Whom Do You Trust?

November 18th, 2009
No disappointments here!  Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

No disappointments here! Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

How do you know which vendors are trustworthy?  How can you be sure to hire people who will deliver?  How do you avoid wedding scam artists?  If you’re planning a party or a wedding, I am sure that these questions have crossed your mind.

Well, because of who I am, I will give you the self-promotional answer first and then some further thoughts:  The easiest way to get trusted vendors is to hire an event planner who doesn’t take commissions from vendors and ask for her recommendations.  Not only does a professional have to have good contacts, but also no vendor is going to take a chance by letting down a planner.  Vendors rely on planners to recommend them to future clients, so they are less likely to let you down.

Not everyone can or needs to hire a professional planner, however.  If you are hiring vendors on your own, here is how I find good ones.  First, I ask around.  Someone you know has the information you want.  I found my favorite caterer via the recommendation of a friend of my mother-in-law.  You never know who knows someone.

Then, always (and I do mean always) check references.  Ask for the names and phone numbers or e-mail addresses of at least three recent clients.  Don’t just get the information but also call or e-mail these people.  They have agreed to be references so they won’t mind talking to you.  Chances are, they are more than happy to tell you the good experiences they had with the vendor.  Ask specific questions, such as:

  • Did this person deliver on what they said they would do?
  • Were they easy to work with?
  • Did you have any difficulties with them?
  • Do you think you got value for your money?
  • Would you recommend this person?

You can also ask for a general description of the reference’s experience with the vendor.  Almost any specific question you ask will probably give you some of the information you need.

Some people, I think, hesitate to ask for references, thinking somehow that it is a sign of a lack of trust.  But when potential clients ask me for references, I am actually very glad.  First, I know that my references will say good things about me.  Second, it shows that the client has done her or his homework.  Finally, I find that clients who ask for references end up trusting me a lot more.  When they believe they can trust me, we work well together.

With a little time and effort, you can find trustworthy vendors who will make you happy with their work.