Vendor Relationships 101

Why hello there, entrepreneur! We wanted to give a quick rundown on how we find the vendors that we work with on a consistent basis. It’s been a little over a year since we moved to Napa, and when we got here we needed to reach out to vendors in the area to set up some new relationships! We found the best way to create meaningful vendor relationships was by following these steps!!

1. Do your research!

Research vendors that are true to your brand and style. If you’re dark and moody, then reach out to those dark and moody photographers too! It wouldn’t make sense for us to reach out to vendors who have a different vibe than us because it would only be setting ourselves up for disappointment if we got a ton of photos back that we couldn’t even use since they weren’t branded. Be smart and find the ones that will flow with your style. 

2. Send a professional email

If you want them to take you seriously, send them an email. It’s more professional and way less awkward than a DM. Doesn’t hurt to follow them on social channels, though and interact with them through there! 

3. Have intention to your message

Instead of just introducing yourself, offer to send them a sample pack or to meet for a cup of coffee. You want them to get to know you and your company, so make it genuine, personalized and professional. 

4. Don’t feel awkward about following up

Honestly, we get a lot of junk mail with pitches and “would you be interested” things, so it is possible that we could miss a genuine email from a vendor that just wanted to connect. Don’t feel bad about following up or even following up on Instagram as well! As my mom likes to say, “it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” 

Now how do you keep those vendor relationships thriving once you’ve worked with them?! 

Even though we’re in Napa now, what we love is that we can still work with our OC vendors because of the relationships that we have built with them over the years. Here are some tips for keeping those relationships strong, but also some things to look out for.

1. Educate them on what you do

A lot of vendors don’t know that we can do signage, cocktail napkins, laser cuts, bar menus, table numbers, and so much more. If there’s more than one thing that you do, tell them so they can keep you in mind! If you’re a photographer but also offer more specific things like album design + printing, newborn photography, workshops, etc. let new vendors know that! You never know who they might have that might need those extra services from you! 

2. Educate them on your process

The best relationships we have with vendors are the ones that know the way we work. If they know that we have professional invoices, scheduled consultations, an established and easy-to-navigate website and/or pricing sheet, and professional proofs then they are more likely to refer us to their clients and even friends! When they know how you work, they can confidently refer you without “hoping for the best” and this also makes it so much easier to work with them again and again. On the flip side – ask and learn vendors that you work with how they work so you can do the same.

3. Make sure you are tagging correctly

This one is SO important!! Tag all necessary vendors in the caption (that way if it’s re-posted those caption tags transfer whereas the actual tag in the photo doesn’t) and tag the ones in the photo that are used in the photo. If the photo is of a bride holding the bouquet, tag all vendors you know that has to do with the photo (hair and makeup, jewelry, dress, ribbon, etc.) but you don’t need to tag the DJ or the driving company in the actual photo. Planners and photographers should always be tagged. BUT – when we work with vendors who don’t tag us in anything or credit us for the work, it’s really hard to want to work with them again knowing they’re not going to help with something that really only takes a couple seconds. 

4. Support them like they support you!

This one sounds a little cheesy, but when you’re shouting them out and really showing genuine appreciation for their work, they are going to appreciate that and take notice! It’s a great way to grow your vendor relationships!

5. It’s okay to not like working with everyone

We’ve struggled with this before and still do! There can be a few vendors that take a toll on you or really grind your gears and that’s okay! Not everyone is going to be perfect and you’re not going to click with all of them. We’ve stopped working with vendors who we’ve seen do something sketchy that we don’t agree with, who don’t have our back or talk a lot of crap on other people, who have taken credit for “co-designing” invites when they didn’t even see the invitation design until they were printed, or who are so inconsistent that it makes it super hard to work with them. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person for not wanting to work with them, it just means you are on different pages. The less negativity you have, the less frustration and resentment you’ll have and the happier you’ll be!

If you’re looking for some of our absolute favorite vendors, you’re definitely going to want to check out our latest Complete Supply + Vendor Guide! The 2021 version is launching on July 30th, and if you get the 2020 version now, you get the updated 2021 version for free!

Any questions about vendor relationships? You know where to find us!

July 19, 2021