THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A “GOOD” VENDOR REFERRAL FROM ANOTHER VENDOR.
There are many unwritten rules of playing fair within any industry… the line is faded and frustrating. Many years ago, when you were a photographer, videographer or other vendor you saw referrals based on quality and trust. It is amazing to get referrals from other brides and grooms, from planners, from venues… and the list goes on. But that line of why we are referring someone is becoming quite jaded, and we need to keep our eyes and ears open for little ques that make a “referral” not so sweet or solid.
The biggest issue that has come to light is that vendors have learned that over the years they can get “paid” by other vendors for referrals. This is the first line that was crossed some time ago, when some venues and vendors decided that you had to only be of “average” quality and pay a huge chunk of money and they would put you on their referral list. There ARE some upstanding vendors out there that choose their referral list by experience, merit, value, quality of work and customer service ~ but definitely not everyone is in this category.
Things to look for that can be “red-alarms” when getting referrals from vendors, and questions that are important to ask.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask: Do vendors on your referral list pay to be on your referral list? That doesn’t mean that they are bad referrals, however, if they have paid to be there… you need to dig a little deeper. Check and double-check their experience, quality of work, and try to find other people who refer them as well.
2. Vendors that offer HUGE discounts if you go with ONE vendor only. If you are a professional, you should work well with multiple other vendors. Offering 30%- 50% off your services ONLY if they book with a specific other vendor should set off a HUGE red flag. They may be just new to the industry and are trying to align themselves with some great other vendors to pump up the quality of their own work, but playing well and being able to refer multiple other vendors that they work well with shows that they have more connections and people that they can produce well with.
3. Tell me about your referrals. When meeting with a vendor and getting references from them, ask them to tell you about the references and why you are referring them – be in tune to how excited they get about them and how much detail they can give about how they work, their style or how they service their clients. They should be able to do this about ALL of their referrals they are giving, including their experience, maybe how well they shoot in different environments, or how helpful and present they are with their clients.
In the wedding industry, referrals are the best form getting the best combination of vendors, which equals your best chances of getting top-notch results from them as a team. So after you ask the hard questions go with your gut… but vendors that play fair with other vendors and that are knowledgeable about their referrals means you are getting the best referrals. And vendors that can give you a few referrals from each service and that can describe to you why one or the other may be a great fit for them means they are concerned about what is best for you as a bridal couple too! However, a vendor that says you MUST go with a specific vendor to get a discount from them, OR locations that refer based on them being paid… let the red flags start flying.