Steve MoodyJeff and I had the pleasure of attending Steve Moody’s entertaining presentation, “Soaring to the Top of the Preferred Vendor List,” at EPMEN 2013.  Between chuckles over Steve’s antics, I managed to jot down some highlights.

Getting on the venue’s preferred vendor list is all about the relationship you create with them, and it hinges on everything you do before, during and after the event.

Before the Event

Whether you’ve worked at the venue before or not, contact the event manager about the details of the wedding.  This is a powerful way to distinguish yourself from the competition immediately.

On that call:

1. Confirm the date, times and logistics.  In particular, make sure your timeline jives with
theirs so there are no misunderstandings.

2. Ask about load-in instructions, parking, arrival time and anything else you should know

3. Get the name and contact information of the manager or room captain who is running
the event.

4. Give the manager your contact information and that of anyone on your team working
the wedding.

Make it known that you are a team player who is available to help with anything they might need.  After the call, send a follow up email confirming all the details you’ve discussed.

Do you think this might impress the venue?  Heck, yes!  You’ve already earned points towards that preferred vendor list.

At the Event

Steve gave so many amazing tips for relating to the different personality types you’ll encounter at wedding venues that I couldn’t possibly list them all.  (Read The Platinum Rule for details.)  However, he gave some great practical tips for continuing to build a referral relationship at the wedding.

At the wedding:

5. Introduce yourself to the staff and jot down their names.  (Hint: you’ll need this later.)

6. Be flexible and demonstrate that you are a team player.  Put aside your ego and lend a
hand; no “That’s not MY job!” attitude.

7. Tip the bartender and the wait staff.  They’ll love you and remember you for it!

8. Thank them at the end and use their names.

9. Above all, remember that you are a guest in their house and act accordingly.

Work with the venue to make them look good, even if they forget to honor those clauses in your contact.  Don’t complain to the couple about how you didn’t get the fed first or that your table is in the wrong place.

Look, I know how frustrating it can be when you’re not treated well, but if you want to get on the preferred vendor list, pitch in and make sure everything goes smoothly without complaint.

After the Event

Unfortunately, we had to leave the presentation before we could hear Steve’s grand finale!  So I’ll fill this section in with my own suggestions.

After the wedding:

10. Send a personal note thanking the banquet manager, maitre’d and wait staff by name.
Mention something specific to the wedding and compliment them on a job well done.

11. Send a thoughtful gift. This doesn’t have to be something physical; if the manager was
complaining about the website, email her a link to your awesome web programmer.  If
you’ve taken a particularly gorgeous photo, give it to them as a gift.

12. Blog about the wedding and how awesome the venue staff was to work with.  Make sure
you connect with them on social media, link to them and share it.

When you demonstrate thoughtfulness and make the venue look good during and after the event by promoting them, you WILL make an impression.  Do this a few times and you’ll rocket your way to the top of the Preferred List, earning those coveted venue referrals.

How did you get on the venue’s preferred vendor list?

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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6 thoughts on “A Dozen Simple Ways to Soar to the Top of the Preferred Vendor List”

  1. Bob Graham says:

    I have to agree with Jeff on this one. The preferred vendor’s list is EVERYTHING. It’s even better than a testimonial because it is another vendor vouching for your company. Treating that vendor like gold can make or break a business.


  2. David Fraser says:

    I’ve personally found that recommendations and referrals are the BEST and most inexpensive (in terms of time AND money) way of advertising.

    I don’t think Jeff is being unfair to call you out on this, YES, some venues will add inferiors to their preferred vendor list, but that’s by far the minority. Usually the preferred vendors are there because they’ve earned it and make EVERYONE look good before, during and after the wedding. All the little things that are mentioned in this article are GOLD. If you’re not doing them, this is why you’re most likely not making the best possible impression on the venues.

    Finally, who is ANYONE to say if someone is “not as good” or “over-priced”. The client ultimately will make the call on what to pay and if they received a fair value. It’s the LITTLE things that differentiate good from GREAT service.


  3. Dan says:

    Calling ahead sounds like a waste of time to me just be professional and friendly at the gig. Lucky for me most of my bookings are referrals from my happy customers. It is my experience that the over priced Mediocre Djs rely on preferred vendor lists to push their service. Unfortunately a lot of young couples think being on the vendors list actually means they should or even have to hire that company and end up paying an outrageous price when they could have gotten someone better for a fair rate.
    Just Saying,
    Danny Dj

    1. Jeff says:

      It actually can mean quite a bit when a venue who doesn’t charge to be on their list recommends you from the legion of vendors they see year in and year out. You seem to have made a negative judgement about being referred by a venue. Do feel the same about another vendor referral? Also, venues would tend to disagree with you about calling ahead being a waste of time. How would I know? I asked. Just saying 😉

      1. Dan says:

        From my experience in most cases venue recommendations only mean quite a bit for the vendors on the list not for the customer.

        1. “From my experience in most cases venue recommendations only mean quite a bit for the vendors on the list not for the customer.”
          Sorry, but I’m pretty sure your speaking from a very narrow view here. Most cases? How far have you ventured outside of your local market to prove this theory of yours? Its pretty clear your painting with a broad brush with out any real data to back up your belief. Is that really working for you?
          I’m calling you out on this because we and many others have profited mightily from venue recommendations because we delivered top notch service. Venues valued this as well as their customers. In the end, Happy customers and higher profit margins meant regular recommendations.
          If your not being recommended, you might want to check your ego and take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself “why am I not a regular recommendation at my local venues?” Otherwise you just end up making excuses that it’s some other reason my business is not on the “list”.

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