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Hiring a vendor can be tough. They have knowledge you don't. It's hard not to feel ripped off.
At the same time, vendors need business. So it levels the playing field somewhat.
These 4 steps will help you with any vendor and save some much needed cash.
Step 1. Be Nice
Most event vendors deal with hundreds of clients, and it only takes a couple of entitled people to ruin someone's day. But if you can just be polite and direct, it's a good first step to getting your event more affordable.
Step 2. Know what you want.
Before you contact a plant or floral vendor, we recommend knowing the following:
- The size of the space that needs addressing. For example, is it a a wall, a corner, or shelf space?
- The texture / look / feel you're going for - soft, rough, light, heavy, old school, modern
- The overall vibe or theme - "Forest", "Jungle", "Futuristic", "Bohemian", "Beach", "Chill"
Client: "I'm looking to cover a corner space, about 6' tall, fun jungle-ey vibes"
Us: "Cool! We have just the thing - Areca Palms, super festive and tropical party vibes"
Client: "I need some backdrop for a photoshoot - it's a campfire theme. 6' - 7' tall"
Us: "Awesome - we have beautiful pine trees and junipers. I'll send some pictures over"
When you know what you want, and the sizing, it makes everyone's life easier. All you have to know is the space you need to cover and the vibe or theme you're going for.
3. What's the budget?
Doesn't matter if it's plants, lighting or furniture. You gotta have a ballpark on what you're trying to spend. Big difference between $100 and $1,000, or $500 and $5000!
But how do you know you're not being ripped off? Great question. Usually, the idea is to call around, with all your info ready. That way, a vendor can just plug in the numbers.
You: "I need kentia palms, 5' - 6' tall, in black cylinder planters".
Vendor: "Great, this is the price"
You'd be surprised how many people call and don't do this first. Personally, I'm always inclined to give a better price if I feel like the person isn't wasting my time.
4. Negotiate - The Do's and Don'ts
- Use any version of "If you help us now we'll help you later".
Event planners use this time to time. And every single one has never followed through on it. For most vendors I talk to, it's pretty insulting.
Even if you're honest, and just want to negotiate, think about it: who can really promise future work? Unless you're willing to commit to future work as a part of a broader agreement, stick to what you can honor.
- Think of a reasonable number, and see what they can offer.
Occasionally a client will say to us, "the proposal is $X, my target was $Y. Can we have a discount?"
The answer most of the time, is no. We generally give the fairest price possible, specifically so we don't have to go back and forth.
But! and this is a big one...sometimes we can work with you. As I imagine most vendors could, if it's possible. It's just how you ask.
"This is for (Celebrity) / (Important Magazine) / (Instagram Star), it will be great exposure for you!"
More often than not, companies will frame their job as an opportunity for exposure, asking for a substantial discount.
That might work for vendors with minimal overhead or expenses (I.E. job with laptop). Most labor-related companies (like ours) can't do it.
(Proposal at $X) "I'm ready to move forward, I need it to be at $Y. If I move forward now, can we go for it at $Y?
There are a couple of advantages here. Vendors are ready to strike a deal and move forward, not go back and forth. If you offer a firm deal ready to be signed, they're more likely to go for it.
Also, if it's a reasonable request, and you're making a non-line item rental of multiple items for a bulk price, vendors will do their best to be accomodating. The only time they wouldn't is for an item that regularly sells out, or is difficult to get.
Bottom line: The only people who get a discount, ask for one. But it depends on what you ask for. We're not heartless, we have families to feed too! We keep our pricing as fair as possible.
Ask for things that will work for the space, but don't get rented out alot.
If you call and ask "hey, what's something that you want to rent out, something that's easy for you guys, but won't cost a lot of money". Especially in the summer time, we have an excess of shrubs and plants. You can often get more for your money if you ask for greenery that isn't used as much, and you might score a deal out of it.
Remember: Be open to creative solutions. Don't just have a million dollar idea in your head, especially when you don't have a million dollars.
If you respect a vendors time, offer a reasonable counter offer, with the promise of signing off right away, and you give plenty of details, there's no reason why you can't get a good deal. Not only that, you'll be remember as someone who is a pleasure to deal with, which will give you priority status if you ever need to use that company again.
Do you have vendor strategies? Let us know in the comments.