouldn’t be able to capture the wedding day as I love to. I want the other creatives to want to share their work to their future clients using my images.  I call that team marketing. We’re using one image to promote each other. That’s why it’s SO important that when the team members are using those images that they’re being sure to give credit. It’s saying thank you to the photographer for giving you the permission to use their images for promotion. Just think not to long ago this was next to unheard of. Share each others posts. I love being able to share posts from wedding planners and florists with my couples. Again this is marketing sharing at it’s best. If you see a creative vendor has accomplished something whether it being hitting their goal, receiving an award or offering a new service/product, be sure to tell them congratulations and how excited you are for them. Do a special shout out where you introduce them into your social media feed.
  5. Refer Each Other: I understand having “preferred vendor lists”. Yes it’s nice being able to send a list of your favorite vendors to a couple hoping that they might use one of them. Who wouldn’t want to walk into a wedding knowing that you have the best of the best from your list. You automatically feel so much more confident about your day right? But here’s the thing. What if you have no one to refer to your couples too because they’re all booked? Or what if you missed out on the opportunity of being able to work with a new vendor that might just be REALLY amazing to work with? Don’t get so fixated on a pre-determined list because you might just miss out and your couple ultimately suffers because they’re working with a vendor that really doesn’t fit them perfectly. With that being said, take the extra time to consider the referral. Why would you refer a client to a vendor that you know is for example out of budget or not a fit stylistically? Save your client and the vendor the time and think about it before you send it. I started this over last wedding season and I love it. If I’m referring a client to another creative vendor, I go ahead and CC them to the response. And not only am I doing that, but I’m introducing them to each other. I also include a link to their work and I give a brief response as to why I love the creative vendor and why I think their a better fit. What your doing is praising the creative vendor and your already establishing a basis for a great working relationship.

While there are so many other wonderful ways to build & shape strong relationships with other wedding creatives, remember that ultimately being a nice, thoughtful and genuine person goes a long way. If you’re not authentic and genuine people can sense that really quickly. So be yourself, love on others and serve your couples and I promise that you will love what it does for your business! You lose nothing by helping one another, but you have everything to gain.

If you’re a wedding creative/vendor I would love to hear what you’re doing to try to create a strong relationship with your vendors? And how has it helped your business?

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I'm Christina, a destination engagement & wedding photographer based in NC, with a love for all things coastal, southern and preppy! Here on my blog you'll find my engagements + weddings, education for brides + photographers and my latest travels and personal thoughts!

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