Vendor Recommendations with DOC Clients

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Arlene writes:

I am writing to ask your opinion on what to do when your clients try to “milk” you. I have clients who book my company for Day of Coordination services and then e-mail me trying to find out what florist they should use and various other bits of advice. I offer them packages that will assist them with those things as well hourly consultations at an additional cost, but they still keep e-mailing me. How do you handle these types of situations?

This issue is pretty common, but I believe it can be reduced by managing some expectations up front.  For me personally, I tell day-of coordination clients at the initial consultations that I am more than happy to give recommendations for vendors they have not yet hired at no charge.

There are of course a few parameters to this offer.  The recommendations are not necessarily customized, but I will give them the names of two or three florists I enjoy working with and who will do a good job for the bride and groom.  If the couple needs to know a vendor who will hand sew lounge pillows from the wool of gray long-haired sheep from Morocco, then of course there will be a charge for the research involved in that type of vendor sourcing.

I tell my clients that I would rather work with people whom I know will do a great job for them and whom we work well with then to take a risk on an unknown vendor they found on a blind Google search.  Most of my clients understand that line of reasoning and boundaries.

For me, this is what works.  I don't mind not making money by giving out a few basic vendor suggestions because it usually means a better result in the long run.  When we work with people who will do their respective jobs with excellence, it helps us execute a wedding that the couple and their guests rave about, which results in more referrals for us later on down the road.  In that case, not charging for giving a florist's name results in more work and profit for my company later on, which would not necessarily be the case had we worked with someone who had flaked or done a poor job. 

In the case of customized recommendations, I would remind them that there is a charge for that service as it is additional to the day-of coordination they have hired you for.  I would remind them politely each time they ask.  If they just want some names though, I'd give those with the explanation of why those are gratis and the customized are not.  Repeating it may make you sound like a broken record, but sometimes that is what it takes when clients can't seem to understand that professional boundary.

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