A note to my fellow vendors.
Updated: Jun 19
When I first endeavored to write this blog, I had a much different direction in mind, hence why it has taken me roughly three months to post it. My original plan was to explain The Big Fake Wedding, detail my experience, and provide an honest review of the whole affair.
In short, I had a great time at The Big Fake Wedding and would recommend it to any vendor looking to expand their network of vendors connections, potential clients, and build their portfolio.
But today I want to talk to a targeted few. People who have the power to turn the wedding industry on its head (even more so than the Big Fake Wedding has done with it’s innovative approach to a wedding expo). People who have the power to foster a more inclusive, more diverse, and ultimately less “clique-ish” environment for all those involved. I want to talk to my fellow wedding vendors.
Whether it’s from fellow vendors or former clients, roughly 60% of my new business comes from word of mouth recommendations. Who can relate? This is a very important statistic to note, and one I would encourage you to find out if you’re not already familiar with your number. I use the Lead Source function of Honeybook and regularly monitor my reports section to stay on top of this metric.
What’s so important about my primary lead source?
Well, here’s the gist. If 60% of my recommendations are coming from other vendors or former clients, doesn’t it go to show that 60% of my business would be largely impacted if those recommendations were NOT flowing in? I’d be operating at 40% of my normal “business as usual.” I think it goes without saying, in the business world, that’s not a good place to be.
Who was the last vendor you recommended to a bride or prospective client? Was it someone who looked like you? Did you research who could actually best serve your client’s needs, or did you simply refer them to someone you consider a friend, or someone who regularly sends work your way?
Or maybe, it was someone whose work you admire, but who you’ve never worked with before. Right off the bat, I can tell you that is the least likely scenario for me as a vendor. I want to make referrals I can support confidently. I want to ensure if I am referring this person, I have worked with them before and can vouch for their professionalism and quality.
Herein lies the problem: How many of us can claim to have an extremely diverse network of fellow vendors we have previously worked with and can vouch for their professionalism and quality?
Can you honestly say that your vendor network spans all races, colors and ethnicities and that you equally refer POC vendors just as much as you do all others? If you can, I applaud you. I certainly can’t make that claim.
This is where the difficult part comes in. In order for many of us to make that claim, we must actively strive to broaden our networks, initiate conversations, and create opportunities for cross-collaboration. It’s not enough to encourage clients to seek POC of vendors. Direct vendor referrals and partnerships go so much further than you think.
Don’t underestimate the power of your reputation and the platform you have been building as a trusted wedding vendor for years.
Clients depend on your expertise and recommendations just as much as they depend on a Google or Wedding Wire search of the highest rated vendors in their area. Maybe even moreso. None of us can influence every sphere of life. We can only hope to influence the sphere in which we are most deeply entrenched. If you truly want to effect change in the wedding industry, think back to my number.
Imagine if we used our platforms to reallocate where the bulk of our vendor referrals are directed, and in turn, changed the dynamic of the wedding industry as a whole.
Admit it. You have a shortlist of your favorite ‘frendors’ you constantly refer back to. You have worked with some of the same people for years, developing trusted relationships and equally contributing to each other's businesses. Having these relationships is amazing and oftentimes the work that comes out of multi-vendor collaborations is truly inspired. The only problem is when we do not seek to diversify these relationships or explore new collaborations with vendors outside of our immediate circle. I have discovered some of my most cherished friendships from unexpected situations and collaborations with vendors I did not plan.
For the sake of moving forward an industry entrenched in tradition— let’s create new traditions. Ones centered around creating space for everyone and intentionally expanding the network of people we work with and refer.
I made so many new frendors, and happily reconnected with former ones, at the Big Fake Wedding this past spring. Thank you @BigFakeWedding for creating a space where vendors can work together in such a unique and intimate way. Let’s commit ourselves to creating more opportunities like this. But more importantly, let’s make sure these opportunities are accessible, open, and authentic.
When it comes to making this world a more accepting, inclusive, and loving place, we can all do better. We need only start where we have been planted. Join me in committing to make the wedding industry an industry leading the way in inclusivity. After all, our industry is built first and foremost on love, is it not?