Building Vendor Relationships During The Pandemic
In times of crisis, we can all use a little extra support to keep us moving forward. Even amidst a pandemic that encourages physical distancing, vendors across the industry have found creative ways to show up for their colleagues in virtual capacities. Truthfully, there is no better time to work on building your industry relationships — with many events canceled or postponed, people have more time on their hands than in a typical calendar year.
It also provides a great opportunity to start planning ahead with your creative partners to ensure that you are all in prime position to meet clients’ needs and return to full operational status when the time comes.
Building strong vendor relationships can be particularly rewarding, as you may find yourself making the cut on their preferred vendor lists. While this shouldn’t be the only reason you engage with local vendors, it’s certainly a benefit that can make the effort worthwhile.
Let’s explore a few ways you can make an impact with your local vendor contacts.
Although we might not be gathering in person, that’s not a reason to stop connecting altogether. Instead, find new virtual solutions to keep the relationship strong. Zoom and FaceTime are both simple platforms that can help you engage as face-to-face as possible. If you are comfortable visiting in person, that’s always a great option as well — just be sure to mask up and maintain social distancing parameters. Use this time to get to know one another better and start making plans for collaboration when everything starts back up.
Jump on Facebook
Facebook is a great place to connect with others, but it’s easy to get lost in the never-ending feed of friends’ updates. Instead, create a Facebook group for local industry professionals to carve out a little space for your network to passively discuss questions and concerns. Right now, everyone is operating on a different schedule (especially when you consider how many are caring for children at home), so this is a great way for people to check in on their own time. Having a place where the door is always open goes a long way in building lifelong relationships.
Help out wherever possible
Find out what your vendor partners need and, when possible, see how you can help them achieve their goals. Help them to think through difficult questions and encourage them when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Right now, venues need a lot of extra help to keep the ship on course, so don’t be afraid to offer up a free weekend to hang out and help them out. When you show up and provide help, you’re forming a bond that will keep you on a venue’s radar and you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re in a position to make a referral.
Be a team player
Of course, one of the easiest things you can do to nurture relationships is to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t be the vendor that makes things difficult for them. There is a lot that is out of our control this year, but acting unhappy or causing drama does not help anyone or change the situation. Be prompt in your responses and remain intentional about making the process as smooth as possible. If you are trying to navigate a situation with your client, connect and make sure you’re on the same page before talking to the client. A great vendor relationship means you have one another’s backs.
The pandemic won’t last forever and we’ll eventually return to ‘business as usual’ — wouldn’t it be nice to enter that phase with the confidence and support of a formidable network? Use this time to your advantage and focus on strengthening those vendor relationships for a brighter and more profitable future.
Dixie Bagley is the owner of The Farm in Rome, Georgia – a European farm estate with lodging set in the north western Georgia mountains. The venue focuses on working with couples who want to give their guests a relaxed, but thoughtful countryside weekend wedding experience. Having been in the wedding industry for 12 years, Dixie is a master of multi-tasking and wants to make everyone feel at ease. Dixie holds a degree in exercise science from the American Council of Exercise and is Certified Wedding Planner & Venue Coach for The Bridal Society.